THOR – Thunderstryke II (2014)
Now this is fun. With the commercial might of Disney behind an already iconic brand, the name of Thor is pretty much household this decade already, the sight of a blonde, muscle-bound God fronting a series of Marvel movies while clutching a fuck-off hammer inspiring young boys to fight the good fight.
For boys of a certain age, however, the name THOR stings the mind with thoughts of a different kind of God: a Rock God, a blond, muscle-bound God fronting a series of Metal musicians while clutching a fucked-up hot water bottle and letting the blood run red…
So if you were a cool boy in the ’80s and used to enjoy hard rock and related music, you should have listened or heard about Canadian heavy metaller and muscle rocker Jon Mikl aka THOR.
If you witnessed Jon Mikl Thor wrapping a micstand around the neck of a portly milkman at the culmination of a shredding ‘Thunder On The Tundra’ on a Saturday morning in the mid-eighties then, surely, you realised that your weekend television viewing and, ultimately, your taste in music would never be the same again…
Jon Mikl Thor was the first Canadian bodybuilder to win both the Mr. Canada and Mr. USA titles. Combining body strength feats with searing rock music, Jon formed a band, originally named Mikl Body Rock, then Thor and the Imps, before settling on the simplistic yet standout, THOR.
The debut album, ‘Keep The Dogs Away’, appeared in 1977, and THOR would continue to thrill audiences for the next decade until, in 1987, he decided to retire from live performances to concentrate on a promising movie / TV career.
The promise delivered. Movies such as ‘Zombie Nightmare’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare’, once seen, were never forgotten. That was a cheesy, B-movie, B-music feast.
THOR, though, never forgot the lust for live metal, returning after a decade out in 1997, continuing to release albums, including a 30th anniversary reissue of the debut and a re-release of 1985’s ‘Live In Detroit’, albeit with a slightly lesser profile.
That profile deserves to be raised somewhat in 2014, however, with the release of “Thunderstryke II“.
Rock Saviour Records (via Iron Pegasus Records) are doing a fine job in resurrecting the legend of THOR, following up the release of Part 1 of ‘Thunderstryke’ in 2012 with the ‘Energy’ EP, a 7″ vinyl three-tracker featuring the title track, taken from ‘Thunderstryke II’, and a pair of non-album tracks.
Limited to 555 copies, this extended player primed ears nicely for what was to follow, the fourteen-track album that features both new and old, yet previously unreleased, songs rearranged and reworked from the ’70s and ’80s.
With the promise that old school and long term fans of THOR will rejoice in the album’s wares, “Thunderstryke II” opens with the suitably bombastic ‘Coming Of Thor’, a frenzied fusion of spoken word, air raid sirens and chugging riffage.
What follows, though, will astound: haunting ’80s synths introducing ‘Megaton Man Returns’, a heady mix of electro muscle rock, scuzzed-up crazy guitar and humungous chorus. This, my friends, is classic THOR.
And we’re only on track two. There are a dozen more winners to contend with.
‘Rock N Roll Dream’ and ‘Metal Mya’ sound like the polished ’80s metal standards that they ultimately are, ‘We Live To Rock Again’ a clarion call to hard rockers everywhere, massive of riff and hook. ‘New York City’ is a throwback to pop-infused rock times – muscle pop? – while ‘Thor Rock Warrior’ sounds exactly as the title suggests.
‘Graveyard’ slows things down, for around twenty seconds, before unfurling into a moody love letter to The Doors. I actually own a DVD copy of a 2003 Canadian movie of the same name centred around a pair of bookstore clerks and starring none other than… Jon Mikl Thor!
‘Thunder’ is another typically crazed slower paced hard rock pot boiler, ‘Back For Blood’ an anthemic raging tornado of a tune. ‘Energy’ is a timeless ’80s rock classic, keys tickled by skeletal fingers, gang vocals shouted out by a legion of boom, while ‘Accept The Challenge’ checks every box on the vintage metal requirements application form.
The listener is almost spent ‘When The Hammer Falls’, chugging guitar going for the throat, before ‘Mirror Man Power’ brings a sense of déjà vu to the record, being a re-worded working out of ‘Megaton Man Returns’.
If every vintage rock star and heavy metal hero is on the comeback trail in one sense or another then Jon Mikl Thor is more than deserving of a second stint in the spotlights. This is, remember, a man who once battled the Devil himself…
No, seriously, this is a lot of fun. Cheesy lyrics, epic riffs, clichés everywhere… but funny as hell.
01 – Coming Of Thor
02 – Megaton Man Returns
03 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream
04 – Metal Mya
05 – We Live To Rock Again
06 – New York City
07 – Thor (Rock Warrior)
08 – Graveyard
09 – Thunder
10 – Back For Blood
11 – Energy
12 – Accept The Challenge Again
13 – When The Hammer Falls
14 – Mirror Man Power
BUY IT !