VALIENT THORR

VALIENT THORR

"they came from Venus to destroy the cities."

Planet Earth in the year 2008 must look like a pretty strange, messed-up place to an outsider. From election-year sensationalism, global warming hysteria and widespread warfare to reality show overload and the latest celebrity meltdowns caught on film, it may seem to some that The End is imminent.

But there's hope for the human race. Just ask the extraterrestrial members of Valient Thorr, the rock n' roll saviors from Venus who crossed the solar system to warn Earthlings about the error of our ways, delivering a message of redemption wrapped in rock n' roll, with pounding drums and shredding guitar licks. The grizzled time-space travelers may look like a chapter of the Hell's Angels, but there's much more to this band than meets the eye. Their combination of heavy rock n' roll and thought-provoking lyrics gives their legions of fans--dubbed the "Thorriors"-- food for thought through their staggeringly productive output. The group has averaged close to 250 tour dates a year, and is currently polishing up their fourth album in five years, Immortalizer, set for release on June 17 on Volcom Entertainment.

After fleeing their overpopulated, war-torn home world of Venus and finding some prime North Carolina real estate, Valient Thorr officially announced their current Earthling incarnations in 2001. Since then, these interplanetary dudes have been on a single-minded mission to spread their revolutionary, metal-tinged gospel as far and wide as possible, to ensure that we don't share the Venusians' fate. And it's literally a universal message, Valient Thorr's charismatic frontman, Valient Himself, states: "It doesn't matter where you're from, it's where you're at and what you're gonna do."

The new record follows the band's self-released 2003 debut, Stranded on Earth, which prompted their first major tour of North America—a whirlwind 47 shows in 52 days. Upon signing with Volcom in 2005, Valient Thorr released Total Universe Man, the success of which allowed the Venusians to quit their undercover Earthling day gigs—which included the members earning Masters Degrees in various Earth studies and Valient Himself's stint as a 6th-grade teacher--and hit the road full-time, including high-profile stints on that year's Vans Warped Tour. Those incendiary appearances got the band asked back on the 2006 Vans Warped Tour, which coincided with the July release of their Volcom follow-up, Legend of the World, and found them headlining the main stage with Warped favorites NOFX and AFI. In all, 2006 was a breakthrough year, as the band toured incessantly for a stunning total of 272 shows with such varied acts as Joan Jett and the Black Hearts, Eagles of Death Metal and Gogol Bordello.

Valient Thorr is not a group of aliens to rest on their laurels, so 2007 was equally intense. Starting off on a lengthy trek with fellow heavy rockers Fu Manchu, Valient Thorr also spread their intergalactic message to Europe for the first time, and co-headlined the inaugural Volcom Tour with labelmates the Riverboat Gamblers. The year was capped by a triumphant victory, as Valient Thorr was selected by metal heroes Motörhead to accompany them on a three-week tour of Germany.

Taking some much-needed time off of Earth's crazy system of roads, Valient Thorr recorded Immortalizer in Seattle with legendary Earthling Jack Endino, producer of seminal albums by Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney as well as younger upstarts Hot Hot Heat and High On Fire. Recording with Endino in his hometown of Seattle, Valient Thorr continued to work from the starting point of their classic 70's influences such as Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy as well as those groups' more obscure yet equally important contemporaries like Master's Apprentices and Sir Lord Baltimore—all of whom kept the guitars heavy while adding some funky bounce to the rhythms. It's no coincidence that Valient Thorr shares more in common with that past era of greatness than today's formulaic, watered-down sounds. As Valient Himself puts it, "When rock lost its roll, it lost its soul. We're putting the roll back in rock n' roll!"

While older albums tackled the world's problems straight on with a blunt, in-your-face attack on the Bush Administration, war in the Middle East and capitalism run amok, the band is now taking a more allegorical approach. In addition to double-barreled assaults on the pompous A-holes in D.C., Immortalizer uses veiled references to comment on the everyday obstacles that life throws at everyone, whether it's dealing with the death of a family member, your old lady running out on you, or trying to keep your head up while being a homeless traveler.

The latter is a particularly personal situation for the band, as embodied in the new track "Nomadic Sacrifice." Considering that Valient Thorr has spent the last three years touring with barely a break, it doesn't leave them much room for a "normal" life, let alone a little personal space from time to time for your average Venusian. These road warrior experiences will be captured with Valient Thorr's upcoming DVD, In Heat, expected to drop this April.

Valient Himself's previous experience as teacher has also informed his lyrics. "This crazy Earth system creates rotten people with messed-up values," he explains. "I wrote some of these new songs about these rich parents who don't care for their kids, they just put 'em on pills and turn 'em loose for the schools to worry about. Luckily, they've got Valient Thorr to show them the error of their ways."

The lyrical content isn't the only heavy element on Immortalizer. New guitarist Voiden Thorr brings a sharper metal edge into the fold, joining fellow six-stringer Eidan Thorr for an über-heavy, double-axe attack. Meanwhile, drummer Lucian Thorr and bassist Nitewolf lock down earthy grooves, ensuring that the faithful will keep their heads nodding and fists pumping.

