After Forever
After Forever


5.0
classic

Review

by Shattered_Future USER (50 Reviews)
April 20th, 2007 | 32 replies | 9,841 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Taking the best elements from many bands in the gothic metal scene and using them head and shoulders above everyone else, After Forever create not only their best album, but the best album the gothic metal scene has to offer.

8 of 8 thought this review was well written

Genre creating bands are often difficult to judge. Sure, when they’re just debuting or in their prime, people praise them. But what happens in 5 years? 10 years? New and better bands come along and make the innovators seem like pure garbage and erase the memory of what these bands did for the genre.

Helloween is a perfect example. In their heyday, they were credited with creating power metal, and their albums back then showed their originality and brilliance. After a few years, their albums started getting worse and worse, showing the band’s age. Now, Helloween’s music sounds dated, taken over by their younger, better contemporaries.

After Forever, on the other hand, is not such a band.

While one wouldn’t call After Forever one of the originators of gothic metal, you can’t deny the impact they’ve had on the scene. The Dutch group has made a name for themselves with their brand of gothic metal led by the superb vocals of Floor Jansen and backed by a very good band who know their way around their instruments.

However, I don’t think even After Forever were prepared for what they would do next. In 2004, they released Reimagine, which, while still good, was overshadowed by their 2002 opus Invisible Circles. Reimagine focused a bit more on keyboard based lines, and took away the more aggressive edge the band possessed on earlier releases. While it was generally well received, a few people were still disappointed with them.

So After Forever went back into the studio to record what we have here, a self titled album. Unassuming, perhaps, you might be thinking. Self titled albums are uninspired, some may think.

I’m gonna break it down for you, though. This album is the single greatest thing to happen to the gothic metal scene. Period.

Why? This release wasn’t about innovation. It was about taking elements from every part of the scene and doing them miles better than anyone else. After Forever include a full orchestra a la Nightwish, the layering capabilities of Lacuna Coil, growled vocals of most other gothic metal bands, and even some electronica elements much like old school Evanescence. Utilizing all of this, After Forever created the pinnacle of gothic metal that will most likely stand as the best the scene has to offer.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking. It’s true, I do have a tendency to overrate albums on first listen, and then on subsequent listens the flaws are made clear. To make sure I wasn’t overrating this, I listened to it countless times, and this album honestly has no flaws. There is no filler, no bad riffs, none of that overproduction crap. Everything has a purpose, every track was crafted with an obscene attention to detail, and the pacing is perfect.

With the addition of Joost Van Den Broek (what a mouthful) to keyboards a few years ago, the band could only go up with him onboard. While Reimagine showed some of his addition to the band, this release throws the notion of keyboards in metal right out the window and submerses Joost in the center of it. He really gets to cut loose this time with touching piano parts, shredding leads and everything in between. Tracks like Evoke and Empty Memories have a high emphasis on the electronic aspects that Joost can provide for the band. In the case of the latter, After Forever takes an approach much like the one used by The Gathering, albeit more distorted and much heavier.

The rest of the band does their part as well. The bass is prominent, the drums are interesting, guitars are nice and heavy, and soft and quiet when they need to be, and they all play off of each other beautifully. This is another case of an extremely together band, and they’re only made better because of it. The whole band functions as more of a rhythm keeper than a lead instrument. Part of the genius of After Forever, as Det_Nosnip, resident After Forever fanboy, says, is that they integrate their lead lines into the orchestra. It gives the music a much better flow, and allows both sides to be more creative with their respective parts.

Great music would mean squat without a controlling force to front the band. Floor Jansen is yet another reason why After Forever kicks the living crap out of their contemporaries. She has a beautiful voice, but my GOD, it grabs ahold of you and doesn’t let go. The power that she possesses, words cannot describe. Honestly, you just have to listen to it to get a feel of what I’m talking about.

After Forever experimented with string arrangements on their earlier albums (ok, experimented is a bad word. Most gothic metal bands rely on them to make the music interesting). Here, we see them expanding yet again with the addition of the aforementioned full orchestra, which makes their capabilities for songwriting much more creative. Discord, for example, employs great orchestral work in the beginning and throughout, and Dreamflight relies on the orchestra to add that extra layer to what is the longest song of After Forever’s career. Clocking in at an impressive 11:09, and never becoming boring, it’s one of the high points of the album. If the album had high points, mind you. Everything is of the same caliber, and there are really no tracks that are worse than others.

