This one is for those who yearn for the unashamed brightness and spunk of '80s-influenced power metal, as well as classic metal icons like RAINBOW, DIO, and DEEP PURPLE. On the Swedish band's third release, "Astralism", the approach is much the same as the previous releases: Patrik Johansson's spot-on Ronnie James Dio vocals, the Joe Lynn Turner-era RAINBOW riffs that move in step with the prominent keyboards, and the eminently memorable and classy arena rock melodies.
No one will mistake ASTRAL DOORS for being a progressive or groundbreaking act, nor for a pretentious power metal band. "Astralism" is the sound of a group that revels in nostalgia and understands rock/metal fundamentals and sing-along tunes. How can you not love cuts like the melodically scintillating "Black Rain" and "London Caves", the shout-worthy "In Rock We Trust", or the speedy Dio/Blackmore rager "Fire in Our House"? Much of the material is righteously up-tempo, but tunes like the haunting slow burn "Israel" and the swaggering early WHITESNAKE-ish and organ-drenched, mid-tempo groove of "From Satan with Love" work to change the pace nicely.
A formula is clearly at work here and why shouldn't it be? Whoever said that verse-chorus-verse song structures with a solo plopped smacked dab in the middle was a bad thing? The only minor problem is the production, which is surprising considering that the producer is Peter Tägtgren. The guitars and keyboards are interwoven to a fault, the riffs lack beef, and the solos don't jump nearly high enough out of the mix. We're not talking anything of horrendous proportions here, but the mix sure doesn't do these songs any favors. Be that as it may, by now you should know if "Astralism" is for you. I've enjoyed it.