Thor_Metal AvengerWhether you know it or not, Jon Mikl Thor is a living legend. His bizarre 40 year journey through the entertainment wood chipper has taken him to the disparate worlds of bodybuilding, live quasi-porn theater, proto-heavy metal and Grade-Z horror films. Through it all and come what may, the amiable Canadian Juggernaut just keeps smiling and flexing away, forever awaiting his big break. As painstakingly detailed in the amazing documentary I Am Thor, that break has yet to come. But endless setbacks, obstacles and unrealistic expectations are no match for the erstwhile God of Thunder. And so 2015 sees him release Metal Avenger, his seventeenth album of rock/metal/silliness with a sound forever stuck somewhere between 70s Kiss and  early 80s Manowar. Will this be the platter that finally puts the man, the myth, the demigod over the top into the Valhalla of popular success? Not a chance in Hades, but it’s amazing to behold nonetheless.

If you heard any of Thor‘s…body of work, you know the music is really just an excuse for the man to get onstage and put on wild, wacky and Gwar-esque shows. There are feats of strength, simulated sex with scantily clad women, rampant muscle flexery and more props than a 24 hour Carrot Top Telethon for Moss Peeping Disorder. With the songs safely tucked away in the afterthought compartment, approaching with the right frame of mind is crucial. In fact, the band’s only “hit” came on 1985s Only the Strong, and the Herculean cheesiness of “Thunder on the Tundra” is as enjoyable today as it was then.

While there’s no counterpart to that lost gem here, many of the songs are better than you might expect. The title track is a brainless old school metal anthem that remains genuinely fun despite a host of cliches, and it’s much more amusing than what Gloryhammer is doing. “Out of Control” feels like 70s Cirith Ungol mixed with Kiss‘s cock rock and the chorus was made to be blasted from speakers in 1973 Dodge Dart. “King of Thunder and Lightning” is like Diet Ironhammer and goofy as all hell, and “Master of Revenge” is an odd but rocking mash-up of early Saxon and modern Clutch. Elsewhere, “Taste of Victory” sounds like Pentagram and Thor even sounds a bit like Bobby Liebling at times, which is awesome (and likely very unintentional), and closer “Laws of the Universe” is an awkward yet oddly touching reflection on the man’s endless struggle to attain fame and respect.

Lest you think this is a flawless victory for the Titan of Boom, there are the inevitable Loki-sabotaged tunes. “Destruct” sounds like Jim Morrison’s degenerate cousin stealing third-rate George Thorogood material, and “Stars Upon Stars” is a wildly ill-conceived ballad that tries to copy the male-female vocal interplay from Meatloaf classics like “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with hilariously bad results that have to be heard, including lines “and you know, Thor, I’m so proud now that you took a chance on me.” “T.H.O.R.” follows the Manowar and Body Count habit of writing songs about themselves and includes a dreaded “spell-it-out” chorus like Faith No More‘s “Be Aggressive” but 100 times sillier. But even these numbers are enjoyable in a cheesy, cult-kitsch way and only those expecting something as serious as Anathema will be left out in the cold, cold tundra.

Thor sounds surprisingly youthful, exuberant and vital throughout, and though his attempts at actual singing aren’t exactly top shelf, he makes the most of what he’s got vocally. Since his act has always been about personal charisma and stage presence, his limitations are a small matter. Guitarist/backup vocalist Ani Kyd is listed as a “musician, actor and life coach” which makes her the perfect band-mate for the well-traveled Thor. Ani and Mike O’s riffs effectively straddle the line between 70s, 80s and 90s hard rock and metal and their appearance here proves they share the same tongue-in-cheek sensibility and commitment to struggle as their Godly employer.

Thor!

Since no Thor album was ever 100% solid from start to finish, the idea of releasing a 56 minute, 15 song platter is sheer lunacy. If they trimmed this to the best eight or nine tunes, it would be much improved, but I do not deign to question the wisdom of the Immortals. And there’s simply no critiquing the sound, which is crackingly rich and warm, like the 70s rock album this was meant to be.

