Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wien or Schnitzel with that?

Friar panics to publish blog
after being behind 2 days
Fans
Met up with Christo at the Viper Room. Great venue. Like a semi circle kind of bomb shelter from WWII. This room has character and will make a great venue for songs like Pearl Harbour and Black Rain. 

This has been a wicked day so far. Upon arriving Vienna, I had to get the train travel organized for the long hauls of the trip. There we supplements to pay for dates added later than I originally booked. 

Getting on the subway was no picnic hauling 50lbs of lead zeppelin in a suitcase (fig.). 

It seems there is a great mystery of life before me. Last night in Ingolstadt we filmed the Friar Swedish Lesson Video. The first half of the words are known. They describe a private joke relative to the band. However, the second half, bukssvågrar, carries a meaning to which I am not privy.
Mohican Joe's and my friend, Kim, said in her Facebook comment, "Language Boys!"

I can only assume this is some sort of swearing, but what I not finding out and the band is certainly not telling. I tried to get Frederik Johansson to tell me, but he only said it meant, "It' s*." That doesn't tell me a lot.I have to consign it to being another great Astral Doors mystery of life!

Openers, Monster of the Ordinary started out 3 years ago opening for Soul Rise and Nebula. The are part of the Wien Metal underground.  Mario sold me a CD and I was glad to support.  
Wolfgang from Venna is a major Airbourne fan. He has a great inverse logic with t-shirts at gigs. Instead of wearing an Astral Doors shirt at an Astral Doors shirt, he wear an Airbourne shirt, And when he goes to an Airbourne show, then he will inform others he is an AD fan by wearing an AD shirt.  The Austrians have their own, particular way of doing things. I relate to this as a cultural insecurity insofar as, they wish to maintain a clear and separate identity from Germany despite sharing a common language. This is something I can relate to, as Canadians tend to do exactly the same to distinguish themselves from their American cousins.

Show

This show had considerable presales. Yet the crowd was the type that were out for an evening of live music, not just there to see AD. Openers, Monsters of The Ordinary, played a set of garage rock.  AD played a ripping show again! I don't smoke and the club's air was brutal as everyone smoked indoors. But it was rock!

Setlist:
  • Seventh Crusade
  • Child of Rock N Roll
  • Of the Son and the Father
  • With a stranger's Eye
  • Evil is forever
  • New Revelation
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Power and the Glory
  • Babylon Rise
  • The Battle of Jacob's Ford
  • Time to Rock
  • Slay the Dragon
  • Encore:  Cloudbreaker
The band has not talking much of late. I understand the need for space during their time on the road, as well as I am NOT the only fan. I hope they are okay, but this standoffishness worries me. I work so hard trying to spread the Astral Word, that I don't know if it seems awkward to them.

Regardless, I soldier on. My task is to support the music as best as I can. I am but a foot soldier in The Legion of Rock. My task is to see that the Fans are made welcome in the Legion and to find out from them what they think that makes Astral Doors special. Budapest is a major stop for everyone and I look forward to meeting them. Until the Budapest report!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Legion of Rock takes shape!

Well, there hasn’t been a blog entry in a couple of days. Now I have to review two gigs!

Karlsrühe – 2/26/2012 – Legion of Rock


Karlsrühe - Home of Pink Cream 69!
It was a nightmare getting from my hotel that day because of public works at Ettlinger Tor. But, make it I did and Die Stadtmitte was only about a 6 minute walk from the Hotel Blankenburg. I think the hotel may have been a residence popular among females of the gay personification (nothing wrong here, no bias expressed or intended). It was very strange but the staff were extremely nice!

I grabbed some dinner at a Kurdish Falafel place. Excellent food. The Kurdish customers were impeccably dressed, even if in sweats, everything was pressed! I hit the club and met up with Werner, Uli, and René, another of the core four guys here in Germany that always go to Bang Your Head together. The dedication of Werner and Uli are again to be noted here. 3rd show between a very difficult double residential move. They were beat Sunday, but still came out to rock and rock they did.

These folks drove 400 km from Nancy, France
I ran into Jerome and Carole again from Nancy, as they were there for their second show 2nd show of the tour. They faced a 400 km journey back to Nancy on the Sunday evening and both had to work the following day. Dedication is what it is all about. Carole posted to the Astral Doors page thanking them for the two great shows they saw. The mutual respect between Musician and Fan engendered by the Social Network Revolution is quantified in spades here. Without the fan, the music goes nowhere. Without the music, our lives would be a lot more empty.

