Astral Doors: Testament of Rock – The Best of Astral Doors

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Astral Doors: Testament of Rock – The Best of Astral Doors
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Astral Doors: Testament of Rock - The Best of Astral Doors
Heavy Metal
Metalville Records
January 25th, 2011
Release length: 59:59
Myspace
Website
Astral Doors has never really obtained the recognition or acclaim that they deserve for whatever reason it may be. one of the only things that could possibly be a reason for this is the vocal approach, which will be discussed later on. Either way, the band formed back in 2002, and eight years and five full-lengths later, the group felt it important to put out a Best Of compilation entitled Testament of Rock – The Best of Astral Doors. Of course, this feels like it’s a little too soon, but the compilation does feature a collection of songs hand picked by the band themselves, so clearly this is going to be a best of release according to the band, and not by fan reaction, sales, and label interpretation, which typically makes the best compilations for a band, regardless of whether many might argue that it’s too soon for such a release to exist.

While it’s true the band hasn’t even hit their tenth anniversary milestone, which may would automatically assume would call for such a release is the band has a good amount of releases available, which Astral Doors do, but at the same time it makes for a good segway to get new listeners into the band. Given the sudden drop in popularity and critical feedback being so negative on their most recent offerings, it’s perhaps a smart move from a marketing standpoint that this release come out, but at the same time this may alienate some of the newer fans of the style, showing that the band didn’t quite sound like they do now back in their earlier days. This recording features tracks from their first release, Of the Son and the Father, all the way up to their last album, Requiem of Time. The only thing that becomes questionable from the start is the Remixed and Remastered tracks “Black Rain”, “London Caves” and “Victory”, all three of which are off their most successful release (according to fans and critics), Astralism, so hearing these are going to be slightly different then the original versions will be something to cast fear in the hearts of the die hard fans who buy this effort.

Of course, many of these songs are fantastic, and really do show the power and talent behind the band nicely. “Time to Rock” still is an amazingly catchy track that has a more upbeat Hard Rock feel then many of the other tracks on this release, and “Bride of Christ” still packs the same impact that it did the first time you hear it with it’s straight forward Heavy Metal sound that just comes at the listener without mercy and full of energy. But, shortly into this compilation, you will eventually come across these Remixed and Remastered tracks, and it’s clear what has happened. The original versions of these tracks had no real problem, but because of the success they had, the band probably wanted to take extra care of them. The only thing is that the songs have a much clearer production to them now, sounding crisper and clearer, and while it’s not a bad thing and doesn’t hurt the music in any way, they just sound different from every other track on here in the long run.

Of course, not every song is going to share the exact same audio quality, but those tracks truly stand out more then they should. Sure, “Power and the Glory” also has a richer, clearer presentation to it, but it’s nowhere near as crisp as those tracks in the long run. This is also one of the few songs on here that just really doesn’t have any genuine impact, coming off out of place for the release. While the band may be really into the song, it just sounds very weak due to how clear the quality of this one is verses how heavy the actual music comes off on the song. This track also seems to have a more folk feel to it then anything, and the vocals are clearer and don’t sound like the more harshed singing that sounds reminiscent of Dio, further pushing the Folk atmosphere of the track. This is really one of the few tracks on here that hold it back, though “New Revelation” has a more Melodic approach to it then the more Hard Rock vibe many songs like “Bride of Christ” give off, or “Slay the Dragon” with it’s hard hitting chorus that will have fans chanting along with the singer from the first utterance of the track’s name.

The big allure of this compilation is the previously unrelease track “Victory” that brings this release to a close. The song isn’t too far off from what the band has released in the past, though clearly has more of a victorious march anthem approach to it. The track itself does manage to retain the overall heaviness that Astral Doors brings to their material, and has a good deal of energy for the kind of song it is, but without the keyboards, this song wouldn’t be anything more then what one would consider a Manowar rip-off. If you’re a fan of the band and have all the tracks on this compilation, or just don’t care for best of releases in the first place, then this song is worth the ninety nine cents to download, but it definitely does not make this compilation a must own if you’re not too swayed to buy it for whatever personal reason you may have.

Like any compilation, Testament of Rock – The Best of Astral Doors has some material that just simply doesn’t live up to the rest of the fantastic tracks on the release. However, this one genuinely does feature what could easily be called the best of Astral Doors, keeping the not-so-thrilling tracks at a very minimum. The material on this release does a nice job summing up the band’s sound throughout the years, and features plenty of hit worthy tracks, and many well known songs that sum up the band’s overall musical approach in five minutes or less with a great deal of energy and talent seething from practically every track on this compilation. If you have never had the opportunity to check out this band, then this is easily a great jump-on point for the group the familiarize yourself with what the group sounds like, despite the less-then-warm criticism they have earned lately.

01. Cloudbreaker – 3:29
02. Time to Rock – 4:02
03. Of the Son and the Father – 4:52
04. Black Rain (Remixed/Remastered) – 4:24
05. Power and the Glory – 4:08
06. Bride of Christ – 3:38
07. New Revelation – 4:24
08. Slay the Dragon – 3:37
09. London Caves (Remixed/Remastered) – 3:27
10. Evil is Forever – 5:23
11. Lionheart – 5:04
12. Quisling – 3:58
13. Testament of Rock – 5:27
14. Victory (Previously unreleased) – 4:06
Overall Score: 8.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metalville Records via Freeman Promotions.