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This time there is a lyrical thread of darkness and occultism on the album, spinning loosely around the black bible, which singer Johansson in interviews explains with the fact that they want to reclaim topics such as satan and evilness from black metal bands, since it is in fact heavy metal they are dealing with and not some glossy rock or pop.
This is well crafted and well executed meat- and potato metal and it feels like the band has arrived at a spot where they feel very comfortable. If you have come across Astral Doors before this is very familiar and instantly recognisable since they are operating in very restricted areas and this is no expection. Some bands pull that off six albums in a row, most don't.
The songs are all spanning from a minimum of 'good' to 'really good', with the exception of the somewhat dull and non-saying Walker The Stalker and Desert Nights, and there is a high level throughout the album, but it tend to feel a bit too thick during the middle part. I would have wished for just a few more uptempo cuts, catchy choruses and melodic vocal lines by Johansson to break it off nicely. There are a few to be found, but not even close to what we got on Jerusalem and especially on Requiem Of Time (2010).
Astral Doors fans are typically divided in two groups: the ones that like the more melodic and refrain based side, and the ones that like the dark and epic side. I belong to the previous ones, which makes me miss their trademark strong and melodic refrains and choruses here.
In general, this is a slower paced album than usual, and if you like Astral Doors' more epic side, which could be heard partly on Jerusalem and Evil Is Forever, you will definitely find this a good album.
This is perhaps not a giant step forward quality-wise in their career but definitely not a step backwards either and it should be seen as a proof of strength to remain a reliable name in the scene for quite some time.