We all know, and it has been repeated many times before, Hard Rock and Metal engender the most loyalty of any musical form on the planet. It is NOT snobbery, as some may think. It is the fan that is FIERCELY protective of the music, lest it disappear in a pool of mediocrity established by trends in society, which have no place in my values or any other TRUE Metal fan’s. While society worships celebrity culture, this music provides a release which when channeled properly and supplemented by social networking allows each and every person to take part, share the passion for the music, and form a common bond with others of similar mind. Man, I could go on all day about this, but I perceive the need to “get on with the show,” as it were.

The Show


An excellent shot of Nordlund!
Die Stadtmitte has a beautiful entrance through a beer garden that was a little hard to find.

The sound was ice pick clean, like 7.1 surround here on Sunday night as Astral Doors played to quality crowd. A more traditional stage setup and club design lent itself to great sound. Astral Doors pride themselves on quality production. The set list was essentially the same as other nights, however Babylon Rise was replaced in favour of Bride of Christ which the band dedicated to a friend, without being specific. That friend of the band is also a new friend of mine. His name is Werner Kurtig and he had some very fucking cools words on Facebook this morning. Unfortunately, I do not have internet access now to get those words into this Blog. Werner gets elevated to Close Friend Status on Facebook because of his fine words.

Action shot - Pat's hair is happening unlike 2005.
But, back to the show. The band did a three-song encore on Sunday night ending with Black Rain and Cloudbreaker. I noticed how hard Johan Lindstedt plays on Pearl Harbour. This song is VERY difficult tom play on drums because of its bombastic nature. Rapidly becoming an Astral Doors classic, from the newest album Jerusalem, Pearl Harbour is the sequel to Black Rain from Astralism that dealt with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The fact they only one guitar on the road now, is cool. It has changed the sound of Astral Doors to the point where everything can be heard. Where needed, 2nd guitar parts are replaced by keyboard parts, giving the freedom for Mohican Joe Roberg to play an even more expanded roll in the band. That classic Hammond B3 sound which Roberg gets from his Hammond XK-2 thickens Astral Doors’ sound so much live now. This band is absolutely fanatical about sound and quality.

That's a wrap Karlsruhe!
Now comes some honest collector criticism. The merchandise counter has enough of a bare selection of stuff that will last until Budapest. After that, merchandise stock on the tour will be problematic due to large numbers expected in Hungary.

A few dates have been characterized by what seems like a lack of promotion, but in the end, the band always 110% every night. My job as Astral Friar is not limited to spreading the Astral Word, it is also to keep these troops motivated. A good commander knows how to rally his troops. I am NOT a commander, but pump people up with fucking wicked energy because my incredible exuberance is a task I embrace as a greater goal.

A very kind NPJ with Legion of Rock members.
What makes Astral Doors different from other bands?

  1. The union with the Fans.
  2. The kindness of each one of these unique individuals.
  3. The ability of a Metal Band to smile during promo shots.
  4. The ability to arrange music that has NOT one wasted note.
  5. The good-times-on feel of the instrumentals.
  6. The stark contrast to the most powerful words and voice in the music business. (I give it up for Jorn, but NPJ lyrics place him a cut above.)
  7. That every musician plays for the song.
  8. That Johan and Joachim arrange the music so expertly between them.
  9. The fact they embrace and support those that support them.
  10. This perfect symbiosis is the ultimate balance found in Nature, and is achieved here in spades.

Ingolstadt - 2/27/2012


Astral Friar w/ Phil Carol of Serpent Sin!
The journey from Karlsrühe to Ingolstadt covered 321 km. This was the first day it was necessary for me to activate my Eurail pass. I will miss a day or two on the tourès usage of this pass as more dates were added just before the tour embarked.


Fans


A large venue, again Astral Doors played to a quality Monday evening crowd, laying down an intimate set for their fans. A couple of guys were really into it but the language barrier prevented me from talking to them, other than to welcome them warmly to the Astral Doors’ Legion of Rock.

Susan Marack of the local Riotgod/MonsterMagnet/Promotion contingent was exceptionally cool. She contacted me through Facebook to arrange an early get together before the show, phoning me on my Euro cell even to coordinate and meet up. How kind! There has been good vibes on this tour between band camps as both have a common goal – to play music and entertain you the Fan. A worker at the Audi factory, I would feel good knowing she had a hand in building my car if I owned an Audi! But alas, I drive ’05 Subaru Outback Turbo.

