Old school metal fans, you are going to like this. They might be from Sweden, but Astral Doors has mastered the classic heavy metal sound that dominated the late ‘70s and in so doing, has delivered a rather pleasant surprise of an album. Shamelessly copping their style from Rising-era Rainbow, the sextet nonetheless aces it, from the melodic riffs, to the accompanying organ, but it’s singer Nils Patrik Johansson who steals the show. Also heard on 2004’s underrated Wuthering Heights album Far From the Madding Crowd, Johansson possesses an absolutely uncanny Dio-like voice, and his leather-lunged howls dominate Astralism. The highly catchy “Black Rain” boasts a contagious riff reminiscent of mid-‘80s Jake E. Lee, “Fire in Our House” and “Israel” are similar in epic scope to Dio’s The Last in Line album, and “Oliver Twist” is an interesting, swaggering attempt at Dickensian metal. The album does tend to overplay its hand, carrying on for 55 minutes, but for all its goofiness (“In Rock We Trust” is a little too much), the album is good, retro fun.
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