Thor Against the World

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Never has a Thor album been so aptly named. After all Thor Against the World pretty much defines the mildly musical man-mountain's three-decade-plus career as glam metal novelty, entertainment jack-of-all-trades (singer, actor, bodybuilder, stuntman, stripper!), and enduring underground curiosity. This, now, is the third album of original material since Thor's improbable new millennium comeback, and as anyone familiar with his weird trajectory thus far should expect, it simultaneously contains a strange mélange of creative eccentricities (meat-headed hard rock paired with a quote from Nikola Tesla?) and begs the ever-sensible question of whether the man himself is in on the joke? Frank entertainer that he is, chances are that's a "yes," and whatever the truth, there's no denying that none of Thor's '70s or '80s forays were anywhere near as professionally recorded and performed as this batch of energetic rockers. That's not to say that standard cuts like "Thor Against the World," "Easy Woman," and "Long Time" don't still constitute pretty basic and simple, good-times rock & roll (think vintage Dictators, hardly highbrow stuff); but they likewise fare just fine by these low-expectancy measures, and it must be said that Thor himself (regularly supported here by his "Thor Core Choir") actually seems to have improved his singing skills over time. Among the album's more unusual moments: "Creature Feature" has neat post-glam, Twisted Sister feel to it; "Hard to Cry" transforms from a Detroit-style garage rock vamp into honky tonk stomp in the space of three minutes; and the surprisingly catchy "Glimmer" strikes a curious sonic friendship between Glenn Danzig and the Cramps -- never mind the saxophone solo. Oh sure, "Megaton Man" and "The Coming of Thor" revert to the camp "muscle metal" characterizations of old long enough to carry on with tradition, but all things considered, Thor Against the World is still about as subtle an outing as the Canadian God of thunder has managed yet.

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