Filename DSC0666.jpg - ROTFLMFAO.
Phil Carol contacted me before this gig to become friends. Turns out he was in the Opener tonight – Serpent Sin. These guys are just starting out and play a wicked prog power metal very reminiscent of Ice Age or Dali’s Dilemna for those that know their prog.  Phil’s dad, Ed, played in Skynyrd before they got famous. He comes from a good pedigree then, with dual nationality having come from a military family in Erlangen. I got a hold of the four song EP and they were all kind enough to sign it. I love demos like this because when they get big, these can become much sought-after.

This was a big moment for Phil because he digs Astral Doors and knows he is opening for someone that has made more of an impact in the Rock World in a short 10 year career than most do in a lifetime, namely, one Nils Patrik Johansson.

As a fan, and a caring one (at least I hope I am:), I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special hello this entry to Tina, Astral Queen and host of the Astral Doors Fanpage on Facebook, the Legion of Rock’s home on Social Networking.

Show


Best Opener on tour so far!
Openers Serpent Sin were astounding. I dig their music, I dig the guys, I dig their influences. They played about a 45 minute set of some pretty complicated stuff accented with ballsy bits of rhythm and real guitar hero antics. Entertaining to the max, I wish them luck in all their endeavours and they earned a Fan, just as Astral Doors had. A big Canuck fucking mega, Eh! To you boys!

Stoner Groove Rock gods, Riotgod played a good set tonight with a substantial contingent showing up to support them. Killer power-trio guitar juggling between lead and rhythm was provided by Gary who does not fail to impress.


Astragorn - The Dragon Rider!
Astral Doors' setlist:

  • 7th Crusade
  • Child of Rock'n'Roll
  • Of The Son And The Father
  • In a Stranger's Eye
  • Evil is Forever
  • New Revelation
  • Pearl.Harbour (Again outstanding!)
  • Power and the Glory
  • Babylon Rise. (Awesome.)
  • The Battle of Jacobs Ford
  • Time to Rock
  • Slay the Dragon (Don't kill Asta! - Asta is the Official Name of the Astral Doors Dragon Mascot - LOL :)
  • Encore: Cloudbreaker
Great tunes do not come without exacting a price! - Johan Linstedt
The band gave 110% to their Fans in Ingolstadt. There was a small signing session afterward and the locals were able to get there stuff signed.  Again, Pearl Harbour, people! Check out Johan's hands.

The Friar also got a lesson on Swedish this night. What a great night. The tour is running like clock work.








I never had so much fun!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Frankfurt Musikkeller Kultural Halle - Fans and Favourites!


It looks like I really have something bro write about today. The Past 24 hours have been ballistic to say the least. 

Astral Doors hit the ground running on Saturday night at the Frankfurt Musikkeller Kultural Halle. Pre-tour jitters melted away like pissing out 2nd hand beer. The band was much tighter this night. Sound was better at this club due to a more traditional set up. The band played to a crowd of about 150 and the audience lapped it up. 

Honorable mention has to go out to openers Riotgod. Feel good stoner rock combines with Astral Doors feel good hard rock to make for a most enjoyable evening of live music. 

On a personal level this is hitting me more than Beatlemania hit my older sisters! And this is only the second day of the tour. 

Can you imagine a 4 song encore? What does that tell you, people? That tells me that Astral Doors are happening. That tells me MORE people need to see and hear this great band. They changed up the set list by one adding London Caves in the encore set. This pleased me, personally, because this tune is in my top all time faves of the band. Again, they are the only band that I know that sings a song about terrorism from the POV of the terrorist. There is no romanticism here, only great lyrics that show you just how fucked up their message is.

During my post show chat with Astral Doors, guitarist Joachim Nordlund asked me what made me get into the band so much?  That is an impossible question to answer when I am in this deep. 

One thing I will say, it was brilliant to come up with the Legion of Rock slogan for the back of the Jerusalem album T-shirt.  Like the Kiss Army, this battle cry gives something to unite the fans and make ALL of you feel like you belong as you deserve to. The Legion of Rock always has a home on Facebook. Astral Doors Fan Page and Astral Doors Official are there for you - the Fan. Without you, there would be no one for this band to play for!

I write this blog with the hope that it remains a lasting legacy to perpetuate the legacy of Astral Doors long after all of us have returned to the stars from whence we came. 

Fans

This is really great connecting with all of the fellow Astral Doors Legion of Rock members. Mega Fans, Werner and Uli showed up again tonight. This is loyalty of the highest order that the band respects and honours. They also brought along Uli's friend Kurt that didn't speak a lot of English, but with my German I am learning, I was able to at least honour him in his language. Respect or kindness man, it brings a wonderful sense of fulfillment when you master it. Humanity would be so much better off  if we all mastered this. 

