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Released: 2002, Thortoen Records
I was lucky enough to be present at the World Premier airing of this disc. I heard six tracks from this beast and I knew I would not be disappointed when I had the full-length in my hands. That day is here and it is like the dawning of a new age for Thor. Why? Well, after a few years of relatively low-key (but great!) performances, the occasional re-issue and the critically slagged, DOGZ II CD, Thor has emerged triumphant!
The title is very fitting for this disc, his 12th or 13th by my count, because it is a complete and total return to his classic form as well as the added bonus of a few modern tricks and sounds. We are greeted by a classic “true metal” cover depicting a warrior battling to save a well-endowed and scantily clad woman from the savages. Even the logo is the requisite “steel with rivets” font. The packaging is a bit sparse with only two pages and no lyrics but it is packed with info, a couple of photos and a brief story-line about the rise of the Metal Avenger and Intercessor. The tune “Intercessor” is a tie-in with the movie Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare 2: The Intercessor. Interestingly, there is another tune that ties in with a movie, “Fubar is a Super Rocker”, from the movie Fubar.
The discs opens with a classic driving power metal tune, “Call of the Triumphant” that could easily fit on any Manowar or Hammerfall disc. The tune “Anger” is very melodic and very catchy with a chorus that immediately sticks in your mind and has mandatory female moaning as all good metal songs should! “Thunderhawk” might stand out as my favorite tune in the disc but it is hard to decide with so many good songs. “Viking’s Funeral” is a more mid-tempo, dirge-like epic style song with sound effects and a nice reserved solo as well. The song also has Thor showing his range as a vocalist as well with some fairly high-pitched work. There are a few light moments amongst the metal, the aforementioned, “Fubar” and “Back For Blood” and the mood of the whole disc is one of power and triumphant. I could have done without the track “Fight For You” it seems oddly out of place. The semi-ballad “Everybody Needs a Hero” caught me off guard but but I quickly came to enjoy its laidback melodic charm, much in the same way W.A.S.P.’s “Forever Free” caught me off guard but rapidly became a favorite.
The production is great, clear and pounding almost echo-y and booming in parts giving it a nice live feel. Unless you think that this is a one-god show, his backing band is tight and professional. Guitarist Mike D. can shred when he needs to and rhythm guitarist Ani Hyd is no slouch either, not to mention being easy on the eyes. The drummer, “Gunthar the Pounder” gives the drums the workout that this type of pounding epic metal needs. A host of back-up guest vocals give the tunes additional range and depth.
The disc ends with a tune called “The Guardian’s Flame” (inspired by his long time friend and artist Michael Hoffman) which bleeds into this rather odd 12+ minute medley of older (?) Thor material. It is a cool (not so hidden) bonus track that sounds like different studio outtakes and so on. One part of the medley called (I imagine) “Do You Accept The Challenge” is good enough to make the main part of the disc, with a very catchy female sung chorus and it shouldn’t have been relegated to hidden track status.
This is a great multi-faceted disc. It is refreshing to hear this enthusiasm and youthful energy from a veteran who easily maintains a sense of optimism (and humour) while providing some very real metal songs laced with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe. All Hail the mighty THOR!!
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