Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Self Aggrandizement in the Form of a Pre-edited Music Review

This will come out either tomorrow or the following week in the FW Weekly, but I really like this band and really didn't want to wait in case anyone was on the fence about them and happened to be doing some searches.

Valient Thorr
Legend of the World
(Volcom)

Remember Nu Metal, that genre comprised of suckass Jock-Jam bands like Korn and Godsmack? When they weren’t busy making huge, multi-zippered, idiot-pants fashionable, they were supposedly breathing life into the tired, leathery lungs of Regular Metal. What they really did was ruin everything cool and dangerous about hard rock, in a much more damnable way than anything ever perpetuated by Sammy Hagar. In other words, they sucked the fun right out of it.

Fortunately, a handful of bands have managed to reset the whole genre through their own sweat, toil and blistering arpeggios. You’ve probably heard about Australia’s Wolf Mother, who fuse stoner rock and Kansas into fuzzed-out glory. Perhaps you’ve found Early Man on MySpace and added them as friends because they sound like Mercyful Fate covering Maiden. If you’re lucky, you’ve seen The Sword, who out-Sabbath Sabbath, making wolves and cursed blades the coolest hipster trend since PBR and mustaches. If you nodded your head to any of the above references, load your bong and cue up Legend of the World, the second album by Valient Thorr.

Valient Thorr are from Venus by way of North Carolina (which makes perfect sense when you think about it). They have a backstory. It involves a stolen time machine or something. Mostly, it’s amazing nonsense, but not as amazing as their serious devotion to anti-war politics and Southern Rock riffage.

Legend of the World opens up with the bombastic stomp of “Heatseeker,” a paranoid middle-finger to government intrusion, shouted by frontman Valient Himself over speedball blues riffs that sound as if they were made to chain someone to a nuclear missile. From there, it’s pretty obvious what the rest of the album is gonna sound like: basically, it’s a fantasy rock-genre draft combining a leftist punk singer with a Judas Priest tribute band and making them play Lynyrd Skynyrd songs at full-throttle. If not for obvious slashes at Dubya’s foreign policy, you’d swear this album came out thirty years ago. It makes you want to buy a case of the beer your old man used to drink.

Unfortunately, a lot of Legend blends together if you aren’t a fan of the solos-in-lieu-of-choruses formula chiseled by Black Sabbath in times of lore. The riffs are righteous: Guitarists Odinn and Eiden Thorr wield laser-perfect, harmonized shredding that wouldn’t be out of place on a Thin Lizzy album, but because it’s everywhere, it starts to become indistinguishable. Same for the earnest, sermonized shouting of Himself’s delivery, which is a bummer, because he’s shouting about ending the Iraqi war and cleaning up the planet. It’s not exactly Joan Baez, but a progressive message borne on high-octane cock-rock is paradoxically easier to hear. Why Venusian Vikings give a crap about American foreign relations is never explained, but at least somebody cares about this stuff. Add a song about the destruction of the primeval world (“Fall of Pangea”), and the record is pretty fun.

Legend of the World is the aural equivalent of a drinking a sixer of Shaeffer’s; it goes down easy and rocks hard. Your head might hurt later, but that’s the beauty of Valient Thorr—rock ‘n roll that doesn’t kick your ass a little is kinda lame. Luckily, Valient Thorr will kick your ass all the way back to ’76.

--The Robo-Pirate

2 comments:

The Stash Dauber said...

or '71

venessa said it sounded like cactus or montrose

i was impressed

3rd or 4th time i've heard someone born after 1976 refer to cactus recently

flippinwatermom said...

Wow, flippin' watermom needs a dictionary and a trip to Tower Records. I shall take a listen to this band.