J'ai rencontré Carole et Jérôme de Nancy en France. Bien correcte ça de comparer nos deux sorts de Français. Fait rire en tabarnac! Des passionnés d'Astral Doors, ils ont conduit 400+ km pour y rendre au show.

Michael from Bürstadt near Lorsch, where Astral Doors played this fall, suggested they should play Kulturzentrum Batschkapp the next time in Frankfurt. This would be a larger club with better promotion to attract a larger crowd. 

I also got to meet rock journalist and Astral Doors Fan, Juergen Will. He writes for Rock It Magazine, third largest Rock and Metal mag in Germany. His girlfriend Dolores Thunder is a passionate lady from Argentina. Quiero decirte que estaba un placer de encontrarse. Tu novio, muy simpático, y ti guapísima! Mucho gusto!  Living in Germany for 30 years, she digs metal and hard rock like many of her fellow country persons. 

Sentiment when asking fans what their favourite album does not an easy answer yield. (Yoda rules!). With Astral Doors albums, there is too much attachment to the catalog as a whole for a person to answer. Therefore, it will be edited out of the Friar Mission Statement replaced with just "What are your favourite 2 or 3 songs?"

Arriving the 'Ruhe, home of the mighty Pink Cream 69. More adventures soon!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tour begins. Friar Mission Statement.

Astral Friar

Mission Statement: To give away salvation for free, namely to increase awareness of Astral Doors by talking to as many Astral Doors fans as possible and find out what they like about Astral Doors, hear their stories of going to see Astral Doors live, finding out about favourite albums/songs in the most engaging, respectful manner possible to make them feel included in the LEGION OF ROCK.

Seigburg
Poster at entrance.
So this was the first date on the tour. My hotel had the most bizarre name - Friendly Cityhotel Oktopus.  It was right next door to the club. I spent the whole day organizing a Sim Card for my Canadian iPhone. Got mine unlocked legit via FiDO in Canada. Didn't want all the viruses on my computer by trying to do it myself. 

Anyway,  went to the Kubana Music Klub early because Facebook was as good as texting for joining up with Astral Doors megafan, Werner from Bensheim. We shot the shit and had some 00's. I grabbed some dinner and we were ready to go into the club. 

AD Megafans, Astral Friar,
Werner Kurtig, and Uli Staph
There was a bit of a wait upstairs. I started talking with other Fans as well. My broken German is getting better and it is my mission to communicate with as many fans as  I can on this tour. My typical discussions revolve around:
  •     Was this their first time seeing AD?
  •     How many and what is their favourite album.
  •     Favourite song. 

Werner and I started to feel the excitement build when we heard sound check which sounded great from a distance. It is noteworthy, Johan Lindstedt only sent over his snare and hardware and is using the Riotgod drummer's kit for the rest. He really played hard last night. I think he was checking it out to see if it'll survive the tour!  

The band was late in arriving by 2.5 hours. That is how long they were stuck in traffic on a unlimited speed Autobahn for what, otherwise, would have been a 30 minute cruise from Dusseldorf Airport. 

Nordlund ripping it up!
Stressed and tired after 13 hours (and who wouldn't be) of travel, the show was a little rough around the edges for the first few songs while they got the sound right. But, by the end of the third song, they were cruising. They played six songs from Jerusalem last night, namely (not in order):
  • 7th Crusade
  • In A Stranger's Eye
  • Babylon Rise
  • Pearl Harbour
  • The Battle of Jacob's Ford
  • Child of Rock'n'Roll


If memory serves, the set was rounded out by:

  • Time to Rock
  • Power and the Glory
  • Evil is Forever
  • Cloudbreaker
  • Of The Son and the Father
  • Slay The Dragon
  • Black Rain
  • Burn Down The Wheel
  • Raiders of the Ark
Many thanks to Astral Doors Mega Fan, Werner for helping my ageing memory out.

Just before the show started, who should show up but Uli and Alexandra to surprise Werner! And what nice people they were. It was really awesome to put personalities to friends from social networking. Both Uli and Alexandra both had the most beautiful smiles. Werner is the quiet sensitive type and has been a fan longer than I have. He had a very rare red trimmed 'AD' baseball cap. These were apparently made for the first tour. I didn't even ask, believe me!  I talked to a total of about 10 fans last night. Some were young, some in their 40's. It was right across the spectrum of age. 

