Astral Doors - 2003 Of God And The Father

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ARTIST: Astral Doors
ALBUM: Of God And The Father
LABEL: Locomotive Music
SERIAL: LM 137
YEAR: 2003

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Nils Patrik Johansson - vocals * Jocke Roberg - organ * Joachim Nordlund - guitars * Martin Haglund - guitars * Mika Itaranta - bass * Johan Lindstedt - drums

TRACK LISTING: Cloudbreaker * 02 Of The Son And The Father * 03 Hungry People * 04 Slay The Dragon * 05 Ocean Of Sand * 06 In Prison For Life * 07 The Trojan Horse * 08 Burn Down The Wheel * 09 Night Of The Witch * 10 Rainbow In Your Mind * 11 Man On The Rock

Background

As the Scorpions warned us a handful of years ago, it's a crazy world. Astral Doors care not for musical fads or in vogue hip. They're happy to be defiant and fly the flag for old school rock music. These guys are completely novelty free, completely in tune with their art and fantastic ambassadors for a classic metal sound. Sadly, due to this hype-filled world of ours, MTV probably will not care and a lot of magazines will probably pass them off as irrelevant to today's music. I'd like to set the record straight: this is one of the best debut metal albums I have heard for a very long time.

The Songs

The band aren't going to break you in gently either. 'Cloudbreaker' is a thunderous, fist-pounding mass which takes me straight back to the 80's. It's made of the same stuff that gave us 'Stand Up And Shout' by Dio (and vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson, is a dead-ringer for Ronnie James during parts of this album - though I suspect somehow he's probably taller) and its a cracking way to get things rolling.

If the promise of that kind of metal floats your boat, you'll be in your element here, as there's more than a tip of the hat to Dio throughout (in particular, 'Burn Down The Wheel' which is uncanny in places). The title track is slower, more brooding and is more in the spirit of Black Sabbath's 'Heaven And Hell'. Once again I'm completely sucked in. These guys can really play, the guitar solo leaves me smiling and almost believing it's the early 80's all over again.

With a knowing wink, the intro to 'Slay The Dragon' bears an uncanny resemblance to the riff from Deep Purple's 'Strange Kind Of Woman'. Again, the band follow this through with some decent chops, a great vocal and a chorus which will get the better of most of us eventually. I love the twin lead parts and the main solo here, it takes me back to my past as a die-hard Iron Maiden fan, hearing 'Number Of The Beast' upon its release and being blown away.

The Iron Maiden inspired twin leads carry over into the intro of 'Ocean Of Sand', which is another solid affair, promising no nonsense. Again, early Rainbow/classic Dio comparisons must be made, but I see no problem. I think this is partly a sound which a band like Ring Of Fire strive to emulate, but fall short.

'In Prison For Life' turns the thermostat up a couple of notches and turns the speed dial down. You want a chunky riff? You got it. Alongside the opening track, I love this, it's everything old school melodic metal should be. While listening to this track, I recall the album by WWIII from the early 90's. I remember being impressed by the solid sound of that album and particularly Mandy Lion's growling, slightly threatening vocal style. The overall structure here is very similar and the song has a chorus which has stuck in my head, it was after hearing this, the album went from being a good solid effort to being genuinely great.

'Rainbow In Your Mind' is has a lighter approach (but not much) thanks to the keyboards being a little more prominent. Again, as you've probably come to expect, it's very much in the Deep Purple meets early Rainbow mould. By this late in the game, I'm so into it, I'd hate for the band to surprise me and try something different.

'Man On The Rock', closing the album, is slightly bouncier and a good way to finish the album on a high. It's so Dio in places, I can imagine Nils pointing and scowling like little Ronnie as he sings.

In Summary

I really believe there's an audience out there who'll really be into this (Glory Daze's very own Alun Thomas among their number). Plagiarism never sounded so good.


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