Astral Doors is a Swedish heavy metal band formed in 2002. They have released five studio albums and an EP. Their latest work is Jerusalem, released in January 2012. Their vocalist has been the subject of critical acclaim, and is often compared to Ronnie James Dio.
Nils Patrik Johansson, Joachim Nordlund and Martin Haglund all inhabited the Swedish town of Borlänge, where they all practiced with their respective bands at a club called the Rock House. Nordlund and Johansson barely knew each other, and neither were aware of Martin Haglund. Johansson's melodic metal band, Staircase, lost its drummer in 1991, and their search for a replacement led them to Johan Lindstedt, who was a drummer for a techno thrash metal band. Lindsedt played briefly for Staircase before moving on to a rap metal group, Buckshot OD.
In 1998, Johansson and Lindsedt were in another band together: Barfly. Influenced by Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, the band went on until 2002, when it broke up following a musical decline during their fourth demo recording. The engineer for the demo recording was another Rock House regular, Nordlund, frontman for the band Erina. A lot of Johansson's trademark Dio-esque sound was developed during this time.
Soon after, Nordlund and Lindstedt began writing together, and they contacted Johansson. The songs that came out of their collaboration dealt with "dark, cosmic" material, the best example of this was "Far Beyond the Astral Doors". They named themselves "Astral Doors" shortly after writing the song. They hired Joakim Roberg, whom they had collaborated with on some of the songs, and Martin Haglund of the band earflog, as members, and began the project.
The band reached a temporary climax when they were a support act on Blind Guardian's 2006 tour for the album A Twist in the Myth.
Of the Son and the Father:
Their sound was allegedly born through their song "Of the Son and the Father", about the clergy sex abuse scandal in the United States. Haglund, who had begun the project as the bassist, soon switched to guitar, and Mika Itäranta was hired to play bass. All six members were now in place. Of the Son and the Father was released in 2003, and shot to No. 5 in Rock Hard, a well known German metal magazine.
The cover chosen for OSF depicted priests being crucified for their crimes. The cover did not encounter any problems in the west, but was challenged by the Japanese distributor, who felt it was too offensive. As a result, the Japanese cover features a spaceship, and is called Cloudbreaker, after the first song on the album.
Evil Is Forever and Astralism:
Evil Is Forever was a critical release for the band. They toured non-stop following its release, as the album landed them spots in several tours. Evil Is Forever is actually a James Bond reference, to the song "Diamonds Are Forever".
Astralism, released in 2006, continues the band's aggressive style, but the lyrics, according to the band, are those of "the thinking man... a quest for peace". This shines through in songs like "Black Rain", which is a song about the Atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima, and "London Caves", which is about the terrorist attack on the London underground. Its cover has not faced criticism, but features a nun praying in front of a stone face, crying blood.
New Revelation and Requiem of Time:
New Revelation is released in 2007. This album takes on a more Power Metal influence and contains even some prog elements. Fans start to become critical of where Astral Doors is going. The lyrics do not cease to take on the most entrenched of human values. Johansson continues his barrage against society including a song aimed straight at then U.S. President George W. Bush entitled "Cold War Survivor". Another highlight is a song about disaffected youth, "Shores of Solitude".
Requiem of Time is released in early 2010. This is Martin Haglund's last album with Astral Doors. He mixes this record and then retires to family life. Mika Itaranta also retires from roadlife to have kids. This album has 14 songs with 2 more songs for the Japanese edition on King Records. Ulf Lagerstrom is hired to replace Itaranta. He has played in both Barfly and Lunatic Parade with Nils Patrik Johansson previously. Lagerstrom was perceived as an effective replacement who could have been the bass player all along. This album is hailed as the best and worst from Astral Doors, depending on who is asked their opinion.
Nils Patrik Johansson - Vocals,
Joakim Roberg - Organ,
Joachim Nordlund - Guitar,
Johan Lindstedt - Drums,
Ulf Lagerström - Bass,
Martin Haglund - Guitar,
Mika Itäranta - Bass