With the precision of a clockwork German WIZARD have been belting out True Metal albums since 1995 in an exact two-year rhythm and after their last two albums didn’t fare all that well in the eyes of reviewers, especially “Magic Circle” got dumped on pretty bad due to the bad production, the quintet returns to the Viking concept with “Thor”, after having handled “Odin” six years before. Often heralded as Germany’s answer to MANOWAR, these claims are not that far off, even though I personally always thought MAJESTY were a lot closer to DiMaio and co., as they have a similarly epic approach to Metal as the Americans.
Overall WIZARD are mostly faster and also heavier than the last few MANOWAR efforts and “Thor” has a nicely fat and powerful production, just like this style needs, kicking things off with a thunderous double-bass opener in “Utgard (False Games)”, which culminates in an epic chorus that even has some light growls underneath, which nicely adds to the urgency of the song. And they keep feeding the flames of the ones that laugh at True Metal, as they use a lot of pathos in their songs to give them the right amount of epic feeling (and seriously, if you do a concept about the thunder god, how can that NOT be epic?), as proved by the speedy sing-along hymn “Asgard”, which should be headbanger’s paradise live!
“Serpents Venom” comes a bit as a surprise, as this is the ballad of “Thor”, but that does not mean that it is wimpy and sappy, because we get nicely heavy guitars and soaring vocals, while the following “Resurrection” adds a brick or two compared to the heavier tracks before, especially the riffing packs quite a punch and on tracks such as this the strong production really shows its importance, because we do not only get Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer, on the cover of the album, but WIZARD swing the hammer musically as well to the delight of any fan of this style, how could you not love the powerful choir of “The Visitor”? And here Sven D’Anna proves that he definitely belongs to the first league of German vocalists, because he has the power and expression to propel the compositions forward and as he mostly sticks to his regular singing voice instead of trying too much for the high screams, it lends so much more force to his delivery.
A strong effort of the Germans, the Viking gods seem to suit them and their style pretty well, as they bring out their strengths. Even though they lose some steam in the second half of the album, “Thor” still is quite a bit above average and fans of this epic kind of Metal should rejoice upon hearing the hymns coming their way. If you like this stuff, you won’t make a mistake with “Thor” by any means!
(Online April 3, 2009)