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Astral Doors - Worship or Die Award winner

Astral Doors
Worship or Die
by Rachel Montgomery at 09 May 2019, 6:53 AM

ASTRAL DOORS, Swedish heavy metal band formed in 2002, knows how to make an 80's homage album and make it their own! Thus far, their eleventh studio album “Worship or Die” is been one of the best I’ve reviewed so far, and it was a treat to listen to it. “Night of the Hunter” begins with ambiance which sets the scene of a woman being chased. The vocalist has a unique, theatrical voice reminiscent of Ronnie James Dio but different enough to be his own, and that is high praise. His vocal styling lends itself to the theatrical tone of the album, and for the opener, it makes it a fun song to listen to, especially with the chorus as a memorable hook.

“This Must Be Paradise” is hard-hitting with a classical vibe, thanks to the background orchestration and theatrical notes. It’s a song stylized from the 1980's, reminiscent of IRON MAIDEN and JOURNEY, but done in such a way that the song (and the album as a whole) stands on its own in originality. Again, vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson turns this album from great to excellent with his voice and I can’t get enough! The title track is just excellent. “Worship or Die” is a hard-hitting anthemic song that could be straight out of a DIO album with the band’s own stamp. Their next song “Concrete Heart” has a unique beginning compared to the last three tracks and continues the vintage sound with a contemporary twist. Here, Johansson ditches his theatrical touch for a lower, more somber tone, reminding me of KAMELOT’s slower catalog. And while “Marathon” was my least favorite (it felt too similar to the others in style), it was still a great song.

“Desperado”, along with “Marathon” before that, tease as slow songs, but they both pick up speed as the songs go on. “Desperado” is a powerful concept song with a premise that’s uncommon in this genre, but it works. The one negative thing I would say, about this, the next song “Ride the Clouds”, and to an extent the entire album, is that it can be hokey to people who0 aren’t into the cheesier elements of power metal. The guitars are excellent on “Light at the End of the Tunnel” and the next two tracks, “St. Petersburg” and “Triumph & Superiority.” The guitars on the ninth track are a wonderful slow burn and I love Johansson’s vocal range on this track. The concept and chorus elements make “St. Petersburg” a standout song, and the vocal production is incredibly crisp. There was great orchestration in the background and the guitar solo reminded me of Ritchie Blackmore’s style. The thrash on “Triumph & Superiority” is also noteworthy, especially the fast guitar solo.

The closing two songs, “Let Fire Burn” and “Forgive Me Father” are perfect. The sweeps in the instrumental break of the penultimate track lend to the theatrical style, and the closing track sounds reverent, mighty, thanks to the vocal range and instrumentation. Overall, this is a unique, wonderful album. You may not agree if you’re not into the theatrical aspect of power metal, but if you are, this is definitely worth checking out.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Night of the Hunter
2. This Must Be Paradise
3. Worship or Die
4. Concrete Heart
5. Marathon
6. Desperado
7. Ride the Clouds
8. Light at the End of the Tunnel
9. St. Petersburg
10. Triumph & Superiority
11. Let the Fire Burn
12. Forgive me Father
Lineup:
Nils Patrik Johansson - Vocals
Joachim Nordlund - Guitars
Mats Gesar  -Guitars
Jocke Roberg - Keyboards
Johan Lindstedt - Drums
Ulf Lagerstroem - Bass
Record Label: Metallville Records
     


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