The Popstream's Underrated '08: Valient Thorr
I first heard of Valient Thorr back in 2006, when they opened for Gogol Bordello at First Avenue. And to say that I had expected a likely opening band for everyone's favorite gypsy punks to be a quintet of biker'd out thrash-rockers would be a pretty big lie. But what the hell, I enjoyed their set anyways, and shortly after snagging a copy of their 2005 album Total Universe Man I filed 'em away under "to be further investigated later" -- it's not every day you run across a band that so neatly synthesizes what's great about both the MC5 circa 1968 (enthusiastically-yelled sloganeering) and Metallica circa 1983 (crazy fast guitars). On top of that, they have the greatest band mythos since Parliament introduced Sir Nose D'voidoffunk to the world. Says Wikipedia: "The band landed their spaceship in North Carolina in 1957. They then left this time stream and came back to it (20 years later), having never returned to the same time stream more than once before. They hid a time machine near Virginia, and set off again to explore the past, and the effects of the Earth's weather on the seeded Venusian babies, who would become the first 'Earthlings'. They returned for a third time to this time stream in the year 2000. This time they became stranded on Earth because Walt Disney had stolen their time machine 21 years earlier. Also, according to this story, they are from Burlatia, which is located inside the planet Venus near the three ice rivers." Well, no arguing with that.
This year's Immortalizer caught on with the Warped Tour crowd, and any band that spends as much time touring as these guys do will eventually earn a major cult following (diehards and street-teamers call themselves -- what else -- "Thorriors"). But they're still a sort of odd subcultural phenomenon, and what with a lot of popular media's reluctance to put any real weight behind something that seems so potentially gimmicky and irony-laden, they seem to be pushed aside by assorted tastemakers into let-the-skaters-have-'em territory. But sometimes bearded, kickass fuck-the-man rock is just bearded, kickass fuck-the-man rock, and it's kind of hard to wink when you're banging your head that hard.
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