Canadian heavyweight laces his team’s clangor with musical flavors from lesser mortals and restores his might with a lot of gusto.
Lately, Thor’s hammer seemed to have been losing its ability to hit the nail on the head while retaining the ensemble’s customary strength and thunder – all because of their leader’s receding vocal power. Perhaps sensing this, Jon Mikl not only accelerated the rate of his output and sharpened his superhero image but also, as 2020’s "Rising" demonstrated, let humor seep into his band’s melodic clang. “Alliance” builds on that record’s promise by delivering a punchy, if a tad long in CD version, set of anthems each of which can shoot up the metal charts, and by hosting a cast of heavy guests who bring variety to the sonic battlefield.
And the battle looks as old-school as it gets, this point stressed from the very beginning, once Thor, a former bodybuilding champion, joins forces and voices with his overseas peer, RAVEN’s John Gallagher, and belts out the roaring “We Need Musclerock” that’s highly contagious so, upon the arrival of “We Will Fight Forever” and ex-ANTHRAX Neil Turbin on this cut, the record’s hymnal factor is taking hold of the flow to peak to the marching bagpipes of “Because We Are Strong”: the a cappella-flaunting pop core of the Canadian veteran’s arguably best offering in recent decades. When Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P. and Ross The Boss of MANOWAR fame enhance the guitar front formed by John Leibel and Matt Hamilton on “The Ultimate Alliance” which will see Nina Osegueda and Fang VonWrathenstein step up to Valhalla as well, the album’s groove and sway become beautifully belligerent, but though the presence of DEATH DEALER’s Sean Peck on “Thor vs. The Juggernaut (War Of The Gods)” would feel fairly hysterical, Mikl’s duet with STRIKER’s Dan Cleary on “Ode To Odin” can’t leave a riff aficionado indifferent.
The same goes for the incendiary glam of “Rock Around The World” featuring Danko Jones as Thor’s sparring partner, the fiery rock ‘n’ roll of “Generation Now” where Joey Killingsworth’s chorus lines are engaging, and the flaming punk of “Power Hungry” that Kevin Stuart Swain’s six and four strings push towards a climax, yet the memorable tune of “Good Stuff” which PRISM’s Al Harlow has embellished lives up to its title too. As for the album’s descriptive title… The gathering like this should restore Thor’s vigor.