THOR - TRIUMPHANT - THORTOEN/PHD
Canada's master of metal-physique Thor is back and, as a matter of fact, quite active. Central to his activities is the new album Triumphant which clocks in at 65 minutes. The album kicks off with Call Of The Triumphant and for those who are not familiar with Thor, it sounds akin to Manowar's fountainhead. It is quite catchy really. Intercessor follows, a track culled from the film The Intercessor: Rock N' Roll Nightmare 2, which sounds thematic. Thor sounds uncannily close to Axl Rose on this one. Viking's Funeral is a tale of Valhalla and slower in pace to allow for the narration. Back For Blood is a little heavy rock dittie with female backing vocals towards the end. This is followed by Fubar Is A Super Rocker which is another song culled from a movie. This one comes from Fubar: The Movie (I have to see these!) and sounds more like a army training cassette than anything else. Everybody Needs A Hero follows next and sounds quite close to a certain Marilyn Manson hit single. It is catchy and abetted by multiple vocal tracks. Is that Neil Young on guitar? It sure sounds like him. Anger is a popish song with more catchy guitar rhythms ('Anger is my middle name') and Stormbringer is even more pop in its intentions. Imagine a 1979 chart-topper. Thunderhawk is a return to hard rock and picks up the pace. This one will probably fuel Manowar's inspirations for another ten years. Fight For You and Hail Steeve Reeves (a bodybuilder) lead to the last song on the album entitled The Guadian's (sic) Flame. The hidden tracks here are classic Thor material in the form of We Accept The Challenge, Lightning Strikes (new version?) and Search & Destroy.
If one major criticism is to be levelled at Triumphant it is the frugal booklet and the lack of lyrics. The front and back covers are fantastic and the concept could have been extended. After all Thor is much more about the visuals than the music. Be that as it may, the 'Metal Avenger' is back and by the power of Odin will demolish all skeptics. The first people to buy this album will get the limited edition CD with the superior cover, so act fast.
THOR AND MICK HOFFMAN - BEASTWOMEN FROM THE CENTER OF THE EARTH - THORTOEN
In the far west, beyond the mountains mere mortals call The Rockies, lies a land called British Columbia. There resides Thor. He is the god of thunder, rock, music, physique and metal.
The year is 2004 and Thor has banded together with artist and guitarist Mick Hoffman to bestow a new episode of his trilogy called Beastwomen From The Center Of The Earth (A Rock Odyssey) upon mankind. The music often seems incidental when it comes to Thor. The focus, after all, is more on style and presentation than riff, melody or harmony. Songs like Break The Ice (great name for an album's opener), Sirens Calling and Mushroom World tell the saga of the Beastwomen and a migration into the depths of the earth. The listener is dispensed music ranging from pure pop to rock a la Kiss, Alice Cooper, Rammstein and so forth. It really is a vehicle for Thor's stage presence, films, comics and so forth. One either wants to get it or not, but believer or not, the legend of Thor lives on regardless. - Ali "The Metallian"
THOR - DEVASTATION OF MUSCULATION - SMOG VEIL
Isn’t it completely ironic that Canada’s aging muscle-bound hard rocker Thor would name his latest album Devastation Of Musculation? Actually, no considering the music on the album, which can best be described as shockingly low quality and indeed embarrassing.
The songs on the album are mundane and flat. The vocals are passable leaving the guitars, which attempt to inject a modicum of excitement into the album, as the sole bearable element here. Song-wise the pickings are slim. Cold White Ghost is slow. Queen Of The Damned features the same ethnic melody used by Kamelot in Knights Of Arabia, while Union Of Power is nothing more than a bunch of chats with a solo. The album’s best track is Release the Beast, but that is largely owing to the Pat Benatar riff supporting it. The song has a decent lead guitar part nevertheless. Abandon is terrible and sounds like the group did just that when formulating a song. The Return Of Odin’s Son features nasal female vocals and would be desultory even if not every single band out there had not tried female vocals already. Thor’s abandonment of his duty to deliver a decent album can be heard via the loud presence of the drum machine on song after song. There has apparently been no attempt made to somewhat conceal the artificiality of the damned apparatus. What is Thor doing releasing demo quality crud like this given his 20-year experience and history on the hard rock scene? - Ali “The Metallian”
THOR - UNCHAINED (CD+DVD) - DEADLINE MUSIC
This is a re-release of the 1983 EP by the Canadian superhero. This EP is proclaimed to have put Thor atop Mt Olympus of the metal music world, it is left up to the listener to spot the error! Naturally the cover features former body builder and muscle man Jon Mikl. The six-song EP featured and features songs called Lightning, Anger, Rock The City, Lazer Eyes, When Gods Collide and Death March with references to Odin and lines like “Anger is my middle name.” As expected Thor plays competent hard rock that crosses into the cheesy. Six of the twelve bonus songs included are the Unchained raw master recordings from 1982 which while not in the same order is identical except I Am Your Sire is in place of the heavy instrumental Death March. The second set of bonus tracks are War Hammer, Rebirth Of The Hero, Ride From Hell, Rag-Na-Rock, Unchained (When Rises The Moon) and She's A Nightmare. Each song provides a bit of catchy hard rock to go with the expected.
The included booklet tells the story of Thor, the man, and provides insight on his musical and other influences. His early idols are listed as George Reeves of TV's Superman and included are other stories such as a 1982 Thor show in Las Vegas attended by the likes of Sammy Davis Jr. The story is also keen to emphasize that Thor's style evolved from '70s rock to heavy metal by 1982. The booklet also features a comic strip called When Titans Clash: God Of Thunder (Thor) vs Cronos (Venom's Black Metal King) in which the latter attempts to steal the luscious blonde Pantera from Thor but fails.
The DVD starts with the infamous Anger video, behind the scenes footage of the making of its "concept video" or short film. Live footage of Unchained's release party in New York in 1982 is one of several live bonus material included. Live from Queens NY 1985, Live at St. Alban's Hall 1984 (with extended backstage footage) and Live at the Marquee 1984 being the others. Close to two hours of live material overall provide a fascinating look at the band and their perhaps surprisingly no frills shows. - Anna Tergel