“After Forever” by After Forever

Artist: After Forever
Title: “After Forever”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 9/25/2007
Genre: Melodic Gothic Metal
Rating: 4.5.5

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.

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

Official Website: www.afterforever.com

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