“Invisible Circles” by After Forever

Artist: After Forever
Title: “Invisible Circles”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 8/24/2004
Genre: Melodic Gothic
Rating: 7.5/10

After Forever teased fans with what they were capable of on “Exordium”; now with “Invisible Circles” we get a better idea of the kind of power that this group holds in its hand. The band is labeled as Melodic Dark Metal and this fits especially well based on the lyrical storyline that is the basis of the album. The Soprano that is Floor Janses blends her amazing voice with the sad topics of loss, hardship and disappointment in one’s self. Behind her is a forceful group of talented musicians made up of Bas Maas (guitar, vocals), Sanders Gommans (guitars, grunts), Luuk Van Gerven (bass), Lando Van Gils (synths) and Andre Borgman (drums). The 6 member band has a full and in your face sound based on their musical abilities and the varied style of vocals presented during the songs. Both Sanders and Ben offer Floor accompaniment during the songs to some good result. Lead Singer Floor Jansen is stunning in her looks and a hurricane with her vocal prowess. One thing I felt when I heard her sing was a commanding power that is unlike the group’s peers in Nightwish and Epica (also Dutch and led by former After Forever guitarist Mark Jansen). The piece wastes no time in showing you that After Forever means business with the rousing “Beautiful Emptiness” and it begins the tale of a young girl, a child of loveless parents. The enclosed booklet allows you to get the whole story in a lot more detail throughout its 16 pages. The story itself has some interesting moments but the dialogue between the central characters that is blended in some of the songs takes a little bit away from it. The level of some of this seems distant, and my guess was they wanted you to feel this was being overheard from a distance. That kind of perceptions is better left for video or television since an album makes you question your hearing or the recording process. I think that to make this a better concept album, the dialogue should have been less prevalent and perhaps spread out more between the songs..

There are a number of solid tunes on the album. One of my favorites is not heavy at all, but is a slow piano piece by Floor alone, entitled “Eccentric”. During this tune, we get to see a softer side of Floor and just how beautiful her voice is when used in this fashion. Some fans might be reminded of when Amy Lee of Evanescence does this type of thing, however I feel that Floor has a better overall presence.

Musically interesting at many points, I feel listeners will take to tracks like “Through Square Eyes” and “Blind Pain”, mainly for the different changes in time and technical ability displayed. After Forever has a few good points in their favor and they do not sound like a Nightwish clone. This allows you to absorb their music and not feel like you have heard this somewhere before. “Invisible Circles” is the group’s third full-length release and I believe this sets them apart from other groups who are fronted by powerful female vocalists. Check them out.

Track Listing:
1. Childhood In D Minor
2. Beautiful Emptiness
3. Between Love & Fire
4. Sins Of Idealism
5. Eccentric
6. Digital Deceit
7. Through Square Eyes
8. Blind Pain
9. Two Sides
10. Victim Of Choices
11. Reflections
12. Life’s Vortex

Official Website: www.afterforever.com

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