Wednesday, October 2, 2002 @ 12:36 AM
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Thor the Rock Warrior has been kicking around the heavy metal scene since the late ‘70s and by the amount of albums he’s been unsheathing in recent years shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. From the glam rock sounds of 1977’s Keep The Dogs Away to the classic heavy metal thunder of 1984’s Only The Strong to last year’s cyber metal comeback album Dogz II, Vancouver, Canada’s own resident bodybuilder/B-movie star/comic hero/rock frontman has delivered the goods to his adorning fans time and time again.
Yet somehow he has never really made beyond a cult level, despite huge success in Europe in the ‘80s, a brief film career, and an over the top live show that predates the theatrics of Gwar or Rob Zombie, the muscleman approach of Henry Rollins, and even the Shout At The Devil apocalyptic look of Motley Crue. Every time he seemed poised for international super-stardom something seemed to go wrong.
Recently, after a decade-long retirement, Thor the Rock Warrior has reemerged from the shadows to win over a new generation of fans with his gladiator rock sound, outrageous feats of strength, and thunderous musical muscle.
On his latest platter, Triumphant, Thor doles out heaping amounts of hard rock for all types. Unlike Dogz II, which updated his sound into the new millennium, this album is old school Thor to the core with dashes of pop metal thrown in for good measure. Fans of the Manowars, Accepts, and Lizzy Bordens of the world will rejoice in this celebration of the style of headbanging long forgotten by the mainstream.
"Call of the Triumphant" features lyrics about thunder and chariots and a big, fat chuggy riff. “Intercessor,” the title track to the upcoming flick Rock N’ Roll Nightmare 2, continues the fray and is old school Priest-style METAL. “Everybody Needs A Hero” is hard rock anthem that would have been a hit about a decade and a half ago.
“Viking’s Funeral,” with its spoken word account of (guess what?) an actual Viking Funeral, is absolutely the funniest Viking song ever (admittedly, I’m having a tough time coming up with the rest of that list…) and would give even Nigel Tufnel and chuckle. “Back In Blood,” an ‘80s sounding hard rocker with a great chorus hook, is the best track here and is almost hindered by crappy production, but is saved by the funniest breakdown in a song I have ever heard (even funnier than the intro to the Runaways’ “Dead End Justice”). Allow me to translate the brilliance:
Thor: You know you’re guilty baby, yeah…. so how do you plead?
Sexy Sounding Chick: Guilty as charged.
Thor: You can’t escape justice… ‘Cause you’re a bloodsucker! You’re a centipede!!
Sexy Sounding Chick: (moaning) Ooohhhh
You gotta love Thor…
Even more bizarre is that “Hail Steve Reeves” almost sounds like Thor singing over an old Chili Peppers riff… and somehow it works!!! Go figure. The Pilotpriest remix of “Stormbringer” harkens back to the techno-metal of Dogz II but is really the only thing in that style on the album. There are also remakes of the classic Thor chestnut “Anger” (not as good as the original) and the rare gem “Thunderhawk” (better than the original!) to satisfy hardcore fans. The album ends with a three-song trilogy called “The Guardians Flame” that is pure over the top prog-rock mixed with good ol’ fashioned hard rock and should please even the pickiest of Virgin Steel fans (for all you flame guardians out there). Yeah, it’s metal alright… and metal is metal is metal, right?
Yes, the mighty one is back. Wielding his lexicon of Norse mythology and sci-fi fantasies and blending his Conan style image with a two-ton guitar attack and double kick drum battering ram, Thor challenges all who doubt him to step up to the plate and beat him in a test of strength. Will you choose to blow up the hot water bottle with your lungs, bend a steel rod with your teeth, have concrete smashed off your chest with a jackhammer or challenge him to a test of rock justice? Triumphant is his entry into the contest. Where yours?