Merchandising was highlighted by the new Jerusalem album patch. It is small - about 3 in  (7.5 cm) square. There was also a new baseball cap with white Astral Doors embossed in Abaddon font on black. They had the new reissues from Metalville of the first three albums as well. Featuring 16 page booklets, that look great, I was a little disappointed they didn't include any expanded liner notes. However, they have been remastered with the first two albums never receiving this treatment. This alone makes Son and Evil worth buying. Astralism ended up having NO bonus track as was previously announced in the press. Pre-reissue announcements led fans to believe that 21st Century Medieval was going to be on it, as it was, on the Tour Edition version of Astralism that came out a few years ago. 

At the end of the night, I got in a 5 minute goodbye with the band, and went to crash. I was so beat. Jet lag has set in and last night was another restless one. So I read the album covers of the two new remasters.
A true Rock'n'Roll fashion statement (LOL)!
The highlight of this entry is seeing Patrik this morning and without a hangover! He is on tour, so is protecting his voice. the tour bus was still in parkling lost of the Kubana Bar this morning as I made my way to the train station. This precipitated a stop to say hello to everyone. Imagine my surprise when, Nils Patrik Johansson came around the corner wearing a beanie (tuque) with Astral Doors embroidered on it. Did you make that for him, Tina?!!!!!!! LOL!

Breakfast was included in my hotel package and I really had an appetite this morning, despite the jet lag. So today, The Astral Friar travels via Regional Bahn from Siegburg to Frankfurt. This cuts travel cost in 1/2 vs. ICE trains on DB. Longer voyage sure, but who's rushing?  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Astral Travelin'

Flight

In Vancouver last night, This Flight Tonight. After the drive, the Astral Friar had a nice visit with his sister.
Today was lunch with my best friend Mike Wiese. A very amiable chap, Mike is of German -Canadian extraction, and owns La Brasserie Restaurant. Specializing in Franco-German cuisine, his restaurant is sure to please. They also have one the best selections of European Beers in Vancouver. 

Then it was time for the drive to the airport. I left the house at 11:45 to head downtown. The boarding pass was actually printed in Kelowna because KLM lets you check in 36 hours in advance. I then took the time to check my email after I passed security. Imagine my horror when I get an email saying I need to supply my full name, date of birth, and passport info to US authorities because the flight may fly over US airspace. Well maybe during a bank turn, it might fly over Point Roberts at most. This is a small piece of land separated from the lower 48 by Canada. Look it up if interested. 

The info is obtained automatically, I would imagine, upon check-in when the baggage agent reads your passport. This airline is extremely scary and not on top of their game if they send out a message frightening passengers like this 4 hours and 40 minutes before flight time. This flight goes north over the Arctic to hit Europe it goes nowhere near Alaska that is for sure. US over-cautious security now requires airlines to submit passenger names and vital info to Homeland Security simply for "over-flying.". Sounds like a dictatorship plain and simple to me. 

I will need to get something good to eat after this flight as the food was pitiful tonight. A mixture of liver in gravy and mashed potatoes that was served as "beef.". Where's the beef? Well, mine's right here on this blog. 

So here I am listening to Astral Doors full show at Wacken 2010. This was a landmark gig for the band as they were thinking of calling it quits just prior to this show. They went over bigtime and decided to continue. Ask, you say, "Where can I find this live album?"

I did a search a while back to see if I could but any live material legitimately and found a Website out there called simfyLive. I don't know what the domain extension is. Anyway, for about €17, I could download the whole show. This is the only complete show I own. There is also one track from Sweden Rock 2008, but mistakenly labeled 2009 from a Swedish website. The single track I found was Quisling. I am very respectful of Astral Doors about downloading bootleg material. I have shared a track, here and there, with fellow fans but these are few and far between. 

The one thing I am going to miss this year is the Canadian Men's and Women's Curling Championships. Hard core fans know these tournaments to have a consistently higher level of play than the World's because of how big this sport is in Canada. 

I am really looking forward to European infrastructure. The old world has way more if it. Trains that actually run and work. In Canada, the majority if passenger rail cars are 65 years old, and the trains do a maximum I'd about 80 km on a cross Canada voyage. Relaxing and see the countryside, yes, but this country is simply too big to sustain a national rail network. Most large cities gave commuter rail, however. 

From Metalnests East and West, I have the longest commute between residences at around 5000 km. this takes me 5 days to drive. During some of these trips, I have played every single album in order of Astral Doors. 

