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Dutch gothic metal
Line-up: Floor Jansen (soprano), Mark Jansen (guitars: 2000-2003), Sander Gommans (guitars, male grunts), Joost van den Broek (keyboards), Luuk van Gerven (bass), Andre Borgman (drums), Bas Maas (guitars).
"All elements are linked to each other in a succession of screams, growls and the main voice of Floor Jansen resounding in a non-stop reverie of energetic but passionate vocal lines. There's also the choir, which adds a lot of depth to the music. The instrumental is very tight, often bursting into baroque-esque guitar/keyboard duets in what they differ from the traditional basic guitar riffing and 'atmospheric' keyboards used by other bands. The lyrical aspect is also reasonably strong, with some parts in Latin, but the thematic is commonplace in the genre (yearning, death, sorrow, etc.). Cover art is also closer to baroque art than to anything else. Very beautiful indeed, specially when put into a jewel case. The booklet is also very well done, with great photos and all lyrics in good contrast with the background images. The production side is absolutely perfect, there is but nothing to complain about.
AFTER FOREVER does not re-invent the genre, but certainly comes to be part of the elite in the style. "
Daemon, Sweet Suffering
½2000: Prison of Desire
"Here is Dutch Prog-Dark-Metal band After Forever, from the Arjan 'Ayreon' Lucassen stable Transmission Records. Combining the darkest classical music influences (think Wagner), with pounding bass, female soprano crystal-clear vocals and melodic grunts, makes this one of the best debut albums I have heard recently. Gothic symfo pur sang, from a band with very young members. The classical choir opening on Mea Culpa sets the dark tone for the album, and gave me a good change to pick up my Latin again. That may be a little critisism on the album: the lyrics are over-pretentious, using words that I have never even heard of (and trust me, I have had plenty of education in that respect). This track seemlessly flows over in Leaden Legacy, and together they make a perfect pair. In fact, I was so impressed that, before playing the rest of the album the first couple of times I listened to it, I just replayed these two tracks over and over. The perfect voice of the female vocalist, the beautiful dark melancholic melody, the excellent grunts and the perfect production of the tracks astounded me.
(...) The guest appearence of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation and the 'Indian' on Ayreon's "Into the Electric Castle") on the last track is worth mentioning.
(...) All in all a very good album, a bit in the vein of some of the "Into The Electric Castle" pieces. But where the Castle was pure genius due to the very varied music, After Forever focusses on a handful of ideas that are repeated a couple of times."
Remco Schoenmakers, DPRP
½ 2001: Decipher
Tracklisting: 1.Ex Cathedra 2. Monolith of Doubt 3. My Pledge of Allegiance #1 4. Emphasis 5. Intrinsic 6. Zenith 7. Estranged 8. Imperfect Tenses 9. My Pledge of Allegiance #2 10. The Key 11. Forlorn Hope
"While many metal fans might rejoice the fact that Decipher is basically another solid After Forever album - in-line with their debut -, and while Floor Jansen's voice is as powerful and charming as one could ever hope, and while some tracks like My Pledge For Allegiance # 1, and Intrinsic might be deemed outstanding, the downturn of listening to the album as a whole is the heavy bombastic effect of the metal guitars, and the sometimes upsetting male grunting that disturb the celestial performance of Floor's operatic vocals. The album opens up like Prison of Desire with a 2min gothic operatic piece a-la Therion (Ex-Cathedra) introducing the listener to a cohesive journey into black metal land. If you liked their debut, don't miss out on Decipher. If you're more into ethereal gothic music, Within Temptation is a mellower version of After Forever, offering a better introduction to the genre."
-- Said Sukkarieh, musicfolio.com, 12/01
¼ 2003: Exordium (EP)
Tracklisting: 1. Line of Thoughts 2. Beneath 3. My Choice 4. Glorifying Means 5. The Evil That Men Do 6. One Day I'll Fly Away + Bonus: My Choice video, Making of My Choice
"What do you do when one of the principal songwriters in your band decides to leave? You either try to reinvent yourself or stay true to your chosen course. And judging from this first new offering since the departure of Mark Jansen last year, After Forever have largely chosen the second option. Because while only two of the songs on this six track mini-album bear the After Forever trademark established so succesfully on the preceding two full length albums 'Prison of Desire' and 'Decipher', the other four are more the odd ones out (or odd four out, if you want) than that they establish a pattern. Beneath, the first proper song on the album, falls into the first category: the use of breaks, the guitars and bass that provide the body and the keys and vocals that provide the melody, and the use of strings are characteristics strongly reminiscent of the 'Decipher' album. The inspiration for the first few seconds of Glorifying Meansseems to have been Nightwish, who After Forever supported on their European tour last year. This opening could however not be more deceptive because what follows would knock Tarja and her cohorts of their socks. This is by far the heaviest track on the album, owing in no small part to Gommans' grunts. The first odd one out is opener Line of Thoughts. Musically in the tradition of Metallica's The Call of Ktulu, this short instrumental is a sort of synopsis of the album, consisting of pieces of the other songs. My Choice is a ballad in which the rhythm guitars have mostly made place for the acoustic variety. The string section that again assists After Forever play a more significant role here. The final two songs on the albums are covers."
