Thor, now there is a band I haven’t heard of in many years. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. A389 Records released a special edition vinyl Thor’s Teeth in 2012 which really was the first time I heard that name mentioned in years. When I was a young lad I had older cousins and a friend’s older brothers that loved 80’s metal, especially the NWOBHM stuff. Thor, although, from Canada was a staple play of those days. Keep The Dogs Away and Only The Strong seemed to be the soundtrack during the aforementioned friend’s brother’s lifting music. Makes sense since Thor was self-proclaimed “muscle rock”. Needless to say that I became all sorts of nostalgic when I opened the package that contained a re-release of 1985’s Only The Strong.

Thor, for all their theatrics, was generally an overlooked band in their heyday. Taking b-rate Judas Priest and Iron Maiden riffs and successfully blending them with some of the heavier hair metal like Twisted Sister, but with a packaging not too far off from Manowar and a stage show at the level of Alice Cooper, they were never able to quite create the success of their mentioned peers. It’s unfortunate too because Thor wasn’t necessarily a bad band, they just were never great. While Keep The Dogs Away was what garnered them the most attention, I feel Only The Strong has always been their best album. I’ll admit I have never listened too much of the non-80’s albums but from what I’ve heard, I’m not missing much. I feel like if more people heard the songs Let The Blood Run Red, Thunder In The Tundra, and the title track, Only The Strong would be one of those herald 80’s metal records that gets talked about to this day. It reached platinum in the UK and Canada but failed to make its mark in the US.

As if the full length isn’t enough, Cleopatra Record was nice enough to lump in The Edge Of Hell EP, early demos, and 2 live tracks on the audio side of this release. Not knowing much about anything outside the first two full lengths, it was interesting to hear what Thor did with their sound a few years later on the EP and where they came from during the demo days. The DVD side of the release is live footage from the Only The Strong World Tour and is a great indication why more people should have been into Thor than they were. You get all the greased up muscle bound barbarian glory along with the theatrics of him bending a steel bar while in his teeth and ripping an enemy apart with his bare hands. It’s so D&D corny that it’s absolutely incredible. I’m not sure if he was taking himself seriously or it was just simply to entertain. Either way, I’m all for it and it makes me really hope that he plays more shows locally than just that one off a few years ago in Baltimore. I want to see this gloriousness in person.

What place does a re-release have for a forgotten hidden gem from the 80’s in 2014? Well it’s a good trip down memory for lane that lived the ride. The album sounds a lot better than I remember and you get some rare glimpse at the bands beginnings in the demos and you get treated to an EP that is even less accessible than the full length, also with a better mix. For those that have no idea who Thor is/was, then this is the absolute perfect introduction to the band. You not only get spoiled with all the music, you get the added bonus of seeing what you truly missed not being born many years earlier. For all the missed opportunity here in the US, Thor was definitely underappreciated even if they were second rate to the bigger bands.