Astral Doors - Of The Son And The Father
Where did this come from? Completely out of the blue one of the most pleasurable metal surprises in many years arrived at the end of last year when Swedish Astral Doors opened up and delivered their debut album, Of the Son and the Father. It certainly doesn't happen often but when the goosebumps appear in less than ten seconds you know you've encountered something way out of just an ordinary metal experience. Namely, Astral Doors deliver true classic metal of the epic nostalgic sort pulled off by the icons of metal history, namely megatherions as Black Sabbath, Rainbow and DIO and really master their craft.
So describing the soundscape of Astral Doors is one of the easiest ever- a fantastic and more modern blend of the RJD era in Rainbow, DIO's first three albums (Holy Diver, The Last in Line and Sacred Heart) and the Black Sabbath releases Headless Cross and Tyr with Tony Martin as vocal anchor. And those of you, like me, that heard hints of Patrik Johansson's (perhaps the number one metal vocalist right now) very strong resemblances with legends like Ronnie James DIO and Tony Martin on many occasions on the latest Wuthering Heights issue aren't wrong at all. But here it comes in to full bloom and the result is almost scary.
Only seconds in the opening smashing metal hymn Cloudbreaker the man delivers an introductory voice proof that if I didn't know better could have been performed by RJD himself. And that goes for the entire song that not only compiles this vocal instalment but also definitely can be said to be a modern version of Rainbow's classic Long Live Rock'n Roll. Didn't think this was even possible to accomplish without massive failure as a result but I can assure you it's the very truth. And then in the following title track, Johansson throws off his RJD disguise and instead axles the mantle of Tony Martin and once again the resemblances are dangerously close to the original. How does he do this I wonder for the millionth time This title tune itself also sounds exactly as a cut that could have been taken directly from the powerful BS Headless Cross or Tyr releases.
And down those lines the album continues to move further into classic territory. The third outing, Hungry People for instance is best described as Astral Doors own version of DIO:s Rock'n Roll Children or Holy Diver while Man on the Rock mixes Long Live Rock'n Roll with Man on the Silver Mountain. Slay the Dragon once again heavily flirts with Rainbow and so on and so on. Virtually, the entire album is thus a formidable celebration of these former mentioned classic bands at the top of their game with each and every number a potential metal hit.
The twin guitar work by the Nordlund/Haglund duo is (almost) just as excellent as the vocals. Heavy riffing of the classic type, strong rhythm sections and excellent solos are delivered with precise accuracy and the retro feeling is instantly there. The world class production executed by death metal specialist Peter Tätgren (Hypocrisy, Pain, Destruction, Wolf) takes you back to the eighties and the nostalgia again greatly triumphs and is even more enhanced since another classic true heavy metal instrument returns: The Hammond organ once again sounds in the world of metal and introduces the seventies vintage rock which is specifically true on the tune The Trojan Horse.
Doubtlessly, Of the Son and the Father is a true album of the old school that's just packed to the limit with epic feel and nostalgia and very easily finds its way in the top five list of best albums of the year 2003 and perhaps even the top ten of best albums ever. With an abundant supply of outstanding tracks Of the Son and the Father exhausts as good as the entirety of the old bag of true classic heavy metal that you can't allow yourselves to be without. Enter the Astral Doors and revisit the classic metal school tenure 'cause in this class you gladly accept detention and I much more than eagerly await the next lesson these Swedish guys will teach!