Astral Doors - New Revelation
Locomotive Music
Heavy Metal
11 songs (47'36)
Release year: 2007
Astral Doors, Locomotive Music
Reviewed by Crims

2003 saw the release of the very first CD from Astral Doors and since then they’ve managed to release three more full-lengths with their latest being this, New Revelation. I have to admit that I’m a very large fan of Astral Doors. I was instantly drawn to their debut, Of Son And Father, and have been the proud recipient of a large amount of enjoyment from the rest of their catalogue. I’ll be the first to admit that the general sound and scope of the band is not all that original and that the band borrows a lot from early Dio and any various number of Heavy Metal and AOR bands that are best documented in the other reviews of this band, but Astral Doors play with such passion and conviction this has never bothered me in the least. If I were to do an actual tally of my most listened to bands of the last 5 years Astral Doors would actually be near the top. Each release to this point has two absolutely killer, amazing songs; songs that I find to be some of the best in the genre and one’s that I’ve listened to more than I would like to admit. Bride Of Christ, EVP, Cloudbreaker, and London Caves are some of these songs that I hold in a high regard. The rest of the track listing on each CD has always been consistently well above average or great, but the two outstanding tracks per release have raised the bar on each individual release. To this extent New Revelation is a minor disappointment to me. As good as the songs are on this release (and I’ll get into more detail on this) there is no single song that completely blew my socks off. So is the rest of the CD good enough to equal Evil Is Forever, Astralism, and Of Son And Father?

The basic sound of the band has not changed. The production is slightly different, but only people who have listened to each release many times over will notice the subtle change in guitar tone. The music is still follows the same principles with the normal amount of variety found on any quality Heavy Metal release. That is, fast, up-tempo tracks, mid-paced rockers, a ballad, and an epic, progressive track. The songs are guitar oriented with catchy, melodic AOR choruses, with spurts of double bass and Hard Rock inspired mid-paced riffing. There’s even the ever-present keyboard work which I can best describe as low-key, subtle organ playing. Nils Patrik Johansson is an immensely talented vocalist (one listen to the often misunderstood Far From The Maddening Crowd by Wuthering Heights should prove that) and while he mostly stays in his gruff, Ronnie James Dio influenced voice for the majority of the CD we hear more of his pure-clean voice and some oddly catchy harsh vocals for a few lines (which seem to go with the story told in the song when used, rather than being a new gimmick for the band). Sure enough, this style is nothing new but it is so polished and well-performed that it should still appeal to fans of the style. The guitar work is especially note-worthy as well as few bands play with such energy (this is also thanks to the blistering drumming) and as always the solos and leads are highly melodic, fast, and seem to fit perfectly to enchance the energy and passion of each song.

Naturally, I have to touch on the quality of the songs here. As mentioned earlier, each release has had two fantastic songs with the rest being of a lesser-quality but still quite good. I would say that this time around the overall quality of the songs is at a higher level than previous release, but the absence of that “killer” song somewhat hurts this release. Many songs come close, but when I listened to Bride Of Christ and EVP I wanted to listen to the song over and over again, and nothing on this release has done that yet. I did always find that by the end of the track listing I started to lose some interest and I didn’t really find that here because the songs that tread off in a more progressive, less generic path are more interesting and better executed this time around. The best example of this would probably be Waiting For The Master as the tempo changes and vocal performance reminds me more of a dummied down Wuthering Heights song than an Astral Doors song, and this is a compliment not a knock. Though it doesn’t have the knock-your-socks-off riff and chorus of say, Bride Of Christ, it shows the band venture off into more inspired song writing territory than playing simple Heavy Metal/AOR music. Also, Mercenary Man (the long progressive song) is their best attempt at the token epic song. The build-up on here is typical but perfectly executed as the opening atmospheric keyboard melody eventually turns into the theme riff melody and topical lyrics about the conflict in the Middle East I found to enhance the mood and emotion of the song. What we basically have is an all-around improvement to the song writing which while it doesn’t expand the context of the Heavy Metal or AOR genre it does, however, incorporates just enough surprises (check out the melody and rhythm near the end of Cold War Survivor for an atypical Astral Doors moment) and tempo changes to make things more interesting in the large scope of things than previous releases. Where as I'd normally listen to just a few songs on each release and on occasion the whole track listing I think I'll listen to this, as a whole, more often

Fans of the previous Astral Doors releases should like this a lot. At this point I’m undecided on how I feel about this release compared to the others. At this point in the listening time-line I find it more consistent and better than Of Son And Father and closer to the level of Astralism (my previous favorite). Either way, it’s not a huge difference in the better or worse category. People who already dislike Astral Doors, either for the vocals or lack of envelope pushing will still dislike this. If you’re new to the band start with Of Son And Father and chronologically check out their material if you can; the other reviews of this band are very accurate on this website, in my opinion, and should be checked out too.

On a side note, after writing this review I finished my sixth listen of this CD and I think The Gates Of Light, with it's Power Metal infused energy and chorus is this CD's EVP/Cloudbreaker/Bride Of Christ; I am not entirely convinced of this yet which perhaps helps prove the point that the material on this release is subtly more intricate than before and therefore may take many more listens to fully sink-in and I look forward to those listens as no single song on here is worthy of the skip button and there is always something to be said for that.

Killing Songs :
New Revelation, Waiting For The Master, The Gates Of Light, Cold War Survivor, Mercenary Man
Crims quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Astral Doors that we have reviewed:
Astral Doors - Astralism reviewed by Ian and quoted 89 / 100
Astral Doors - Evil Is Forever reviewed by Mike and quoted 83 / 100
Astral Doors - Of The Son And The Father reviewed by Danny and quoted 90 / 100
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