If you want self-indulgent, melodramatic, symphonic-tinged gothic metal with operatic female vocals and mean-ass male growls, listen to After Forever's first two long-winded albums, Prison of Desire and Decipher. If you want a shorter and more impactful listening experience, spend a little time (26 minutes and 41 seconds, to be exact) with Exordium, the mini CD that serves as a primer for After Forever's forthcoming third full-length CD called Invisible Circles. This is the sound of an already confident band expanding its lush, dense and demanding sound — and, hopefully, its audience — while continuing to make challenging and rewarding music.
Featuring six tracks, Exordium finds classically trained soprano Floor Jansen sounding more lethal and seductive than ever. And the departure of guitarist and screamer Mark Jansen (no relation to Floor) makes room for daring axeman Bas Maas and gives greater leeway to guitarist and grunter Sander Gommans. The four originals here — beginning with the haunting instrumental "Line of Thoughts," building to the choir-sung bridge of "My Choice" and concluding with both brutality and beauty on "Glorifying Means" — each build in intensity and muscle before the band lets loose on an exquisitely executed version of Iron Maiden's "The Evil That Men Do." After Forever then closes the album with its own surreal treatment of R&B/soul singer Randy Crawford's "One Day I'll Fly Away."
As if the six songs here aren't enough of a treat, Exordium comes with a bonus DVD that includes the strange video for "My Choice," a making-of-the-video segment, live footage and photos. It's a nice little package that should tide fans over until Invisible Circles is finally released worldwide.
1) Line of Thoughts (2:15)
2) Beneath (4:52)
3) My Choice (4:53)
4) Glorifying Means (5:00)
5) The Evil That Men Do (4:50)
6) One Day I'll Fly Away (4:43)
Total Time: 26:41