I’m also a sucker for key changes, and once again, After Forever uses them to great effect. Envision contains one at the last chorus (along with an opening riff that was ripped out of Lunatica’s playbook. I don’t mean stylistically either. I mean literally; this song and Elements by Lunatica have almost the exact same orchestra parts), which, again, only helps the song. Energize Me, the band’s first single, also contains a few. Now, when a band releases the most commercial and radiofriendly song as a single, and they STILL manage to make it sound better than 99.9% of the music out there, it’s a mark of greatness.

One of my favorite tracks, Transitory is all about intensity. From the beginning all the way through, the song flies along with an aggressive nature that can’t be tamed. Death growls abound interplay with Floor’s soprano, and Joost really gets to cut loose with some of the best synth leads I’ve heard incorporated into this type of music. De-Energized, another high intensity track, employs a Rammstein-esque stuttering techno effect to parts, except without the crap bits. As lame as this may sound, this song must be what pure hate sounds like. You can feel it just flowing through the song.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the ballad tracks. Cry With A Smile employs the orchestra and Joost’s piano lines masterfully to back up Floor’s vocals. There’s no cheese in this ballad, just beautiful music. Empty Memories takes the minimalist electronic styled approach mentioned earlier and uses it to really show how Floor can carry a song by herself. As such, the track ends up being an extremely sensitive, beautiful piece, complete with haunting, powerful vocals. Definitely a high point of the album, Empty Memories will stir up emotions you thought you never had.

So. In case this review hasn’t told you, this is the pinnacle of gothic metal. All that needs to be said.

Recommended Tracks:
Just get the damn album. They’re all good.



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user ratings (118)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Frederick Metzengerstein (4)
After Forever have released an album of the ages with this inspired piece....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Altmer
April 20th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I only have Decipher by this band, but I liked it. Looks like I need to get this.

ToWhatEnd
April 20th 2007



3172 Comments


LiK oMg you's back! And back with a monster of a review. I shall have to check this out.

Edit: Is this already out in America/is 4/20 the real release date?This Message Edited On 04.20.07

Altmer
April 20th 2007



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probably European date.

Tyler
Emeritus
April 20th 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

http://www.myspace.com/afterforeveronline

Full stream of the album.

ToWhatEnd
April 20th 2007



3172 Comments


Yeah I figured I ought to check their page after reading this review and found that. So far it is definitely good, not a style I usually enjoy but they do it so well it's hard not to.

Tyler
Emeritus
April 20th 2007



7928 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm liking it a lot so far. I've always preferred these peeps to the other female fronted mental acts. Floor Jansen's voice, to me, is much better than her peers. More enjoyable.

Shattered_Future
April 20th 2007



1539 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Floor's definately got one of the best voices in their respective fields. And there's been a giant countdown on their webpage for the past 15 days, so I'll be damned if it's not out already.

Steerpike
April 20th 2007



1857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

(sigh) Goodbye, rest of my money.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
April 20th 2007



3757 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh cool, i had no idea they were releasing a new album. Sounds brilliant though - I wasn't too happy with the direction they were taking on the last one.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

scpttrerulz
April 21st 2007



130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

These guys are amazing. When I first heard Reimagine I was impressed. Then I heard Invisible Circles and I fell in love with this band. Looking very much forward to getting this...
Good review. Joost and Jansen both are absolutely mindblowing. Joost's ability to make the synth function like a lead guitar.. throughout the song is genius and Jansen undoubtedly has the most versatile voice in the genre ... powerful, operatic and soft.. all of them pulled off with equal ease.

benlloninho
April 27th 2007



3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I gotta say I was very impressed by this album - it's very good though it does lose a little steam towards the end. I liked Decipher but this album is a little better for me.

FR33L0RD
May 4th 2007



1461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

very interesting Metal
beautiful female voice
=============
Excellent reviewThis Message Edited On 05.04.07

kalkal50
May 5th 2007



2386 Comments


I've got to be honest, this is a great album.

Steerpike
July 10th 2007



1857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Finally got to listen to the whole album. My god... it fucking rules!

Shattered_Future
July 11th 2007



1539 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It really does. I'm still listening to it and finding new things that I didn't notice before.

BallsToTheWall
October 5th 2007



44164 Comments


So, I guess this would be a good album to get by After Forever. I was thinking of Invisible Circles and now this might overtake it.

Crimson
October 5th 2007



1935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I. Need. This.

BallsToTheWall
October 26th 2007



44164 Comments


What would you reccomend for the first album to get from them. I have been intriqued but havent heard much from them.


Bought this today, and love this album. through 2 listens.This Message Edited On 10.27.07

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
October 26th 2007



3757 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This or Invisible Circles.

Remembrance
November 9th 2007



45 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hmm perhaps people will now not only think of within temptation when they think of dutch music...

Although i fear the worst



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