Metal Avenger is a slow motion train and oil tanker collision, but it’s also impossibly endearing and exceptionally fun. For straight entertainment value this is an easy win, assuming you have a healthy sense of humor. Hey, Thor is a guy in his freaking 60s who still dresses up in armor, skulls and spikes to play proto-metal for your amusement. If that doesn’t earn your money, it should at least earn your respect. He’s definitely got mine (and some of my money too). All hail Thor, the Metal Avenger. Long may he reign and rock.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Deadline Music
Websites: thorcentral.net | facebook.com/THOR.Official.Page
Releases Worldwide: October 30th, 2015

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  • We need a new scale for this type of epic warrior metal. It should be rated on the Manowar Scale™. The Manowar Scale goes like this. On the high end is Kings of Metal. On the other end is Kings of Metal MMXIV.

  • Stefunal

    This helmet in the clip looks like a bad Morrowind mod with the helmet model smaller than the head.

  • Iain Gleasure

    The Gloryhammer defamation is going to rise to Jorn levels at this rate.

    You cannot outfight the Hootsman!

    • No one can stand against the God of Thunder.

      • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

        At some point Gloryhammer should notice this and work on an album about Bill Beta Ray.

        • Ok, he can stand against The God of Thunder but only because he stole the dude’s hammer!

          • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

            “Steal” is a very strong word… He was in his ship and Thor in Simonson´s run is kinda dumb, and Bill is worth of the Mjolnir. But I digress… I WANT A GLORYHAMMER SPLIT WITH THOR TAKING SIDES OF THIS EPIC MARVEL SAGA.

      • madhare

        “God of thunder stroking his Gloryhammer.”

        …shit, just realised that could be worked into a chorus. Just imagine the cover art on that album.

        Thanks guys. I blame you! My imagination is unicorn pure!

        • [not a Dr]

          As in hungry unicorn pure?

          • madhare

            Are hungry unicorns purer? Or less? Never thought of that.

            …or is this some trick question, and my tired brain just isn’t getting it.

            …like is it dependent on what are they hungry for?

            Unicorns unihorns, always hungry for more horns. …so horny?

          • [not a Dr]

            Just google it.
            From somewhere you can’t get fired from.
            (Although you may live a happier, more fulfilling life if you don’t)

          • madhare

            Ok, found it! :D

            Thanks, always good to educate oneself about contemporary culture.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    It’s impossible not to root for this guy. He’s basically Anvil rolled into a person with a viking suit!

    • And a hammer. Don’t forget the hammer…and hot water bottles.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Don´t forget the hot water bottles are blown until they explode. That´s a very important detail.

    • Iain Gleasure

      Anvil were renowned in Toronto for listening in on other bands jam sessions and stealing their best riffs. So I mean, I can’t really say that’s a reason to support THOR

      • C’mon, he just meant rooting for the eternal underdog. And Thor is clearly the king of underdogs.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Besides underdogs there is also a crazy cat lady nearby. I am sure.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        I lived 2.5 hours from Toronto and all I know about Anvil comes from the movie which I remember bits of. That’s pretty shitty if it’s true though, lame thing to do.

        • SelfIndulgence

          Being a Canadian who lived in the metal scene I can tell you why Anvil never went anywhere. They sucked. We tried to listen to them when The New Music and Much Music tried shoving it down our throats because “Canadian Content” but in the end it still sucked.

          BTW it was that Canadian content law that killed the music industry in Canada….but that’s another story.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Apart from hearing Enter Sandman for the first time when I was 7 or 8 radio did nothing for me getting into metal (thankfully), but those content laws are just terrible. Although that’s probably why I never heard of or got into Anvil apart from thinking of them as lovable underdogs. If Canadians want more of their music on the radio, focus on *the music*, not legislation! I’m sure it helped some local bands by making them get airtime on the metal show on Western University’s station, but our local metal scene was and still is dire so it’s kind of a moot point.

            In high school we had an ex-radio guy doing a course on radio and TV, so my buddy and I took it for two years. We had to make a radio program with songs, ad breaks, speaking breaks…and the requisite Canadian content. He wasn’t a fan of the laws, so I think it was to show us the practical effect of them. It had to be commercially viable, meaning we couldn’t just spread out None So Vile among other metal tunes, and we couldn’t be bothered to look for lukewarm rock music just because it was from Canada. Once mediocrity can get through the filter because of quotas, that’s a death sentence for the music industry, 100%.

          • In the interview with Thor I asked him about this whole thing and his opinions on the Canadian content laws. He seemed supportive of them generally.

