(Hint: Scroll down and you can play the song Child of Rock'n'Roll while reading this blog:)
Hi everyone. I have been so busy translating press and articles, that I have not given you my thoughts on the new Astral Doors album, Jerusalem (Metalville MV 0022 Germany) . Having just moved to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, I was back in Vancouver just when I had to turn over the key for the temporary apartment to the landlady. It was on Friday, November 4th, that my copy showed up delivered from CD Inzane in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. Twice they have sold out of this album. That should tell you something. I had the good sense to pre-order it. The North American release is set for Jamuary 31, 2012. No word on label or distro yet.
Admittedly, I express a personal bias in favour of this band, but I am damn proud of it. The medium in which they write and create music is the perfect balance of genres which I prefer and listen to in Metal. I am so blessed to have their music in my life, and to have this undying passion for it. This is something that Astral Doors have earned. All I can say is wow!
Oh, hey there is a list at the bottom of the article of all the places that you can order the album from right now. Thanks to Tina and the Astral Doors Fanpage on Facebook that put together this great list:) The undying work of Tina is part of what makes up this cool on-line community of hard-core Astral Doors fans.As a fan, I appreciate both hers and the band's efforts to reach out on-line. I gotta thank Astral Doors for the thank you on the back of the album cover. They don't even do thank you's as a rule, so I humbly view this as unnecessary, but suggest that Tina deserves it in spades who is also thanked!!!!
Jerusalem is a masterpiece of production, haunting vocals, and ace musicianship. There are shitloads of hooks and tricks that keep the album interesting and timely. Given that Astral Doors work within the domain of Dio/Blackmore based Hammond B3 backed Hard/Rock Metal, this album is the definitive take on all things sort of Dio/Tony Martin Sabbath related as interpreted by the next generation of musicians. Astral Doors' originality in their adaptation of this style of music is not to be missed. They take the time and care to come up with the sort of music they love that reflects the legacy with true admiration of the giants' music upon whose shoulders they stand. What that means in plain English is, this album ranks right up there with Back Sabbath's Heaven and Hell, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow Rising and Dio's Holy Diver as far as milestones go. Artistically, it compares to and goes beyond Headless Cross and Tyr (2 of the mightiest post-Ozzy albums ever construed by the mind of Tony Iommi). Politically, it dwarfs them all, since none of the aforementioned masterpieces were particularly bent on changing the world lyrically.
Lyrically, Astral Doors have never shied away from controversy. They have tackled a variety of subjects and themes that have left their marks indelibly on the psyche of this writer's soul. This time, Astral Doors have given their definitive take on religion and interfaith conflict that has so plagued humanity throughout history. The problem with religion is not the spirituality, which everyone can agree on as being a good thing, but rather the "My God is greater than yours" attitude which has caused so much death and human suffering throughout history. No one is spared Nils Patrik Johansson's wrath on this one.
The album starts off with the Seventh Crusade, a galloping beat with a great keyboard build. I like the note that Nils Patrik Johansson starts on. It has rock, and balls written all over it. Patrik's lyrics here point out how the Knights of the first Crusade couldn't have known their actions would have such far reaching consequences as far as conflict into the future right to the present goes.
With a Stranger's Eye has more of a straight ahead feel . There are lots of references to astrology. Astral projection is referred to through the observation of self from an external POV. Lyrically, Pat seems to be saying it is no good being stuck to the established religions, but to look to much bigger spiritual pursuits that are promoted by Eastern spiritual practices.
Child of Rock'n'Roll is about a grand search for enlightenment but only finding it in the music. This song has a lyrical progression that sets a new standard in this genre of Classic Hard Rock Metal. The bottom end is just mixed so tightly on this album - maximum production techniques have been utilized to strategically deliver energy, where needed, to make each song as dramatic as possible. This song reminds me of my personal search for something better. I found it when I went to Borlange to see Astral Doors CD Release Party and when I went to Head Bangers' Open Air this summer to see them. So this song describes me perfectly. It keeps coming back to the music. Patrik's Euro accent really makes his delivery of the lyrics cool. This gives him the unique style he has, that separates him artistically from Dio. That sense of his own identity is never lost. Jocke Roberg's keyboards are awesome in that they back this song incredibly just simmering under the edge of Joachim Nordlund's guitar.
Take Pearl Harbour for example. Described by Nils Patrik Johansson as a bit of a sequel to Black Rain, it takes a look the other side in the situation. Patrik does honour those who died on both sides in each song, except this one completes the circle as it takes us back to the 1st attack that precipitated the events in Black Rain later, as it were. With Remembrance Day upon us, this song has particular meaning in my life as I remember those of my family that served for the allies in the Second World War.
