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Total Universe Man

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Album Review

Conventional wisdom dictates that it's almost impossible to inject a fresh perspective into authentic, classicist hard rock without turning it into something other than "classicist hard rock"...duh! So the wacky outer space mythology concocted by North Carolinians Valient Thorr, who claim they come from the planet Venus, inevitably becomes a major point of interest while one is appraising their "classicist hard rock" music — never mind an obvious distinguishing gimmick from contemporary competitors. Especially since, for all this good-humored absurdity, the band's amusing mythology still plays second fiddle behind the consistently inspired songwriting of their sophomore outing, Total Universe Man, and its electrifying mixture of hard rock and metal. More specifically, it's the head-on collision between charismatic singer Valient Himself — with his larger than life, wild-man preacher persona — and the Marshall stack-melting power chords, searing dual harmonies, and scalding-hot leads traded by guitarists Jjin and Eidan Thorr that ignite sparks in sh*t-hot tracks like "Showdown," "Palm Dealer," and "Blow Up the Pyramid." Also praiseworthy is the opening prologue (which sees Valient Himself exhorting "true believers" into action, MC5-style), "Man Behind the Curtain" (with its memorable breakdown section and a lick copped from Metallica's "Hit the Lights"), and the arguably album best "I Am the Law" (which follows a Beefheart-esque "intermission" with a devastating band performance, a drum solo, and a turnaround riff of monstrously groovy proportions). In short, Total Universe Man is a total album experience, filled with adrenalin-pumping intensity, borderline loss of control, a little pure lunacy, and, perhaps most compelling, the chutzpah to make everything Valient Thorr does sound arena-sized, regardless of their club-based existence at the time of its recording.


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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Total Universe Man, Valient Thorr
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