"Ride of the Iron Horse" (Cleopatra; 2024)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Oh, boy. Where do I start? Thor's got a new album out in celebration of his fifty years of heavy metal. That's a good thing. Here at we celebrate anybody who's been in the music industry that long; anybody who's still recording and kicking ass after five decades. That's impressive as hell.

But my buddy Mike SOS said it best in his review for "Devastation of Musculation." A new album from Thor is a "cheesy, bang-your-head-as-a-guilty-pleasure kind of disc that is as campy yet as compelling as a Troma film." Because "Ride of the Iron Horse" is more often than not just eye-rollingly bad. The songwriting on tracks like "Peace by Piece" is shockingly stilted. I mean, the story it tells is okay, but the lyrics are so forced and seem so hastily cobbled together that you can't help but shake your head and snicker as you listen. It doesn't help that, here at least, Thor's almost spoken-word vocals make Ace Frehley sound like Robert Plant. (In Thor's defense, there are some demos and previously unreleased tracks here as well, so maybe they're not quite "done.")

Strangely, at the same time, it's almost impossible not to get caught up in anthem-like tracks like "Unlock the Power" and "Bring It On" (during which Thor does a halfway decent Oderous Urungus impression). And, again, you've got to celebrate the guy. Jesus, he's been doing this for fifty years, for chrissake.

I'm not gonna say much more about this album for two reasons: First, I truly respect Thor's longevity in the heavy metal world. Second, the dude's still buff as hell and could easily kick my ass. So I'm just gonna close out this review by saying you should pay tribute to Thor's long career and give "Ride of the Iron Horse" a listen.

One more thing: The album cover art is pretty f'n cool.

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"Devastation of Musculation" (Smog Veil; 2006)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

The indeterminable musical force known as Thor, going strong since the '70s, returns with "Devastation of Musculation," yet another unfurling of the Manowar meets KISS shock rock shtick. 

While this legitimate Canadian crusher's strongman acumen is undisputable, the music found on this 10-track disc isn't exactly as exciting as Thor's feats of strength and endurance; yet songs like "The Return of Odin's Son" should make the sword-wielding, Odin-worshipping crowd fairly happy. 

Basically, Thor's latest release is a cheesy, bang-your-head-as-a-guilty-pleasure kind of disc that is as campy yet as compelling as a Troma film or reality television, as songs like "Queen of The Damned" and the surprisingly tender "Don't Abandon Me" deliciously demonstrate the fun side of heavy metal without a net. 

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"Thor Against the World" (Smog Veil / Thortoen; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Thor Against the World" was bound to be cheesy. If the CD title wasn't enough to convince you, the cartoonish artwork certainly would be. And, if that didn't do it, a quick glance at the song titles (such as "Creature Feature," "Megaton Man" and, of course, the title track) have cheese written all over them.

Still, cheese can be good cheese and "Thor Against the World" is at least better than its predecessor, "Beastwomen from the Center of the Earth." That particular CD was so trashily cheesy that you couldn't help laugh out loud at the silly lyrics and the bombastically cliché 80s heavy metal sound.

"Thor Against the World" takes it all down a notch with hard rock songs that probably wouldn't be out of place on an early KISS album. The title track is almost a throw-away but "Creature Feature" is an entertaining ode to movie monsters while "Easy Woman" is a bluesy rocker with Spinal Tap-ish lyrics. "Serpents Kiss" rocks with an early AC/DC vibe (with vocals like that of Alice Cooper!) and "Glimmer" has the punk Elvis attitude of Billy Idol. "Megaton Man," with its 1960s sci-fi  TV show synths and Devo rhythm, is easily the cheesiest track on the CD but is so much fun, you still give it a pass.

Bottom line: "Thor Against the World" is silly, simple and ... most important of all ... lots of fun. You won't gain any brain cells by giving this disc a spin, but you just might bang your head a little, with a dopey little grin plastered across your face the whole time.

Performing on "Thor Against the World" are Jon Mikl Thor - lead and backing vocals; Frank Meyer - guitars, backing vocals, bass, keys, percussion; Bruce Duff - bass, guitars, backing vocals, keys; Chris Markwoo - drums; Vince Meghrouni - sax, harmonica; Brian Kethew - Synths and keys. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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