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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Thor

Only the Strong: Deluxe Edition

Review by Gary Hill

I suppose the easiest comparison here would be to say that Thor is like Manowar. Surely this Canadian outfit (led by its namesake, who in this case was a Mr. Canada winner) has a lot in common in terms of basic concepts of warrior metal and in sound. Still, these guys have more of a NWOBHM sound and a lot of Judas Priest and more built into it. This is the latest reissue of what many consider their best album. I’d have to say that this is a great release. Not only do you get the full album, but they include two live songs (the recording quality is weak, though), four songs from a soundtrack and a number of demos. If that wasn’t enough there is also a video (seemingly a bootleg released officially) and a nice booklet. If you’ve ever liked Thor and this album, this has to be the best version out there. If you’ve never checked out this act, I can’t imagine a better place to start.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
2045

They waste no time, powering into a killer metal grind. Then it drops down to a weird section that’s part jazz and part psychedelia. A spoken vocal comes over the top for the verse. This is a short piece, essentially serving as an introduction.

Only the Strong
Killer no frills heavy metal drives us out in style here. The guitar solo is particularly tasty.
Start Raising Hell
Raw metal with some punk and more in the mix is the idea here. This is a real stomper in a lot of ways. It’s not a huge change, but when it’s this good, who cares?
Knock Em Down
More of an anthemic cut, the metal here is meaty. This has a catchier sound to it.
Let the Blood Run Red
Raw, but also anthemic, this is more killer true steel. I love the chorus on this one.
When Gods Collide
The heavy sound that starts this out is sort of like a more extreme version of Black Sabbath. The song proper has a real indie metal sound to it.
Rock the City
Proto-metal meets hard rock anthems here. This is a straightahead rocker with a catchy chorus. They take it through some changes, though, bringing it closer to an early epic metal vein.
Now Comes the Storm
A bit on the furious side musically, the vocal arrangement on this is more anthemic. This one is a little on the raw side, but it’s also quite cool. The guitar solo section on this scorches.
Thunder on the Tundra
A catchy, driving metal tune, this isn’t fancy, but it rocks.
Hot Flames
The riff that opens this, and really the whole sound is classic. This is metal!
Ride of the Chariots
After a short introduction, they tear out into a thrashy number. It’s very much an epic metal styled tune.
Bonus Tracks: From the Edge of Hell
 
Wild Life
This reminds me a bit of what you might get if you crossed Warlock (with a male singer, of course) and Motley Crue. It’s a driving metal rocker.
Steal Your Thunder
More of a modern metal sound permeates this. In some ways, it’s more of a melodic rocker than it is a metal song. It’s got a definite 80s metal vibe to it. The guitar solo section is quite tasty.
Energy
A spoken voice gives way to a keyboard/effects flourish on the introduction. Then vocals rise up to deliver the first chorus without any backing. They launch into some melodic epic metal from there. In some ways this makes me think of Kiss a bit. There are some rather progressive rock like elements in some of the layers of sound that lace this at times.
We Live To Rock
This one is very much in a 1980s metal style. It’s got a real glam metal vibe a bit like Quiet Riot and Motley Crue combined.
Demos
 
All Evil in My Path (1983)

This has a demo-like quality, but interestingly enough it almost feels like DEVO does metal to me. It’s actually a lot of fun. 

Forever and After (1982)
A more pure metal tune, this one has a lot of energy. It’s a bit raw, but it is a demo.
Anger Is My Middle Name (1981)
This has a bit of a punk vibe to it. Still, it’s got metal and more in the mix.
I Am ThunderHawk (1986)
A mellow introduction gives way to a jam that’s part metal and part punk. It’s a fun cut with a cool riff.
Ride Away from You (1981)
Another with a lot of punk rock in the mix, this is okay, but not great.
Live In England 1984

 

Lightning Strikes

From what I can tell, this song is pretty good. The problem is, the recording is so lousy that it’s really hard to tell. Still, this is a bonus track and not part of the album proper.

Thunder on the Tundra
The sound on this isn’t great, but it’s definitely better than the previous one. The performance sounds pretty inspired.

 

 
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