'The Spirit of Music Embodied'
When Swedish guitarist Joachim Nordlund and drummer Johan Lindstedt formed Astral Doors in 2002, their intent was to approximate the greatness of their metal heroes Rainbow, Dio, Purple and Sabbath.
Their sound was cemented upon adding vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson, keyboardist Jocke Roberg and bassist Martin Haglund (who soon moved to second lead guitar when bassist Mika Itaranta was recruited).
Their Of The Son And The Father debut garnered them a slot at the prestigious Wacken Open Air festival. Their Evil Is Forever follow-up in 2005 proved darker and more atmospheric. Tours with Metal Goddess Doro brought them more fans.
Now, with the help of super-producer Peter Tagtgren in his legendary Abyss Studio, Astral Doors breaks down any and all sub-genre considerations with Astralism, a sound…a way of life…a credo.
Chatting recently with vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson, and noting that it had been stated that when the band was formed that their intent was to "... approximate the greatness' of their, I first wondered just how one went about such a thing and yet still hold true to the musical witches brew of sound that they own today? "When we started out, we just wanted to create songs that once again would capture the power and quality of the old masters. We realized that if we could come up with something like that, we would win. “Of The Son and the Father” our debut album are very much influenced by Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio. Many, many rockers took that album to their hearts and I actually think that we managed to capture the spirit of our heroes and bring it to a new more modern level."
"Today we continue to write songs in the same style. Why should we change a winning concept? AC/DC have been doing the same album in 30 years, so I guess that we can release a couple of more of our classic hard rock albums. The most important thing for us though is to write good songs, and we would never release a song that we can’t stand up for."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your new 'Astralism' CD, how would you yourself describe your sound and what they are to expect? "The songs on this third album are the best we’ve ever done: classic metal tunes influenced by the eighties, but with the rough sound of the new millennium. Power vocals and fat guitars, mixed with Hammond organ is a brew you just have to love."
Your album title 'Astralism' is an interesting choice, but perhaps it originates from a more personal standpoint for you? "Well, I just came up with the title one day, and everyone in the band thought it was cool. It’s also some kind of statement. The album is pretty political if you look at the lyrics. The world of today is a scary place with all the terrorism and suicide bombers. Astralism can be seen as the new world religion, saying: Hey, stop fighting and bang your head and sing along to the music of Astral Doors instead."
If there was one track on 'Astralism' that truly encapsulated Astral Doors at their musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "Holy shit, that’s a tough one. In my opinion, the song “Apocalypse Revealed” brings out all the ingredients of Astral Doors: it’s epic, it shows all our sides musically and the lyrics are about the end of the world. What more do I need to say? It’s an awesome song in my book."
And while we are revealing things, just where did the bands name originate and what else could it so easily have been? "Oh, everything went so fast in the beginning for this band. When the first companies started to offer us deals, we didn’t even have a name for the band. One of our first songs was entitled “Far beyond the Astral Doors”, and we said; ok, Astral Doors is cool enough. We had some other suggestions up on the table, but I can’t really remember any of them."
Having toured with the lovely Doro P., I'm wondering what kind of shows they turned out to be - based on her following and such? "I have done many interviews where they have asked me about our tour with Doro. The truth is though, that we did just one concert together, in southern Germany. We were the special guests and had the honour to play just before Doro. I can’t say much about it really. We kicked some serious ass on stage as usual and after Doro’s show, we hung out with her and her band for a while. Doro is probably the nicest person on earth. She also played Wacken Open Air the same year as us, so I guess you could say that we’ve done two shows together."
Can we expect to hear any different sides of Astral Doors on this new CD ... musical elements that haven't featured on the other albums, perhaps? "Good question. Perhaps this album is a bit more modern than the previous two. The influences are still the same, but I think this is an even angrier album than “Evil is Forever”, without taking away our sense for great melodies. The lyrics on this album are the best I’ve done."
Just for fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'London Caves' - Have you ever been down a London cave and if so, where the bloody hell are they located?! "Hahaha, I got no idea what-so-ever where they are located. This is a serious song. It is about the terror bombings of London last year, when terrorists blew up busses and subway-trains. I try to get into the brain of a suicide bomber and find out what the hell can drive a man to kill innocent people in the name of God. It’s so sick. The war against terror is so important. We want the earth to be a peaceful place. Terrorism is a theme I write about quite often. The song “Cloudbreaker” from our debut for example is about 9/11."
'Oliver Twist' - Are you a fan of the movie ... or perhaps the author Charles Dickens?! "I use the Oliver Twist story as a way to describe a bands way to the top: Don’t stop just because people laugh or spit at you, just go on, and you can reach your goal; like Oliver Twist did in the end."
'Vendetta' - What's the biggest vendetta that you have forced upon someone in order to get your own back ... and did it work out for you?! "My biggest vendetta is actually the fact that I have succeed as a musician and this great song is all about that subject. No one believed in me, but who the hell is laughing now? “Vendetta” is about the fact that I did it. The people that didn’t support me in the beginning did not……….my personal vendetta."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "I would like to do any of Madonna’s big hits from the 80’s. Some of them would be awesome in the shape of heavy metal. “Like a Virgin” for example."
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Are you talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins or the bird? Since I’m Swedish, I take it for that you speak about the ice hockey team. I’m a big hockey fan, and I love all the classic teams in the NHL. Who can not love the mighty Mario Lemieux? What a great hockey player. All respect to the penguins……..!"
Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future. "Thanks! I hope and believe that we one day can tour the United States; it would be a big thrill for us!! In the meantime: - Stay Evil!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Astral Doors' new CD, just answer this easy question: Their Of The Son And The Father debut garnered them a slot at the prestigious Wacken Open Air festival in which year?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before September 15th with your answer and the subject title 'ASTRAL DOORS SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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