Nils Patrik Johansson is by far and away my favourite singer. Astral Doors is by far and away my favourite vehicle for Patrik's voice. Lions Share is liked by some and Wuthering Heights is incredible but the guitar sound of Joachim Nordlund is the absolute. He plays like Tony Iommi but with the sound of Jake E. Lee. Man, he has really developed his sound and plays second to no one. I think it is about time a serious guitar mag interview  Nordlund. He is the main composer and studio owner of where Astral Doors records. It is time Joachim get some SERIOUS recognition. More later. 
Anyway, got onto Schiphol Airport and Frankfurt. It sounds like it is goiung to be problematic getting a pay as you go data/voice phone sim chip because data roaming rates are expensive here regardless of company. Seeing that the majority of shows are in Germany, I may content myself for just using data in Germany. This means updates in a timely manner in Germany only unless clubs have wifi. I will do some more research tonight.
I got to the  Friendly City Hotel Oktopus by 4:30. €58 for a 38 minute train ride. Expensive. It is just I have a Eurail that is only good for 8 days so I have to use it sparingly. Today was not one of the days I would use it. Looks like I will haveto pay cash for 3 or 4 days or hit up the band for a day or of travel on some shorter journeys.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Listening to Wuthering Heights while driving into Vancouver.

videoTuesday, February 21st, 2012. Got packed last night so today was pretty relaxed. The Astral travel has begun. Driving from Kelowna to Vancouver is an awesome spectacle of nature. Conditions today were inclement as you can see from the video I have uploaded. This mandated a trip via BC Highway 3, the Crowsnest Pass highway, because the Coquihalla is not a good highway to drive when it is raining. High Mountain altitude transitions make for some tricky conditons. Highway 3 is slower but affords more stable route conditions.

It was a great to listen to some tunes. To set the mood for a great drive, I picked this time today to listen to some Wuthering Heights. Astral Doors singer, NPJ sings in this band as well as Lion's Share. Lion's Share is like modern technical metal, while Wuthering Heights is clearly a hybrid of prog, minstrel and folk metal. Astral Doors are goodtimes-on tunes with great lyrics that just beg everyone to have a good time.

The singer, NPJ, is where the similarity ends with Wuthering. This seriously arranged muic, with some serious studies in compositon, just demands to be listened to. Around the corner, past the next "bar", you never know what instrument or tactic of song playing will come about. The wonderful unpredictability of Wuthering Heights is what makes this so special. Guitarist Erik Ravn, of Denmark, is a madman when it comes to arranging. Combining folk and Celtic influences with a Germanic sense of heaviness and a prog sense of dynamics and variety, the sophistication is self-evident. All in all, a great band. 

Austrian fan, Martin Bauer, put together a video of Scotland set to the Wuthering Heights song, Highland Winds, from the album, Far From the Madding Crowd. Please enjoy this below.

The one thing I have always been curious about is the live album that was included in the 2CD set of The Shadow Cabinet from Progpower Atlanta 2004. Patrik Johansson is a member at this point, yet I am sure it is Kristian Andren was singing on this. No word on why Johansson did not sing at this gig. A search of the Astral Doors website turns up on three concert dates in 2004, none of which conflict with the Sept. 18th date Progpower took place that year.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Final Prep and Pump Up for the Trip.

Today, my shoulder was bothering me so much, I decided to revamp my travel plan entirely. No back pack this time, it'll be a duffle bag on wheels. Having spent 2 weeks in physio for only marginal improvement, I went to a chiropractor today and got some temporary relief for this bumb shoulder. The snowboarding has been good this winter!

So, the suitcase comes with a "lifetime" warranty. The people at the company just have to say, well the airline damaged your suitcase so bad, that is the end of its life. Nuff said. I'll be packing Vinyl, some CD's and posters to get signed!

Tomorrow, I go into Vancouver to stay at my sister's place and then grab my flight on Wednesday. Tonight is packing. I have 8 Astral Doors shirts plus a Bifrost records shirt for wardrobe. Ah, maybe a Dio or Heaven and Hell shirt in a pinch. Just got my Official Astral Doors patch sewn onto an old Whitefish, Mt Ski Resort Baseball Cap. Outside the Clubs, I will be wearing a Heaven and Hell Tour jacket. Until Astral Doors makes some up, it'll have to do:)

I am very much looking forward to meeting all the fans on the road. GET OUT THERE AND SUPPORT ASTRAL DOORS, EVERYONE! This music is Classic and can endure for years to come, but only with YOUR support. Please show it. Watch for the Jacket and Baseball Cap!

Here are my Astral Doors: Desert Forces of Rock Tour 2012 promo shots so you guys can recognise me and we can shoot the shit about all things ASTRAL!




