San Francisco was a hot house for heavy metal back in the late 70's and early 1980's, and we all know which bands rose to fame and fortune from that fertile ground. Unfortunately, a great many metal bands never found mainstream popularity when metal hit its stride. Local underground legends, Anvil Chorus, fit this latter category. Now resurrected, Anvil Chorus brings us their debut disc, The Killing Sun.
The information at hand is fuzzy, but this album appears to be new recordings of original material from their first, and widely circulated, demo tape from 1980's. On the whole, The Killing Sun is a well-crafted and massive collection of melodic heavy metal. There's no hardcore, no grunts or growls, just pure melodic metal showcasing strong arrangements and musicianship. On the former, there's pseudo-progressive nature to the compositions as movements and tempos change with freedom and inspiration as on Death of a Dream or Blue Flames. Concerning the former, strong, ambitious, but hardly derivative guitar solos are framed by a strong rhythm section and well appointed synths. Red Skies and Phases to Phase are strong representatives. My only disappointment was with the vocals. Aaron Zimpel has a fine style, but his vocals, at times, seem still born or muted. I'm thinking this has more to do with the mix than anything else. Overall, The Killing Sun is a magnificent effort from the long neglected Anvil Chorus, a strong and well appreciated dose of classic melodic heavy metal. Strongly recommended.