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CD Reviews: Review of Total Universe Man by Valient Thorr
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Valient Thorr: Total Universe Man (Volcom 2005)

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Their logo looks like it was designed by the same guy who did the ones for Krokus and Manowar, and the five members of the band are all shirtless on the cover. The track listing of the album reveals a prologue and two intermissions, the former entitled “Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean,” the latter “Thesis of Infinite Measure” and “Theme from 6th Grade Watercolor.”

Oh, yeah, and they claim to be from the future.

And also from Venus.

In fact, the band’s lead singer – whose name is conveniently the same as the band’s – was quoted in the Charleston Post and Courier as saying, “We came to this time stream in 1957 to try to convince Dwight Eisenhower that we are the true sons of the morning star. We were sent here from the center of Venus to try to convince the people of Earth to live vicariously through a purpose, to live a life with a purpose. And that purpose is rock 'n' roll."

With all of that information to go on, I know what you’re thinking. Basically, it pretty much has to kick ass...right?

You know, you’d think that. And the reason you’d think that is because you just can’t imagine they’d be any more serious about what they do than, say, Tenacious D. And, yet, the amount of humor here is surprisingly – and disappointingly – negligible; Valient Thorr leave you with the impression that they attended a Kiss concert during their formative years and, when Paul Stanley let loose with his stage patter (example: “Hey, everybody, it’s Wednesday night, but let’s pretend it’s Friday night! All RIGHT!”), they thought he was totally serious.

He wasn’t, of course. And neither is Valient Thorr. But while the Darkness have their tongues placed firmly in cheek, these guys, with their Iron Maiden / Van Halen riffage and throat-shredding screamathons, rarely break character, and that’s a real hindrance. It’s like listening to Spinal Tap’s “Hell Hole” without knowing anything about the movie. If you aren’t aware it’s a joke, it’s not clever; it’s just stupid. In fact, with a CD booklet containing no lyrics, the only songs where listeners might have an inkling that they’re kidding are the four tracks which make up the last third of the disc: “Hijackers,” “We Believe In Science,” “Tough Customer,” and “Blow Up The Pyramid.” On that last track, lead singer Valient actually screams, “All right! That’s what I’m talking about, baby! Gimme a little bit of action!” It’s been almost twenty years since anyone’s been able to utter anything like that without erupting into giggles moments later, so, at the very least, he deserves kudos for succeeding on that level.

Valient Thorr reside in Chapel Hill, NC, these days (you’d be surprised how receptive the Triangle is to Venusian expatriates) and are reportedly a live act not to be missed; this isn’t terribly surprising to discover, as, in a concert setting, I’d imagine you can’t take your eyes off of them. This disc, however, isn’t nearly as funny as it thinks it is.  

~Will Harris 


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