"Our live show is where it's at," Himself explains, "no one can deny that. We play all over the world, with kids singin' our songs, and they don't even speak English! It makes you realize how small the Earth has become through the internet."

Indeed, these hardcore Thorriors memorize their favorite Valient Thorr songs, make their own Valient Thorr jackets, stickers and posters, and track the band from show to show, town to town. Cities worldwide have their own Thorrior chapters, each with their own logo and set of colors that are unique to them, all of which come together through the global forum at www.thorriors.com.

Valient Thorr will—of course—be back on the road for most of 2008, bringing their heavy metal mayhem to Europe throughout June and back in July to start touring the U.S. in support of Immortalizer's release. And you can be sure the band won't be slowing down anytime soon; after all, Earth needs them now more than ever.

"I might be from another planet, but I know the language Earthlings speak, and it's definitely rock n' roll," says Valient Himself. "We're just getting started. I got some last words, but I hope I don't have to say 'em for a good long while."

ROYAL THUNDER are a four-piece rock band based out of Atlanta, Georgia that seamlessly blend the elements of heavy classic rock, 90's grunge, and forward-thinking progressive rock. Propelled by the powerfully emotional voice of frontwoman Mlny Parsonz, the guitar heroics of Josh Weaver, and the dynamic drums of Evan Diprima, ROYAL THUNDER have been described by NPR as “a revved-up Southern hard-rock that howls like Led Zeppelin astride a psychedelic unicorn” and as "magnificently compelling rock music" by Decibel Magazine. Formed in 2004 by Weaver, his brother, and his best friend, the band went through several lineup changes over the years before settling on their current lineup, which also incorporated second guitarist Will Fiore as of 2015.

In 2007, ROYAL THUNDER self-released their debut EP and started touring with Jesse Stuber on drums. By 2010, Relapse Records took notice and signed the band, beginning with an official re-release of their self-titled EP then later releasing their 2012 full-length debut, CVI. Stuber left the band after CVI was complete, replaced by drummer Lee Smith. The band toured with Lee Smith and Josh Coleman (who also joined during the making of CVI on second guitar) for a few US tours. CVI was widely praised by critics, including Rolling Stone's David Fricke, who said that Weaver’s playing has “the meaty, base elements of early-Seventies British blues” and Metal Hammer Magazine, who stated, “through the powerhouse vocals of Mlny Parsonz and a refusal to keep their sound boxed, Royal Thunder look set to be the underground's next big breakout stars”. Other publications such as SPIN called the album "stunning" while Revolver Magazine described it as "essential" and The Guardian called the band "elegantly powerful," and compared them to prime Led Zeppelin.

Since current drummer Diprima joined in October 2012, the band have been heavily touring the world, including full North American and European Tours with Baroness as well as prominent US tours alongside Monster Magnet, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Pallbearer, Enslaved, Corrosion of Conformity, O'Brother and many more. The group have also played high-profile festivals including SXSW, Bonnaroo, Scion Rock Fest, Bragg Jam, Roadburn, and numerous others. In a gap in their heavy touring schedule in 2013, the band recorded CVI: A, a set of acoustic renditions of three songs from CVI. ROYAL THUNDER then entered the studio once more in January of 2014 to begin their sophomore LP, Crooked Doors which was once again recorded, produced, and engineered by Joey Jones of Aria Recording Studio, with whom the band has a long standing working and personal relationship. Crooked Doors was released worldwide in April of 2015 via Relapse Records and has been praised by dozens of high-profile publications including Stereogum, The Guardian, and NPR, the latter of which called the Atlanta band “a modern master of hard-rock.” Though they’ve been around for ten years, ROYAL THUNDER seem to have only just hit their stride – the future stands to be even more uproarious than the band’s exciting early development.

FLYING SCORPION

A crowd pleaser and engine starter since early 2011, Flying Scorpion consists of rhythm guitarist Alex Kling, lead guitarist PJ Coleman, bassist Chris Ruiz, drummer Charles Barth, and lead vocalist Chris Elliott. Each member carries an extensive local resume. Kling is a member of local rock staples like Slowpoke and Mourning Maxwell, while Coleman hails from former rock outfits Black Box Burning (Plane View) and The Pilot Episode (Archamedes). Both Kling and Coleman also play in the Smith Family Band, one of the valley's brightest stars. Barth also fronts his solo acoustic folk act Saddles, which Ruiz and Coleman often assist in fleshing out as a full band live. Ruiz and Barth were also components of the now-retired Black Hole Calcutta. Chris Elliott brings in the southern drawl, getting back to his roots while also keeping it brutal with one of AZ's finest death metal acts - Composer, Meet Corpse. Kling, the Scorpion patriarch, started writing and recording out of his own home in late 2010 – soon to be joined by Coleman, and eventually Barth, Ruiz, and after months and months of searching, Elliott came to complete the package.

So pack up the kids, bring your swimsuit, and get ready for an unforgettable evening with the guys. Just remember kids, scorpions can fly, and magic is real.

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