Thor - Beyond the Pain Barrier

Thor Beyond the Pain Barrier cover
Beyond the Pain Barrier
Deadline Music
Canadian born bodybuilder Jon Mikl Thor (a former Mr Olympia) has been a regular staple of the Metal scene, both as a singer, as well as an actor since the late 70s, releasing several albums and touring with a “crazy” stage show full of strongman antics and feats like blowing up hot water bottles and bending steel bars.
He never possessed an incredible range, but the whole style of basic meat and potatoes heavy metal, he was all about, could still be done fairly well based on his stentorian delivery.
People who embrace ridiculous anachronisms and “retro” acts seem to poke fun at the Canadian “god”… but for all intends and purposes, the guy has always striven to entertain and that he does. You know what? Thor has unjustly become the butt of too many jokes, especially since he returned. The style of Thor has always been this epic hard meets heavy metal, but his ability to deliver has proportionately been affected as his mortal body grew older. But still the heart is in the right place with a release such as “Beyond the Pain Barrier”.
Utilizing members of Cloven Hoof, Thundermaker and Iron Kingdom to make up his musical companions, Thor delivers a number of memorable, if not somewhat simple tracks that however work decently well, because of the nice if not a bit overambitious vocal melodies.
Opener “Tyrant” hits hard, just like Thor’s Hammer (excuse the pun)… while “The Calling” is a rousing call to action.
The title track is a bit more quirky, as things get faster and more epic and spaced out.
“When A Hero Dies” is slower, not a ballad, but a hell of a song that if it was sung by someone like a young Eric Adams, people would be salivating for days…
“On A Golden Sea” has an epic gallop, but does feel a bit plain and “Phantom’s Light” has very little going on with its bass line being it’s most prominent aspect… sorry but it verges a bit on being boring.
“Twilight of the Gods” is very much like one of those epic, spaced out moments of the past and I mean that in a good way. Again, it suffers because of the production, but if it was properly orchestrated it would have sounded beyond epic.
“Galactic Sun” is a little hippy, but catchy in a Spinal Tap sort of way, while “The Land” is epic and has some Shanty like sing a long moments that are not bad. Actually even the solos aren’t bad; it’s just that they do get a bit canceled out, in the general marred up production.
“Deity in the Sky” bites more than it can chew, as it tries to be dark and epic and the notes it would require to sound “proper” are painfully out of reach… still in principal, it’s based on a good idea.
“Thunder” is more rock n roll and more earthly and has a nice lead riff, so all is good in the land of the mortals… and immortals alike.
Lastly, “Quest for Valor” is epic and it doesn’t bore despite being 7 minutes long. I’d dare say that some of the material of this album in the hands of Manowar would have made immortal classics, while now they’re unfortunately consigned to “cult status”… ah so be it. Thor is truer than the money counting “rockers” of today, a man who lives and dies on stage for the entertainment of others. Truly a metal persona and a “god” at least in my books.