-- Derk, Dutch Progressive Rock Page, Vol 58, 2003
¼ 2003: Invisible Circles
Tracklisting: 1.Childhood in 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
"The first time I heard the CD, I got the impression it sounded too messy: too many things happening, hardly any points of rest. The songs sounded too complicated and not as catchy as on the previous releases. So no tracks in particular stood out above the rest. However, it is important to listen to this album as [a] whole, rather than as a collection of loose compositions. It's [the] kind of album that has to grow on you. (...) The band has not gone totally power metal or progressive metal, though there are more elements of both styles present in the band's compositions. The music sounds heavier than earlier. But on the other hand, the album also contains the very first After Forever piano ballad (Eccentric)... I'd say that the instrumental passages are in general a bit shorter than earlier, and the vocals fill most of the space. There's a lot going on here vocally: the singing of Floor, grunts of Sander, the choirs, and also clean vocals of Bas. Ever since he joined the band, After Forever wanted to use his voice... He appears on 3 songs on the album: Between Love And Fire,Two Sides and "Reflections. (...) The dialogues which can be heard on the album are also worth mentioning. It is important to know that they are not taken from any film or a radio-play, but acted out and recorded especially for 'Invisible Circles.'
I guess 'adventurous' is a suitable word to describe this album. It is an original album, with an original concept. "
-- Cursed with Oblivion, xs4all.nl/~cursed
Tracklisting: 01. Enter 02. Come 03. Boundaries are open 04. Living Shields 05. Being Everyone 06. Attendance 07. Free Of Doubt 08. Only Everthing 09. Strong 10. Face Your Demons 11. No Control 12. Forever - SACD Bonustracks: 13. Taste the day 14. Live and learn 15. Strong (piano version) +DVD with the making of Remagine
"Those of After Forevers fans still mourning the move away from their Decipher era will despair completely over new album Remagine. The transition started with the departure of original musical driving force Mark Jansen after the release of Decipher (considered by some to be one of the pinnacles of the gothic symphonic genre) and is extremely evident in this new release, which bares little resemblance to their first two albums. (...) The band have not abandoned their trademark choirs and orchestras, a staple of the After Forever sound, but they are used more sparingly and seem to be more for atmosphere than as a main feature of the album. The choir is used to particularly good effect in album highlight Only Everything. Remagine stays generally up-tempo, packed with fast paced rock tracks, except for ballad Strong, a retro sounding affair thanks to the 80s style synths. Though the album is much more rock than metal, their prog-style is still evident particularly in album closer Forever which is rather reminiscent of Evergreys style, especially as the male vocals bare a striking resemblance to Evergrey vocalist Tom Englund. Very much one of the focal points of After Forever, Floor Jansens impressive voice reaches new heights moving effortlessly between a beautiful operatic soprano and a powerful straight out rock voice, it is her vocals that add an extra dimension - lifting After Forever above many other female fronted rock bands."
-- Kelly Kleiser, metalmonk.co.uk, 9/05
2007: After Forever
Tracklisting: 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
"... What exactly a self-titled album is supposed to signify is unclear. It could hint that this is an album through which the band feels their sound is defined, it could herald a sea-change in their mindset now that they have a new label or it could be that they had no idea what else to call it. Nevertheless, what the sound of this album offers fans is much of the same formula as was presented in 'Remagine', though with more heaviness and solidity. The songs are harder, faster, though not particularly dark since AF have never had that much of a dark edge to them. Its all one part symphonic, one part progressive, one part power - and whether they like it or not - one part Gothic. The Gothic elements this time round are as few as the band could be comfortable including. The choirs, when they do show themselves, sound like Floor pasted upon Floor and though there is something of an operatic shade to her voice in places, this doesnt really rear its head much of the time. Sander has a much bigger part on this album as well, being in a generous number of songs, especially the ultra-heavy De-Energized which almost makes a point of itself in the same way that Nightwishs Slaying The Dreamer did with heavy riffs, thunderous guitars and lots of growling. This is a little different to the stuff that AF have experimented with thus far and there is further evidence of this in Transitory, easily the fastest song on the album, with many pummelling drum beats and carefully placed guitar chugs. The album clearly likes its new harsher approach. It runs away with its own energy and momentum considerably, only stopping for a couple of songs which could be defined as ballads before the distortion comes back in and Floor wobbles all over the place for the choruses. One song which tries to remedy this is the 11-minute Dreamflight, possibly inspired by a visit to the Efteling leisure park in Kaatsheuvel. This is the longest song that AF have attempted and thus has the moniker of prog written all over it. And its a curious thing: slow, fast, slow and fast again, though I have no idea why the band didnt break this down into a couple of numbers since it just doesnt work for me. However, for me the albums biggest problem is the intemperate bashing and battering of some of the other songs which gets too much on constant listening, only making it possible to take one or two tracks at a time rather than the full album at one go."
-- Sam Grant, Sonic Cathedral, 4/07
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