Released: 2006, Smog Veil Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Throughout his thirty-year career, Jon Mikl Thor’s albums have been easier to slam than a Tijuana hooker and his latest, DEVASTATION OF MUSCULATION, is no exception. Rolling all the warrior-themed cheese of Manowar into the simplistic song structures of Anvil, DEVASTATION OF MUSCULATION is yet another tongue-in-cheek ode to all things high and mighty. Thor himself, renowned for bending steel bars with his teeth on stage, is a Vancouver and Canadian institution. His live shows are legendary, outdone only by GWAR in terms of outrageous spectacle. Along with music, acting and bodybuilding have taken up room on Thor’s plate over the years but he has remained in a musical rut since the mid-eighties (“Thunder On The Tundra”), his career given a slight bump from the film, FUBAR, in 2002. Make no mistake, DEVASTATION OF MUSCULATION is as horrible as every other Thor release but you have to give the guy credit for hanging in there all these years and staying true to the cause.
Thor, who will never be confused with the Geoff Tate or Ronnie James Dio’s of the heavy metal vocal world, makes his usual forced effort to sing and he does so with forceful conviction and passion that you can’t help but feel for him. “Lords of Steel” possesses some decent riffs from Mike Kischnick and the epic groove certainly puts the listener right on the battlefield with sword in hand. Thor’s vocal limitations get the better of him on the title track with a strained chorus but I can totally see this track as a live staple when he hits the road again. “Lies of Eternity” sounds like a warmed-over Anvil track, complete with three-chord riffs and pitiful vocals but possesses an arguably catchy groove. Listening to Thor croak through the ballad, “Cold White Ghost,” is painful but not nearly as excruciating as the duet he does with Dawn Hatchard on “The Return of Odin’s Son.” Somehow, Thor managed to find the female equivalent of his tuneless warbling and hearing her screech through the chorus is agonizing. Hatchard fares much better on the Eastern-influenced “Queen of The Damned” and that track’s groove really stands out from the rest of the album. “Abandon” is plagued by Thor’s attempt to croon and is more of a ballad which hits new lows, even for Thor. The Manowar-ish “Tale of The Wolf/Warriors of The Universe” is as outlandish as it sounds, with Thor’s melodramatic spoken word intro followed by a battle-worthy anthemic chant that will surely get fists pumping.
Thor has made a career out of playing campy heavy metal and catering to his fans with an over-the-top image usually reserved for the professional wrestling circuit. He may be an entertainer but he most certainly is NOT a singer despite the fact he has been releasing records since the mid-seventies (“Keep The Dogs Away” is a Canadian classic). Taken for what it is, DEVASTATION OF MUSCULATION is worth a laugh but I doubt Thor would be pleased to find his latest album filed under “COMEDY” at the local music store. Catch Thor live for a night you’ll never forget (or at least seek out last year’s ANTHORLOGY DVD) but for God’s sake, spare yourself the pain of this album.
KILLER KUTS: “Lords of Steel,” “Lies of Eternity,” “Queen of The Damned”