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Thor

Beyond the Pain Barrier

Review by Gary Hill

This is the new disc from Thor. That's the metal act, not the actual God of Thunder or related Marvel Comics superhero. The music here lands in the general vicinity of the old-school New Wave of British heavy metal. It's definitely a bit rough around the edges, but it's also delivered with a lot of conviction. It's a bit over the top, along the lines of Manowar, in terms of lyrical content. That suits the music and the image, though.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Tyrant

The metal modes that start this are both meaty and mean. The cut has a bit of an NWOBHM sound as it works into the vocal movement. This is a powerhouse cut that's suitably raw. The mid-track guitar soloing has a bit of a technical metal leaning, but the soloing near the end makes me think of KK Downing a bit.

The Calling

A bit more of a rock and roll based metal stomper, this isn't quite as raw as the opener was.

Beyond the Pain Barrier

The title track has more of that NWOBHM sound. The guitar soloing is particularly intense. This is a screamer with a fierce, pounding intensity. The vocal performance sometimes feels a bit short, though.

When a Hero Dies

Starting with a balladic mode, this is almost more of a straight rock and roll song than it is metal. That said, the crunch and guitar soloing bring metal to the party. This is one of the most different, and one of the most successful, cuts here.

On Golden Sea

This one, on the other hand, doesn't work as well for me. It's a bit over the top and feels a little clumsy at times. Still, the guitar soloing is top-notch.

Phantom's Light

The rhythm section starts this and holds it for the first half minute or so. Then the guitar joins to move it forward. It drops to a more stripped back arrangement for the first vocals. The cut alternates between powered up and more dropped back sections and returns to just the rhythm section for a segment later.

Twilight of the Gods

Fierce and fast, this is a really screaming number. It's one of the most potent of the set. It has some moments that feel a bit awkward, but that adds to the charm, really. There is a definitely an NWOBHM thing here.

Galactic Sun

Raw and driving, this has a definite psychedelic angle to it. In fact, it feels like what you might get if you mixed NWOBHM with old school garage psychedelic rock. It's a nice change and oddly effective.

The Land

No big surprises here, this is just more raw old school metal. It has some decent hooks and solid guitar riffs.

Deity in the Sky

A bit meaner in texture, this is also more effective. It's a dramatic and powerful piece.

Thunder Road

More hook laden, this leans more toward mainstream rock music. Still, it has a metallic edge and some left-of-center elements.

Quest for Valor

At almost seven and a half minutes in length, this is the longest cut of the set. It's the epic in terms of scope, too. It has a diverse arrangement, moving through a number of different sections. This makes me think of Manowar in some ways.

 
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