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Astral Doors - Black Eyed Children Award winner

Astral Doors
Black Eyed Children
by Jeff Legg at 28 March 2017, 3:58 AM

With their 8th full-length studio album, “Black Eyed Children” (via Metalville), set to drop April 28th, ASTRAL DOORS is proof that even the most gifted, talent-rich musicians continue to get better with time, and after 15 years together, there are no signs of decline in the quality of music they create. Upon the release of “Notes From The Shadows” back in 2014, I was convinced that the band may have reached the pinnacle of their comprehensive catalog, as there would be no way that they could top that record. I was wrong… This new material, as a whole, is as good as I’ve heard from this extremely gifted band and only raises the bar even higher.

Hailing from Borlänge, Dalarna in southeast Sweden, ASTRAL DOORS is comprised of Nils Patrik Johansson on vocals, Joachim Nordlund on guitar, Mats Gesar on guitar, Ulf Lagerstroem on bass, Johan Lindstedt on drums, and Jocke Roberg on keyboards, and plays what once was considered traditional Heavy Metal, back when Heavy Metal was the “cash cow” of the music industry. Being an elite-talent driven, “thinking man’s” style and because it’s becoming increasingly different than most contemporary formats of Metal, most would likely label their music a bit more on the Power Metal side. Whatever you want to label it, this is the sound that Heavy Metal was born of.

The cornerstone of a band is most often a charismatic lead singer, and Nils Patrik Johansson is extraordinary. Carrying the torch for ASTRAL DOORS, as well as LION’S SHARE, WUTHERING HEIGHTS (2003 - 2011), and, up until a few month ago, CIVIL WAR, Johansson is everything needed in a front man; powerful DIO-esque vocals, the stage presence of a legend, and a mastermind of a songwriter. The twin guitars of Joachim Nordlund and Mats Gesar are heavy, thick, and masterful, resurrecting old school power chords and guitar interludes with precision.

With all of that being said, talent will only get you so far in any form of rock n’ roll, so writing great songs is the only way to be elevated to “the cream of the crop” status and ASTRAL DOORS’s songwriting prowess is where this band truly shines. “Black Eyed Children” is some seriously profound arena-ready rock from, what I believe to be, one of the most talented, underrated bands currently playing Heavy Metal. There is no question that these guys possess a wealth of essential elements that the forefathers of traditional Heavy Metal built into the foundation of this genre and they display this authenticity with masterful ease. Soaring vocals, guitars that ebb and flow between a wall of power chords and lower tones of the blues, and a thunderous bottom end, are what drives each and every track on this must-have masterpiece.  Although there are no weak tracks found anywhere here, “We Cry Out”, “Good vs Bad”, “God Is The Devil”, and “Lost Boy” are standouts that really touched me, with my two favorite tracks being the atmospheric and magical, “Walls”, and the edgy, classic 80’s guitar-filled killer, “Die On Stage”.

In a time when most new bands are straying into the saturated and trendy sub-genres that highlight the many different styles of screams and growls, ASTRAL DOORS continue to stay true to their classic Heavy Metal roots and by doing so, honor the Metal Gods that so deeply influenced their souls. With the many different ranges of Metal being released these days, “Black Eyed Children” is such a breath of fresh air that will have you raising your horns high in honor of all that is Heavy. This is easily one of my favorite releases of 2017.
 

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. We Cry Out
2. Walls
3. God Is The Devil
4. Die On Stage
5. Tomorrow’s Dead
6. Good vs Evil
7. Suburban Song
8. Lost Boy
9. Slaves To Ourselves
10. Black Eyed Children
11. Jesus Christ Movie Star (Bonus Track)
Lineup:
Nils Patrik Johansson - Vocals
Joachim Nordlund - Guitars
Mats Gesar - Guitars
Ulf Lagerstroem - Bass
Johan Lindstedt - Drums
Jocke Roberg - Keyboards
Record Label: Metalville
     


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Edited 01 December 2022
 

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