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After Forever: After Forever

The latest self-titled release from symphonic metal veterans After Forever once again sees the Dutch band doing what they do best, delivering heavy hitting, operatic, and orchestral metal. Led by the wonderful vocals of Floor Jansen, who has perhaps the best voice in the genre, this epic and lengthy album is filled with one strong track after another. Although it will be up to you whether you think After Forever is as strong as Epica's The Divine Conspiracy (both were released pretty close to each other, and on the same label for that matter, Nuclear Blast), there's no denying the power and majesty contained on this one.

If you like bombastic metal littered with soaring female vocals, crunchy guitar riffs, sweeping keyboard orchestrations, and pummeling drum work, you've come to the right place. Highlights are the opening killer cut "Discord", one of the heavier pieces on the CD, with Jansen dueling with guitarist Sander Gommans' death growls, the intricate progressive metal of "Transitory", the symphonic "Evoke" (featuring some wild synth layers from former Sun Caged keyboard player Joost van den Broek), the menacing & slightly futuristic sounding "Equally Destructive", the manic, almost black metal frenzy of "De-Energized" (complete with some great death growls from Gommans), and the grand & majestic "Envision", which has some of the best vocal melodies from Jansen on the entire CD. If all that's not enough, strap on your seat belt for the super-charged prog metal piece "Dreamflight", featuring some tasty riffs, blinding synth lines, powerful vocals from Jansen as well as guitarists Gommans & Bas Maas.

Much like what Nightwish, Epica, & Within Temptation have done recently, After Forever have toned down the operatic element just a tad, mixed in more memorable melodies, but upped the metal ante considerably. This is a very strong release that just might help break this band here in the US in a big way. Along with the bands mentioned above, it seems that female fronted symphonic metal acts are here to stay.

Make sure you pick up the 2 disc edition, which contains a bonus DVD containing videos and a photo gallery.

Track Listing
1. Discord
2. Evoke
3. Transitory
4. Energize Me
5. Equally Destructive
6. Withering Time
7. De-Energized
8. Cry With a Smile
9. Envision
10. Who I Am
11. Dreamflight
12. Empty Memories
13. Lonely

Added: January 13th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: After Forever Website
Hits: 2855
Language: english

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After Forever: After Forever
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-01-13 17:05:11
My Score:

I'm happy to report that I had been a fan of After Forever's for a few years by the time that their signing to Nuclear Blast Records was announced, so when this happened I was not only excited about it but I also felt that I had a little bit more lead into what a whole new world of Metal fans would soon experience and most definitely enjoy. For those unaware, After Forever is a Dutch Symphonic Melodic Metal band that started out a little more on the Operatic side and this was when such a style was not as common as we find today. Since forming in 1995 they have morphed in sound and style and as result found themselves at times Dark Metal and almost always on the Progressive side. With After Forever music it is continually about power and majesty and now with their self-titled debut on Nuclear Blast Records are giving a brand new audience a taste of not only how they sound today but also a little look back into their storied past. The band was previously signed to the now defunct Transmission Records along with their current label mates Epica, another Dutch band of note that features AF's former guitarist Mark Jansen. He would start Epica after leaving the ranks of AF and while they share a label once again each band offers the listener enough difference to have them equally enjoyable without any fear of repetition. Can we say that one group is better than the other well that is up to the listener to decide and I have to admit that I like the two acts equally. The newest album "After Forever" begins with a rousing flourish as the tune "Discord" kicks into gear and offers up a great Beauty & The Beast vocal duel. As soon as the song is underway you realize just how incredible the voice of Floor Jansen is. "Evoke" shows a little more of Floor's Operatic talents but she does not overdo the format and instead mixes it up a little bit with her unusually powerful sonic voice. Musically this one is among the first that you will find your head swaying to. The band really flows with the songs like the veterans they are for while many still have yet to hear them they are not strangers to a tight production and delivery on record. "Transitory" is one that I felt is destined to secure some mosh pit frenzy and this one is a throttling tune at a number of points. The band shows their adept skill at taking a number that is lighting fast and being able to slow down for added dramatic effect. There are other instant classics to be found in both "Energize Me" and "Equally Destructive" with the first number holding single potential while the other almost guaranteed to be a concert favorite based on its "big" live sound. Along with Floor the rest of the members of the band are Sander Gommans (guitar/grunts), Bas Maas (guitar), Luuk van Gerven (bass), Andre Borgman (drums) and Joost van den Broek (keyboards) and as you listen to the release from beginning to end (a practice that I am certain you will do), you shall see just how together the group feels at every turn. Sander and Bas do great on the guitar work and seem to be in unison throughout and while each offers up some growling it is never incoherent or filler.

The incredibly strong release is the bands fifth album and while their presence is not really necessary to make it a success we find the talents of Jeff Waters (Annihilator) on "De-Energized" and Doro Pesch on "Who I Am". The more I listen to her sing the more I am convinced about Floor Jansen possessing one of the most powerful voices in Metal and with this release seems that she is hell bent on claiming the crown for her own. Her skills lie in the fact that she can change the manners of her delivery as opposed to just soaring operatic moods. The band changes up continually as the release continues and the listener will get to see the band's foray into Progressive territory with the epic length "Dreamflight". This one holds a lot of interesting stuff and is sure to become one of the favorites of those that insist the band show them what they are made of. The band offers up a booklet that is loaded with photos of the group as well as the lyrics to the songs and you would do well to memorize them so you can sing along with them in concert. The listener is sure to find this release an incredible piece of music that remains fresh and exciting even after a number of spins on their players be they physical or digital. No longer relegated to the mysterious realms of shadow and word of mouth, After Forever is claiming new ground, new fans, and bringing new life to Metal for fans everywhere.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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