The hardest of rock!! The toughest of roll!!

Seriously. Those are the first words uttered by Jon-Mikl Thor on his new album, Alliance. And though Tapesque is an overused word in the world of heavy metal criticism, there really isn’t any other word that adequately describes the listeners feelings as our protagonist opens his word hole for the first time. If you’ve recently had any suturing done, it may be best to avoid this album for a while.

And yet, you probably won’t stop listening. That’s he right choice to make, because there are large parts of Thor’s twenty third full-length album that are actually pretty good. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d find myself typing when tasked with reviewing this album by Sentinel Daily mainman Scott Adams

That opening track – which is, of course, entitled We Need Musclerock – is actually one of the highlights of the record, with Thor’s rather unidimensional vocal approach augmented by the full on dementoid tactics employed by guest John Gallagher of Raven, whose presence elevates the track to a new level of ridiculousness and power… similarly, Striker throat Dan Cleary drags Ode To Odin out of the primordial soup, lifting the track considerably. When left to his own devices, on the bagpipe-with-reggae-flashes anthem Because We Are Strong, our hero adopts a sort of Ian-Astbury-doing-Jim-Morrison drawl; on the album’s best track, Rock Around The World, he becomes Michael Des Barres doing David Johansen at the Karaoke, with surprisingly pleasing results…

And that’s the thing, whatever levels of silliness Thor attains on Alliance, it’s impossible not to be pleased by the results. For a start Ross the Boss is on it, so automatically all sniping is rendered pointless. Stylistically all over the place, only successful because of the sheer weight of assistance from third party guests (and some consistently superb lead guitar work from John Leibel, who impresses throughout), outdated to the point of decrepitude… Alliance is all of these things. And yet it’s one of the most enjoyable hard rock records I’ve come across all year. Now, more than ever, it would appear the World needs larger-than-life entertainers to help people maintain some sort of sanity. Cometh the hour… twenty thousand Vikings drinking mead can’t all be wrong!

Alliance is out now.