Saturday, February 18, 2012

Anticpation builds. Spotlight on Hungary.

Well, today is a most auspicous day. I was friended on Facebook by a Hungarian chap. I have explored some of the sharing and posting that has gone on there, and I am impressed . A Facebook event is published by promoter, Hammer Concerts here.

A great and long article was published here. Use Google Translate to read in English. Another article is published here. These are all based on the press release from the promoter, Hammer Concerts. The magazines and radio stations are sitting up and taking notice. This is so hard to understand in this day and age where no promotion exists other than word of mouth to keep the music alive here in Canada.

This is just the sort of momentum, Astral Doors needs to get every date sold out on this tour. The band will be publishing official pictures, and videos here on their website

The activity on the event page for Hungary is massive. There is, like, 50 threads happening. Give it up for the Hungarian fans today, please, because they are rising to the occasion in EVERY sense of the word, people - at the level of press, radio, and film!

All places that band will play are special and unique in their enthusiasm for this spectacular music, but we may all agree that enthusiasm here in Hungary is strong. They seem to effectively use social networking to express their pleasure to see this tour coming their way.

Let's meet on the tour, from February 24th to March 8th!






Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A week out from departure!



Well, the Friar is back with some words on all things Astral. It is a week out from my departure to follow Astral Doors on tour. Even though I have been over twice to see them before, this the THE time, THE trip, THE journey. Just got word that the boys had shipped their stuff to Europe. Couldn't be happier or more looking forward to this.

Well, in the past week or 10 days, some essential items have arrived via mailorder. T-Shirts from blackscape.de. Really nice print on this but the fabric is a bit thin. That is just fine, I got two. The new album, Japanese version, also arrived. More on this shortly.

Also got my new Astral Doors travel mug, This one is gonna go with me round Europe. Gotta be armed with my Joe at all times. This is a great way to honour your favourite band, create your own design etc at cafepress.com.

I gotta do the bonus track thing now. The Japan version of Jerusalem has two bonus tracks, an acoustic version of Pearl Harbour, and a remastered version of the 2002 demo, Angel of Love.

When a song is that well-written, as Pearl  Harbour is, the change in feel from electric to acoustic is fantastic. Nil Patrik Johansson's brooding voice has you feeling genuine sadness for those involved on both sides. On the electric version, you feel more anger at what went down. Regardless, the artist is responsible for a major amount of that change in that it comes from tone of voice, as well as instrumentally. This was recorded in the studio, assumably at Joachim Nordlund's Big Turn.

When I first heard these fine songs, after my copy arrived Monday, I posted the following to Facebook:

I have just had an emotional epiphany. When a song is that well written, it is amazing how well it transforms into something else upon the acoustic performance of Pearl Harbor. Nils Patrik Johansson imparts a genuine urgency to the plight on both sides. A brooding voice sends shivers down my spine when I hear this. F___ing powerful to say the least! Stunned and appreciative.

First impression of hearing Angel of Love brought this on:
And hearing the 2002 Angel of Love reamstered is quite something. A series of demos from the time with wacky song titles circulates among traders. Angel was one of them. This version is longer. Martin Haglund was not yet in Astral Doors it would seem because I was informed that is was just Joachim Nordlund that was on this. It sounds big, and there is some great guitar tracking going on. 

Nils Patrik Johansson still hasn't finalized his voice influences yet and his voice is in "development" on this one. Anyway, he sounds more like the singer of Nazareth here than Who he is so-often compared to.I am glad to hear these other key influences in his voice which shows how much depth NPJ has as a singer. Oh, and the more I listen to this band, the more important I realize Joachin Nordlund's role is as main composer and guitar player. This band really is his puppy, musically. It is that symbiosis between the how well the players craft the music in conjunction how well NPJ hammers home the lyrics - written and sung. A marvel of nature, for sure.


Well, the  battle armour is getting ready. The shirts pictured beside me are the inner layer to prevent the chainmail from chafing my skin. Live, eat and breath all things metal in the meantime, mothers. More ahead! 


Don't forget to follow the tour on Google Maps replete with blog entries for each venue directly published to the map. Here is the Map!


