Artist:  Astral Doors
   Title: New Revelation
   Label: Locomotive Records

In September of 2007, while waiting anxiously in the confines of Dublinís Temple Bar Music center for the debut Irish gig of power metal legends Blind Guardian, I was introduced to a Swedish support band who called themselves Astral Doors. On stage, vocalist Patrick Johansson is a Scandinavian Ronnie James Dio, with a stage presence rarely found in a "support" band, and a voice to match.  Astral Doors were a band who had a lot to say.  Now, with the release of their 5th full-length album, the band have set the ball rolling, and it's heading in the direction of superstardom.

'New Revelation' is not an album to be thrown aside with the hundreds of other power metal albums released this year, it is something much more unique, much more special.  As mentioned already, Patrick Johansson has a voice worthy of any classic metal/rock release, but I must say that there is no better place for it than on this album.  The band have always been a riff based band, something perhaps lacking in many of their rivals in the scene, and yet again the power of the riff is in full strength, as the title track kicks in and sets the scene perfectly.

Within seconds of
'New Revelation' bursting into full flight, Johanssonís voice takes center stage, and suddenly it hits home, just how killer this band are.  A chorus worthy of any classic Iron Maiden album, beautiful lead guitar work, and a spellbinding dual guitar harmony arise, and a sense of pride and relief spreads throughout my metal heart, as the realization that metal now has a new light at the end of the tunnel sinks in.  In terms of songwriting, Astral Doors have branched out even further on this album than in past releases, choosing to include references to war and religion in their songs, and in the process creating a compelling, and at times melancholic atmosphere.

'Freedom War' takes the classic fusion of heavy/clean/heavy and makes it something much much more.  Some reflective clean vocal work makes way for the head-banger worthy riffing, and the fists held high chorus.  Again a dual guitar harmony is present, and I must say that I am not complaining.  I can't help but think of British legends Saxon when I listen to "Pentecostal Bound".  It has a bluesy, classic feel, without losing any of the speed and the heaviness, which are such, a trademark to latter mentioned.  

A somber mood is adopted as 'Bastard Son' comes into play, the predictable, but wonderful, mid album power ballad, which serves as a reminder as to how much Astral Doors have developed - I can imagine thousands upon thousands with lighters aloft singing along as if the words originated at the very bottom of their heart.  The high tempo is rediscovered on 'Waiting for the Master', a thumping yet melodic chunk of Power Metal, boasting the early Maidenesque phaser on the clean intro guitar, leading into 5 minutes of proper heavy metal, which can only make you smile.  

On this track more than any, it is noticeable just how well the 'New Revelation' is produced, it has easily the best guitar tone that I've heard from these Swedes, with the balance between backing and lead vocals nothing short of perfect.  As tempting as a Duran Duran cover would be, Astral Doors 'Planet Earth' is quite capable of satisfying fans of Edguy, Iron Maiden, Dio ... I could go on.  An almost triumphant feel is present as Johansson and co pound through what is perhaps the best song on this album, encapsulating absolutely everything that one could look for in a heavy metal song.  Chorus, riffs, solo, harmonies - its all here.

'Quisling' is indeed not up to the fast tempo of many of its fellow album tracks, but that does not take away from a powerful and memorable track.
 Yes, maybe a low moment on this record, but when you take into consideration some of the gems which it is up against, it could be hit with a worse tag.  My favourite track of the album is 'Cold War Survivor'.  If there is any track that has it all, then look no further than this, potentially a single, potentially a metal classic, either way one thing is sure, it's a killer track.  Guitar solo work is at a maximum, while rhythm takes on a new live, complete with a groove-laden fill, much to my delight.

'Gates of Light' takes on a similar being, a good, solid, reliable rock/metal track, what more can be said!
 Again, a great riff, and yet again, mind-blowing guitar work, a far cry from the rather dodgy messing around on the 12th fret that many bands seem to rely on.  As the album draws towards a close, things are only getting better, as 'Shores of Solitude', followed by the closing track 'Mercenary Man' provide a triumphant and memorable ending to a perfect example of what a power metal album should sound like.  

Power, melody, emotion, all is present on 'New Revelation', and I can only hope that the worldwide metal community will wake up to the new revelation that is Sweden's Astral Doors.  A debut USA gig shall take place at the Progpower festival next year, and hopefully a return to UK/Irish shores will ensue in the meantime. Either way, this is an album not be missed, ignore at your peril!

* Review by Shadow Warrior

Tracklisting:

   1. New Revelation
   2. Freedom War
   3. Pentecostal Bound
   4. Bastard Son
   5. Waiting For The Master
   6. Planet Earth
   7. Quisling
   8. Cold War Survivor
   9. Gates Of Light
  10. Shores Of Solitude
  11. Mercenary Man

                    

 

All content copyright of The Mayfair Mall Zine unless otherwise stated.