Yuletide thunderbolt and lightning from metal warrior who keeps the dogs away to let the reindeer in.
“Only the strange survive!” sings Jon Mikl, aka Thor, on a seasonal album he always was keen on making, and quite strange it is, indeed. One would be hard pressed – without a straightjacket or full metal jacket – to keep a straight face while belting out such pun-ridden pieces as “Slay Rider” whose infectious intro reflects the riff of “Eye Of The Tiger” by the band called… well, you get the drift. Yet Jon Mikl does a stellar job here, without running for cover of cover versions, and once a Caesarean request of “Lend Me Your Ears” – a spaced-out epic reigning over a 35-minute album – has been voiced, you’ve got to applaud the audacity the singer never lacked anyway.
He may hide in “Not So Little Drummer Boy” that throws the kid delivering a certain carol under the juggernaut of a drum solo, although it’s hard to hear any skin-hitting behind the Chuck Berry-esque guitar barrage of opener “Donner & Blitzen” – but even if the bottom end fell off, there ain’t no reason to not have fun. Which is what the band are bent on in “Gonna Have A Rockin’ Christmas” setting the booming piece to a scintillating swirl of six-string madness and steady beat, until acoustic balladry engulfs “It’s Christmas Time Again” in gloom, whereas “Our Last Christmas” lights up the darkness with orchestral glow. Still, a suitably heavy ‘n’ hymnal solemnity applied to “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and gruesome story recited in “Cold Saint Nick” bring the record to a close on quite a somber note – and a smile, too, because this is the gist of Xmas.
Thor and his posse of merry pranksters capture it perfectly, and you don’t have to die as a hero to join them in Valhalla; simply sing along and stay strange.