The Friar

View Astral Doors - Desert Forces of Rock Tour 2012. in a larger map

Monday, February 13, 2012

Press Release - Lost Punk Rock Recordings Recovered


At long last the lost tapes of the groundbreaking event that took the Toronto punk scene by storm at the Trinity College Open Punk Rock Competition in February, 1978 have been recovered. Lovingly restored by lead vocalist Groover Gamma Ray, these offerings are made distributed free-of-charge for archival purposes for the first time. Any band that dared to call itself Cuntlicker would die a quick death amidst a wash of intoxicants of the time too numerous to mention.  Amidst a climate of political change in Quebec, against a backdrop of English ex-patrie migration to Ontario, a young man found himself ripe for revolution of the social kind. Meeting up with professional guitar player, David Bacha of Cleveland, Ohio, these recordings from the the Buttery Cafeteria at Trinity College, University of Toronto, mark the blind fury of a generation. Contest rules permitted only one professional musician per band. Concentrated into one 9 minute all-energy-burning, sweat-drenching exhibition of interpretive punk stunts with such theatrical intensity, as to actually decrease the female spectator numbers by 2/3rds.

The Singer performed such stunts as:

  • Appearing onstage with face covered in black shoe polish and hair pointed up like a pygmy.
  • Having his outer clothes ripped off.
  • Eating a plastic piece of novelty-store excrement.
  • Barfing on cold vegetable soup all over the stage and mixing board.
  • Yarding a tampon covered in ketchup by the cord while held in his teeth.
  • Choking on said tampon and clearing it from his respiratory system via his olfactory passages. 
  • Screaming and writhing, doing the worm on the multudinous substance covered floor.

The first song, Fuck that Shit, better known as Start a Revolution, was written by the singer in 1977 and came from his childhood poetry collection. Song 3, Get Out was written by David Bacha on the back of a napkin at People's Foods (Dupont at St.George) 48 hours before the show.  Rumour had it the vocalist was at St. Hilda's College girls' residence to secure props for the concert earlier in the day. People were wondering if Cuntlicker would be around the following year to defend the title. Not a chance.

 (Note that this entire performance qualifies as CANCON and may be played on the radio subject to maturity guidelines. Not for the faint of heart.)

 Files: 
1. Fuck That Shit

2. Chaos

3. Get Out



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Two Years? Make the most of it and NEVER FORGET!

Patrik Johansson, a consummate entertainer
affected by the politics
of the music industry.
Note: Since this entry was initially published, Patrik has decided to stay on saying he would never quit the business, that they would have to drag him from the stage. I leave this entry to my blog as a warning though! Never take anything for granted.


Well, yesterday hit me just like a ton of bricks. Patrik Johansson said he would tough it out in the business for another couple of years and then take his leave. You know, I can't really blame him, because he stated that he had it with the music industry. The keyword here is industry. It is that way because money is always involved in getting albums out, touring, equipment needed for touring and recording, promotion, management etc.

We have seen some major changes in this business too. With the advent of downloading, we have seen CD sales fall to the point where the medium of CD's is in danger. Vinyl seems to be making a resurgence but this trend is, at best, at cult status and marginal. Merchandising now accounts for a major portion of making the ends meet while touring. One only has to look at the Evergrey/Sabaton and the Firewind/Mystic Prophecy tours here in North America of this past autumn to substantiate this.

The bottom line is, my decision to go and follow Astral Doors on tour in Europe is all the more important because there is no telling how many more tours they will do prior to Patrik taking a step back, if what he said can be taken as an axiom. Since it is all I have to go on, I will treat it as such for the meantime.

Patrik Johansson is 44 or 45 now and a grandfather already. He has the right to a life and will decide how his career shall proceed. Here is a singer that makes music for the sake of making music. Period. If not, then his comments of yesterday wouldn't be of such import. But this is a man of his word, and I have never seen him not have control of just where his career was going in the past. This would leave the world in a black hole as far as great vocalists go and leave a major gap in active present singers whom I listen to.

There is no doubt that others will come along, but no one could replace him. His Dioesque voice is but one feature of his skill set that would be sorely missed. Political, intelligent lyrics. A all encompassing sense of quality as far as what he sings on and what is released.A visceral outlook on the world, tempered by a human quality that is hurt when what he perceives an injustice is put upon those who surround him or his fans. These are but a few of the qualities that make Patrik Johansson the consummate artist.

Frank Marino, an outspoken critic of the music business.
As a fan, I would do all I could to ask him to reconsider this decision, but with the respect he has EARNED from this and every music fan.

In conclusion, all I can say as to how the industry has changed, is to point to one of its most outspoken critics, Frank Marino (admittedly, my hometown hero) and his thoughts thereon. There are a variety of articles out there about this subject of which the following is just one:

http://blogcritics.org/music/article/interview-with-frank-marino/

Frank and Patrik should make an album together!!!!! LOL!

The Astral Friar.