It’s been 10 years since Valient Thorr, the bearded, denim-vested troupe of hard rock avengers, landed in the Triangle from Venus with their twin-axe attack and mythical backstory. And as the rowdy rock band celebrates its decennial, we celebrate the traits that have kept the band’s hordes of die-hard Thorriors fervent and growing since 2001. Through some 10 members and five albums—from 2003’s self-released debut, Stranded On Earth, to last year’s, Stranger—Valient Thorr has been a model of consistency. Witness these five model Thorr songs, culled from dozens of equally worthy candidates.
Valient Thorr plays Kings Saturday, April 30, with Static Minds and The Dynamite Brothers.
“I Am The Law,” from Total Universe Man
Valient Thorr arrived fully formed with a mythological backstory that posited the band as rock ‘n’ roll nomads from Venus and involved intergalactic time-travel and Walt Disney. So, of course this is the type of band that would name a song after the single most memorable quote from Judge Dredd. And of course it’s a badass anthem, showcasing Valient Himself’s preacherly conviction: “You’ve got the future! Oh, baby you’ve got the power! Don’t try to stop me! I am the law!”
“Exit Strategy,” from Legend of the World
The lead single from 2006’s Legend of the World is a heavy-handed, but incisive indictment of the Bush-era wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “They sent your son with a plan/ To fight some war in a desert land/ He ain’t gonna come home again/ He’s makin’ some money for a Texas man,” rails Himself at the song’s outset. Subtlety isn’t the goal here. Also, check the sweet and well-placed nod to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” that follows immediately.
“I Hope The Ghosts of the Dead Haunt Yr Soul Forever,” from Immortalizer
As the opening track on 2008’s Immortalizer, “I Hope The Ghosts of the Dead Haunt Yr Soul Forever” set a high bar for the rest of the album. This first LP featuring guitarist Voiden Thorr made every effort to unleash the shred, opening the band’s straight-ahead blend of MC5 boogie rock and Exodus thrash for some seriously gnarly solos. This song is the album’s best synthesis of those two instincts.
“Vernal Equinox,” from Immortalizer
Valient Thorr is no stranger to unexpected detours. Total Universe Man featured the ominous, vaguely free-jazz informed build-up of “Intermission: Theme from 6th Grade Watercolor.” But on Immortalizer, the intermission feels more fully realized. The acoustic guitar instrumental echoes Southern blues and the guitar lick in Beck’s “Loser.” Thorr’s detours are more then filler, as they betray that this band has a lot more going on than the average hard rocker.
“Double Crossed,” from Stranger
In the video for Stranger’s lead single, the Thorr gets its revenge on some noisy neighbors, first by violence, and then by the only means that matters—a ragin’ rock show. The song itself is a battle hymn par excellence, filled with the band’s now-customary harmonic guitar leads and one of Valient Himself’s most inviting exhorations: “Hey all right! You know it’s judgement time. So tonight, you are my enemy!” This sort of fist-pumping release is exactly why Valient Thorr exists.