Valhalla can wait, as the heavenly noisemaker roams the earth and roars for kicks.
It must be perceived as a challenge this artist loves so much: while many of his coevals slow down and stare into the sunset, Jon Mikl welcomes a new dawn by accelerating the work rate that has seen the veteran release fresh records with diminishing intervals recently. Issued less than a year after "Hammer Of Justice" – a straight-faced sort of concept album – “Rising” is different from the rest of them, though, as self-irony and vulnerability seem to infiltrate, perhaps for the first time, the singer’s comics-informed stance. The superhero posturing didn’t leave the picture, of course, as frenetic pieces such as “Son Of Thunder” or “Defend Or Die” suggest, yet Thor’s bent on having less menacing and more melodic fun now.
It’s “The Party Never Ends” and “The Game Is On!” that frame the drift this time – something the listener would fail to predict when deliciously sludgy blues “Wormhole” sets things in motion, before riffs direct Thor’s dry voice towards another dimension – and that’s where the heavy groove is irresistible. If these numbers smell of glam, there’s nothing wrong with metal’s natural luster, on opposite to the bluster of “We. Will. Destroy. You” which feels a bit shallow, and to the hilariously theatrical title track, but “Power Mask” offers an exquisite acoustic alternative to everything else, giving heft to the “I’m too old to act my age” line, the album’s deceptive motto. Age never was something Jon Mikl cared about: years can’t be a challenge to an artist able to rise to any occasion.