Space quest of a tireless warrior, with ambition abound and fellow combatants aplenty.
Comic-book ambition has always been Jon Mikl’s forte, but this time combining muscle might with vocal power could have put the singer in a precarious position, as the reissue of his band’s classic "Unchained" and the “I Am Thor” documentary inevitably draw comparisons of any new product to the artist’s younger self. The veteran’s solution to this was priceless: to up the ante and not only come up with a concept album about saving the slaves on a distant planet yet also engage prominent guests in the battle. That’s not rock opera, though, and they enrich the overall palette by bringing additional colors to the table without outshining the host ensemble, THOR being a band after all.
So CIRCLE bassist Jussi Lehtisalo may anchor the well-measured riff of “Out Of Control” but the cosmic odyssey is completely THOR’s own, as their leader recites, rather than sings, verses before taking choruses into the arena chant domain and every so often reminding the listener of his namesake god’s specialty. It’s very theatrical, what with orchestral balladry of “Stars Upon Stars” which sees Jon duetting with Betsy Bitch, yet classic metal tropes keep pieces like “Kings Of Thunder And Lightning” in the non-bombast stakes, and Henry Rollins’ presence on “Master Of Revenge” gives it tension, all in a deliberately glam package.
But if Cheetah Chrome’s six-string propels “Drive” to the rock ‘n’ roll Valhalla, there’s no punch in “Legions Of The Psykon World” which drags so much that the axe of VIRGIN STEELE’s Jack Starr can’t give it an edge, and “T.H.O.R.” is saved only by the rap spelling of its title. Still, commanding and booming in the title track, blitzed by Fast Eddie Clarke’s guitar, Mikl employs a tasty bel canto to get his savior message across, whereas a sludge is served in spades for “Heavy Load” and “The Hammer” as TWISTED SISTER’s Jay Jay French chops it on a blues block. Ultimately, though, this band would be able to carry the weight of their mission without extra help, “Law Of The Universe” wrapping its hefty, organ-trimmed statement of “only the strong survive” in acoustic strum. Revenge is sweet, then, when you have the power to rise and shine, as THOR do here.