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Album Review

Valient Thorr were extraordinarily busy in the two Earth years separating their third and fourth albums, reportedly logging more than 500 shows, welcoming new guitarist Voiden Thorr into the fold, and losing one kidney — donated by frontman Valient Himself (normally known for spleen venting) to his ailing father. His Earth father, that is...for, you see, the North Carolina-based musicians still insist that they actually hail from the planet Venus — even though their epic fourth effort, 2008's Immortalizer, proves once again that at least their musical influences derive from very earthly (and earthy) touchstones such as AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and especially the MC5, from whom they channel not only their quasi-religious gonzo rock revival, but also the rebellious spirit fueling their alternately fantasy-laced and brazenly political lyrics. Hey, maybe the MC5 were from Venus, too! In any case, Immortalizer may just be Valient Thorr's heaviest album yet — both sonically and thematically — as the band regularly launches into enraged anthems against oppression like "I Hope the Ghosts of the Dead Haunt Yr Soul Forever," "Mask of Sanity," and "Nomadic Sacrifice," with even more verve and bile than on previous releases. Valient Himself also treads far more allegorical pathways throughout Immortalizer, frequently masking his overt paranoia on nevertheless caustic indictments like "Steeplechase," "Tackle the Walrus," and album highlight "Parable of Daedalus" (which boasts a main riff sequence reminiscent of Rainbow and what is arguably the best of many guitar solo duels found here), among others.

Additional standouts include the time-traveling mix of science fiction imagery and down-and-dirty retro hard rock heard on "Tomorrow Police" (which owes much to AC/DC); the stream-of-consciousness hilarity and liquid guitar licks of "No Holds Barred" (setting off sparks of vintage Ted Nugent); and the space blues interlude "Vernal Equinox," which somehow makes acoustic guitars sound like instruments from another, twilight dimension. But the album's emotional centerpiece may just be the apocalyptic "1000 Winters in a Row," which spells out a virtual distillation of Valient Thorr's decidedly altered state for social activism thusly: "Do you really believe the flashes coming from your television are relevant pieces of information? Do you think that there is any way whatsoever that one person can make a difference in this world? In This Time? In this place? In this reality? IS THIS REALITY?" And it's with recurring, unexpected twists such as this that Valient Thorr continue to distinguish themselves and their music from the generalized hard rock masses, achieving in Immortalizer an album that just may stand the test of time across all planets of the solar system.


Formed: 2001 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

According to frontman Valient Himself, hard-rocking metal outfit Valient Thorr were birthed on the planet Venus several millennia ago, hopscotching across the space-time continuum before finally arriving on Earth in 1957. Upon crashing in North Carolina, their time-travel machine was stolen by Walt Disney, and so the group (guitarists Eidan Thorr and Odinn Thorr, bassist Dr. Professor Nitewolf Strangees, and drummer Lucian Thorr) remains here to rock while seeking the means to return home. Valient...
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Immortalizer, Valient Thorr
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