Tag Archives: transmission records

“Mea Culpa” by After Forever

Artist: After Forever
Title: “Mea Culpa”
Label: Tranmission Records
Release Date: 8/15/2006
Genre: Melodic Dark Metal
Rating: 5/5

In 2006 as their contract with Transmission Records was drawing to a close and the Dutch Melodic Metal band After Forever drew the curtain on their early years in preparation for the move forward into a hopefully promising future, a retrospective entitled “Mea Culpa” was released. Unlike many compilations that review a bands past and give the listener two choice tracks from each album, “Mea Culpa” would be far from the standard summary of the After Forever back catalog and instead present thirty three bombastic tunes in one of the most beautiful packages that I have ever seen for a release of this kind. The two disc set is broken up into distinct chapters with the first CD covering the years and albums that guitarist/grunt vocalist Mark Jansen was a part of the group. It’s on this disc that we find the albums “Prison Of Desire” and “Decipher” being once again brought to the front, and these are two truly powerful recordings that still have quite a bit of life to them. Knowing there are fifteen tunes on the first CD makes one think that they re-issued the entire album for the sake of the collection but what they did became all the more special as it is here we also find unreleased tracks and those that would only be found on band singles. As it begins it sets their heavy mood properly with “Mea Culpa”, an a-cappella tune loaded with big choir and brooding tones but from there is very much a dark feast of Melodic Metal. There are other Dutch musical superstars present as well and get a duet between Floor and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation) that is quite good and somewhere across the tracks Arjen Lucassen offers some guitar and keyboards.
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“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..
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“We Will Take You With Us” (DVD) by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “We Will Take You With Us”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 8/9/2005
Genre: Symphonic Gothic Metal
Rating: 7/10

Released in tandem for the CD bearing the same name Epica gives us the visual side to “We Will Take You With Us”. Filmed in the studio as the band recorded the CD, this DVD shows the group playing their hearts out in a very non-descript room with their full choir and string sections. Fans of the CD or their debut release “The Phantom Agony” will enjoy this right off the bat but I feel that new fans might not be so taken with it. It is a simple reasoning on the way this is laid out for given that this is a studio session recording it does not offer you much in the visual sense and can come across as quite boring when you realize you are just watching them play with limited motion or sitting. Mark Jansen speaks before almost every song but this is in Dutch with no subtitles. This should have been addressed before issuing this product on the world at large as I know that I would have found it nice to understand what he was talking about before each song. Performance wise this is a great product as their level of play is incredible and while the acoustic numbers are nice I leaned towards the full band and symphonic pieces that make up the early section of the performance. There is one main difference in the DVD from the CD and that is in the omission of the German version of “Run For A Fall” which was included as a bonus on the CD. It should have been left on the DVD to be honest, there was no reason to cut it.
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“We Will Take You With Us” by Epica

Artist: Epica
Title: “We Will Take You With Us”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 8/9/2005
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Rating: 8/10

Dutch Symphonic Metal sensation Epica bring us a very special recording as a follow-up to their debut album “The Phantom Agony”. On “We Will Take You With Us (2 Meter Sessies) the group presents to the listener a “live-in the studio” recording of their entire debut album with strings and full choir. To make sure that this is not taken as a clone of the first album the group also offers a couple of these numbers performed acoustically and features one unreleased song. This was a band that I found quite by accident when I was looking into After Forever. When I read that Epica (formerly called Sahara Dust) was formed by the guitarist who had left After Forever I knew this would be in the vein of music that I was appreciating. Mark Jansen’s discovery of Simone Simons allowed him to being a different level of player to the Operatic Fronted Metal band and this is surely not a secondary version of his former group either. A singer like Simone Simons brings the Mezzo Soprano as band superstar a possibility and showcasing an album where they perform live in a closed setting shows you that this group can indeed play and does so with very little difference from the fully recorded and produced release “The Phantom Agony”. Those that already own the debut might find this interesting more for the variations and the bonus tracks.
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“Exordium” by After Forever

Artist: After Forever
Title: “Exordium”
Label: The End/Transmission Records
Release Date: 4/13/2004
Genre: Melodic Dark Metal
Rating: 7/10

Closing in on the bands that are fronted by female vocalists comes After Forever. Singer Floor Jansen is aiming to make fans of the Finnish band Nightwish and Within Temptation her own with her dynamic style and vocal prowess. On this EP you will find some solid Melodic Dark Metal for not only does it feature Floor’s amazing voice but is also includes the darker vocals of Sanders Gommans. The group has grown musically from their last work with departed guitarist Mark Jansen (who is not related to Floor in case you wondered) and began the groundwork on this CD which best serves as an introduction to the coming album “Invisible Circles”. Of the 6 tracks four are original compositions and two are cover renditions. There is a great instrumental piece in “Line Of Thoughts” and the single for the CD “My Choice” is a wonderful number that might give Nightwish a run for its money if it gets any airplay in areas that feature this stuff. Floor is a classically trained Soprano and she belts out the notes on the CD with apparent ease. The included covers were interesting as a great version of Iron Maiden’s “The Evil That Men Do” is delivered with finesse. It was also nice to see a non-expected Maiden tune be used rather than the standards that everyone does. On “One Day I’ll Fly Away” we see an R&B track get the Symphonic Metal treatment and sounds pretty good considering. This tune was sung by Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge and I think I will stick with Floor on this one. Joining Sanders and Floor in the group, the members are rounded out by Lando Van Gils, Andre Borgman, Bas Maas, & Luk Van Gerven. I think we are going to see some great things from this band and if you are fans of Metal fronted by the powerful female presence this is right up your alley..
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