Album review: THOR – Beyond The Pain Barrier

THOR - Beyond The Pain Barrier

Deadline/Cleopatra [Release date 04.08.17]

Canadian born bodybuilder Jon Mikl Thor has been acting and singing since the mid 70s, fronting his eponymously named band and, on stage, combining his strength with steel bars and blowing up hot-water-bottles to give a great show.

A winner of several bodybuilding competitions, Thor has released some wonderful and classic albums, my introduction to Thor’s hard rock being Keep The Dogs Away (an expanded edition also released by Cleopatra), and the more metal Only The Strong from the mid 80s. This new album a real blistering set.

Released to coincide with his appearance at the Porispere, and with a forthcoming North American tour, we have 12 new songs that rock in the most blistering manner.

Thor has worked with a number of young musicians here, including members of Cloven Hoof, Thundermaker and Iron Kingdom, and some of the guitar work is amazing. As for Thor’s vocals, he still has it, strong, perfectly metal forged.

Opener Tyrant features some great guitar, although the drums are solid, and the vocals stand out. The Calling features some fantastic guitar shred and nice vocal harmonies – it nods back to early 80s proto thrash. The title track nods in a more power metal direction.

A change of pace for When A Hero Dies, more balladic, still heavy, some deep vocals that suit. There’s a great modern sound and production on On Golden Sea – a well written and cohesive track that really rocks – and lots of melody too. Twilight Of The Gods is classic power metal at the thrashier end.

Closing track Quest For Valor, running to over seven minutes, is a classic epic. Or an epic classic. Either way I really enjoyed it.

Look out for a forthcoming documentary film Return Of The Thunderhawk, and Cleopatra’s work on other parts of Thor’s catalogue. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

Thor speaks…

1) Fantastic new album. How did it come together?

When I was on tour last year, I would fly into various cities and have a backing band learn the material, do the concert and the next day fly to the next city.

When I played Minneapolis, Minnesota I met up with John Leibel and his band. They were very talented. We seemed to hit it off and discussed the idea of performing and/ or recording in the future.

2) How did you find working with all these young musicians?

Very inspirational.

3) Your new material’s more metal than the 70s and 80s, was that a deliberate move?

It just happened to move in that direction when we combined our musical forces.

4) How have the festivals been going?

Phenomenal. The crowds have been amazing. We just came back from headling the Porispere Festival in Finland. There were 15,000 screaming fans at the concert who knew all our songs and sang with us.

5) Do you still perform with steel bars and hot water bottles?

No. I still twist microphone stands into a pretzel. We put on a heck of a show with lots of costume changes. The strength is in the music!

6) How did this forthcoming documentary film come about?

I started working with film makers  Melker Becker and Mattias Lindeblad in Sweden and producer Jacob Windatt at Grimbrothers Entertainment in London. I brought the project to Brian Perer, CEO at Cleopatra Film and Music in Los Angeles. He gave guidance on how we could produce the movie and make it better. We shot more scenes in Finland recently with Deb Freytag on the camera. Randy Herreid  came aboard as a co-producer.

The movie is really coming together. We are getting Film Festival offers to screen the film from all over the world.

7) How did you get to work with the label Cleopatra?

I was fortunate enough to meet up with entrepreneur Brian Perera, CEO of Cleopatra Records and his incredible team in Los Angeles.

He gave me this opportunity to make a comeback and be creative.

8) I think they’ve done a fine job with some of your catalogue. Your thoughts?

Yes they have done a stellar job with the amazing deluxe re-releases and new albums. They have helped me become a multi-media artist by capitalizing on recording, video, and movies. All aspects of the entertainment industry.

There is still a plethora of material in the vaults just waiting to be released. No one can do it better than Cleopatra.

9) Who would you most like to record with?

I have really enjoyed working with all the guests who are on the “Metal Avenger” and “Beyond the Pain Barrier” album. I don’t feel there is anyone else.

10) Who would you most like to tour with?


11) Are you still acting?


12) How’s your clothing business VM Sports doing?

I’m involved with other things now.

13) What next for the Mighty Thor?

Writing books, painting. I plan on going into politics. Also I’m working on a hologram of myself.

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 March 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

Watch again

More about Josh

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.

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