My Lost Crucifix just out "black sabbaths" Sabbath by adapting the genre of the groove to a more recent sound with perennially socially conscious lyrics. I have no idea how they do it, but this band absolutely fucking rules in their ability to impart something new on the listener after even multiple listens. Lost something? Well, looking for it never sounded so good. The ending of this song is just so beautifully contrasted against the aggression which began the tune.
Babylon Rise - This song really hits home because it focuses on the present. Much like Babylon went down for its amoral values, the decline of western civilization is upon us again as we see corporate greed and political corruption become the standard of the day. Just look at the Occupy movement the world over. People are getting fed up. The Muslims are breeding, not concerned with the trappings of consumerism, and are poised to greatly gain influence in Europe where their immigration has exacted a great social impact on European countries.
Suicide Rime - Some really dramatic Alice Cooper-type effects on the vocals make this song a keeper. I really gotta say how much punch Johan's drumming has this time (album) around. Vocally, Patrik sounds more like the singer of early Krokus. I sense this song is about distrust of anyone, and anything. The guy in this song is about to go postal, not sure on what, but the fact he typing a suicide note while imbibing pretty much sets the tone for the heavy moral trip laid down in this song. Patrik Johansson never ceases to blow me away with the lyrics he comes up with, Man! Thought-provoking to say the least.
The Battle of Jacob's Ford is about the victory of Saladin in Syria over Christian Crusaders in 1179 that percipitated his victory in the Holy Land in 1187 to recapture Jerusalem for the Muslims. This song illustrates the need for victory without the need or right to question the righteousness of the cause. The one event in religion that wasn't touched upon this album was the Inquisition, but this song does a great job of hitting home similar points.
Operation Freedom is a great sarcastic commentary on selling the Iraq War for false reasons. It is not that I really disagree with the action, so much that politicians like George W. Bush, the biggest political liar, poser, and just plain stupid puppet of the right that ever existed, gets away with lying to our faces then just fades away into the background without consequences for his (their) actions. Yes, this bullshit war was about control of oil and the biggest lie ever perpetrated upon the voters. He sure made Obama's job more difficult. The song is just epic again. It really is amazing how Astral Doors come up with a package to deliver the drama of the music toward a particular theme.
I was just listening to The Day After Yesterday and I am blown away by the use of atmospherics by Astral Doors. The dynamics are second to none. The story seems to be about Jesus crucifixion "slaughtered by a sin for his sin." As Christians, people try to practice what they preach, but never really seem to get it right. Hence, the consequences of the present are with us right now because by definition, the day after yesterday is today. This song has a great acoustic intro. Then it just cuts in as an EPIC rock tune. Patrik Johansson just mixes the lyrical content with the drama that the genre of the music imparts. Listen and ye shall be rewarded!
But sometimes, you just want to listen. Writing this blog while actively listening makes it kind of improvised as far as opining goes, but I really gotta say that Joachim Norlund did an amazing job as initial recording engineer and guitar player. The effects that are put on Patrik's voice are so subtle. Jerusalem is a real anthem. The city's turbulent history for the struggle for control of the city between peoples makes for a great angle that Nils Patrik Johansson takes on this one. Joachim Nordlund's precision on the guitar sound allows the depth for the keyboards of Jocke Roberg to shine. There is a particular combination to all the ingredients that make up this very complex band. They don't take themselves too seriously, but always can hammer home a metal tune that wants to change the world. Again, the mix on Ulf Langerstrom's bass and the drum sound of Johan Linstedt are tight and defined with a razor precision. Daniel Bergstrand and Rickard Sporrong are able to mix a great album because the product that has been delivered is so well defined. Astral Doors know their sound, their niche, and their target market. It is just for each and everyone of us to spread the word about this great band.
Things have been rocking as well because the White Vinyl Copy of Jerusalem arrived from Nuclear Blast Germany. Unlike others, I believe albums were meant to be played. It sounded warm and heavy on vinyl. This album like others is meant to be played loud. When played loud, the secrets of Jerusalem are revealed in all their glory. It is not often when an artist (Nils Patrik Johansson) can say in other interviews, that this is their best work yet. But here, Astral Doors have done so. They have achieved the seemingly impossible. This band needs to be on the top of world because:
- They make a statement about the world condition.
- They use the genre of music they play in to create drama theatrically to augment their composition.
- They have come up with a system of production that far surpasses other acts in Hard Rock and Metal.
- Their mix is unique in edge and tightness.
- Each musician does their part to make great music. They sure don't look the part, except for Patrik, but you couldn't wish for a better or more professional attitude in creating the music you love.
On a lighter note, I really am gonna look forward to the new t-shirts. Well, the guys are re-planning the tour that was cancelled this fall and I'll just have to get one while they are on tour. Anyway, this is a pretty good start on my Jerusalem commentary, so I'm gonna sign off and let the music do the talkin'. Oh, and did I mention Astral Doors are:
Below is the Official Video for Child of Rock'n'Roll from benzon72 on youtube:
You can order Jerusalem, here: