Astral Doors - "Jerusalem" (CD)
"Jerusalem" track listing:
1. Seventh Crusade
2. With A Stranger's Eye
3. Child Of Rock 'N' Roll
4. Pearl Harbor
5. Lost Crucifix
6. Babylon Rise
7. Suicide Rime
8. The Battle Of Jacob's Ford
9. Operation Freedom
10. The Day After Yesterday
Reviewed by EdgeoftheWorld on February 6, 2012
Rocking a sound that owes plenty to the late, great Ronnie James Dio, Astral Doors goes straight for the throat on its latest release, the hooky, muscular "Jerusalem." It's no wonder they named the album after one of the holiest (and most violently contested) sites on Earth. You'll be bowing (and banging) your head in praise to whatever gods or devils inspired these mighty riffs and vocals.
The band sets the stage for the carnage to come with the fist-pumping opener, "Seventh Crusade," which has vocalist Patrik Johansson delivering a Dio-esque growl over a chunky guitar riff by ax-man extraordinaire Joachim Nordlund and a Jon Lord-style organ part by Joakim Roberg that gives the whole thing a coat of Rainbow paint, with just a little more aggression. Things continue in the same vein with "With A Stranger's Eye" before the band switches gears a bit, with "Child Of Rock 'N' Roll," which feels a bit more like something you'd hear on a Dio solo album.
The mid-tempo "Lost Crucifix" feels a bit like "Mob Rules"-era Black Sabbath, with Johansson showing off his high-range vocal skills. Those looking for something a little more groove-laden will enjoy the bluesy bop of "Suicide Rime," which features the immortal line "God is great, but I guess I'll see you in Hell."
The band's lyrics are an appealing mix of clanging swords, sorcery, history and spirituality, with "The Battle Of Jacob's Ford" name-checking Saladin, while "Pearl Harbor" takes a look at the United States' entry into the Second World War. Somewhat less complimentary to the U.S. is "Operation Freedom," which sarcastically mocks the notion of "saving Iraq" and blasts former President George W. Bush. The two most spiritually themed tracks, unsurprisingly, are the ominous "Babylon Rise" and the superb title track, "Jerusalem."
The only track that really falls short of the mark is the somewhat forgettable "The Day After Yesterday," which, other than some appealing acoustic guitar work, feels a little generic. The vocals on "Yesterday" are also a little weak in parts — but only in comparison to the majesty of the other ten tracks.
Astral Doors reaches heavenly heights on "Jerusalem," an album packed with soaring vocals and expert guitar work. If you like your metal in the Dio mold, you're going to love this one.
Highs: "Seventh Crusade," "Jerusalem" and "Suicide Rime."
Lows: A single bum track, the forgettable "The Day After Yesterday."
Bottom line: An excellent album reminiscent of the best of Ronnie James Dio's Rainbow and solo work.
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