    • Iain Gleasure

      I realize now that my earlier comment made it seem like I disagree with Diabolus on his comment and that’s not true. I’m sorry for maybe coming off a bit dickish, I just really can’t respect Anvil. I have to agree that you can’t dislike Thor

      • Thor will be pleased. You will still be smotten though.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Didn’t come across dickish at all, more just telling me something new and interesting about a band I know very little about besides the “eternal underdog” bit from the film. If they were constantly stealing riffs though, they’re not underdogs, they’re buffoons who shouldn’t have made it and thankfully didn’t.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I didn´t know exactly where to place this comment, seeing so much trash talking about Anvil… So I am placing it here.
      Anvil were there in the 80s, Anvil were there in the 90s, Anvil where there in the 00s and Anvil are still alive and kicking in the 2010s. They have been around non-stop for almost 40 years. To my knowledge no other Canadian Metal band has done that.
      That kind of longevity can´t be sustained on stubborness alone. You don´t like Anvil? Good, say you don´t like them. But trash talking about them is lame when you take into account their achievements. And I´m not talking about record sales, because achivements in Metal are no measured by record sales alone.

  • Innit Bartender

    In no way he’s trying to capitalise on the success of Marvel movies. Oh no, not by far. Not with that title.

    • Stan Lee actually wanted the guy to be Thor in a Marvel movie back in the day but it never got made.

      • You wot m8?

        Seriously?

        • That’s the story anyway. In other news, The Misfits tried to recruit him to replace Danzig.

          • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

            That story might be around the time Starlin, Englehart, O´Neill and the other motherfuckers supposedly plotted to spike Stan Lee´s coffee with LSD xD

          • Innit Bartender

            …that must have been when he had the first concept of Ravage 2099! (ok, all comics nerds are acquinted and counted for…)

          • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

            I’m pretty sure that even Stan Lee doesn’t remember creating Ravage 2099 xD

      • Innit Bartender

        The best Thor ever is still the one seen in Adventures in Babysitting!

        • He auditioned for that part and thought he got it but it went to Vincent D’onofrio.

          • Innit Bartender

            Wow, that I didn’t know!!

  • I forgot to mention, there are boobies on the cover, which are somewhat spherical.

  • It’s cute but I’m 15 years too young for this. Maybe 20. 30??

  • SelfIndulgence

    3.0? Going to have to move you down now on the respect-o-meter.
    You do realize this isn’t parody to him? Giving him money only empowers his fantasy that should have died long ago. Shame.

    What next a retro review on Piledriver? again…shame

    • Move me anywhere you want, slick, this is still a fun album. And yes, I’m aware it isn’t parody. If you can’t appreciate the goofy old school charm, then your loss.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Well, Van Gogh and Dali were kinda crazy. Why can´t musicians be both crazy AND respected?

  • … weird. So this guy was the basis for Paco “El Puño” Estrella in the video game Anachronox?

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I would like the actually listen to Jim Morrison’s degenerate cousin stealing third-rate George Thorogood material. What a description!

  • You wot m8?

    “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

    That was all I could think about during the whole video. Why would he use such a recognizable helmet design?

    • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

      My god, I didn´t notice that but I have rewatched the embedded video and it´s xDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
      PLUS there´s a swift, subtle and brutal change into a spartan helmet that makes it EVEN better x_D

    • Hulksteraus

      Definitely was thinking Rusty in Gladiator :)

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Welp, time to listen to Ex Deo.

  • Kevin Zecchel

    He did some of the vocals for this album at the recording studio I interned at for a while. Fun fact: an entire session’s work of vocals was lost because another intern forgot to back them up. He was incredibly cool about the whole thing though. Thor is one of the nicest guys!

    • That seems par for the course for the guy. He has a lot of bad luck.

    • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

      I respect that work ethic.
      So sad that´s worth mentioning that a man it´s cool about a simple mistake that everyone can make. But hey, if Thor is the man, HE´S DA MAN.

  • Hulksteraus

    “in the amazing documentary I Am Thor, that break has yet to come.” Checking the trailer and reading this review reminded me of Thor as depicted in Douglas Adam’s brilliant “The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul” – Worn out, dejected, down on his luck, but damn likeable and still giving it his all :)

  • HammerofThor

    I am not amused by his mockery. :P

  • lennymccall

    See I listen to Thor quite a bit (Keep the Dogs at Bay on my iPhone currently) and I always think of it as more of an early punk sound. Iggy or The Saints or someone like that. He’s cheesy but there’s room for that in my life. I’ll check this out but ‘m not super confident or anything.