After Forever
Decipher


4.5
superb

Review

by Shattered_Future USER (50 Reviews)
November 23rd, 2005 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


Many people have heard of goth metal before. For quite a few, the word "goth" conjures images of people you've seen at the mall: large pants with an obscene amount of chains and straps, more makeup than Richard Simmons at a gay bar, and a generally depressing attitude. However, goth also describes a style of music: very symphonic, an emphasis on epicness and more opera styled vocals. There are tons of countless knockoff bands that claim to be "goth", but only a few can claim the style as their own.

Here's where After Forever comes in. A goth/symphonic metal band from the Netherlands, they were one of the best of female fronted goth metal. Even from a very young age, the band showed their talents as songwriters. Their music was epic, and worthy of being played by bands twice their age. From their debut in 2000 all the way up to today, the band has showed no signs of slowing down and continue to release album after album, each as good (if not better) than the last.

Decipher

Released: 2001 on Transmission Records

Members (at the time of this release):
Floor Jansen - Soprano vocals
Sander Gommans - Guitars, death vocals
Mark Jansen - Guitars, death vocals
Andre Borgman - Drums, acoustic guitar
Luuk van Gerven - Bass
Lando van Gils - Keyboards

Decipher, simply put, is an amazing album. Considering the average age of the band members was 19 when it was recorded/released, it was almost unheard of. The band showed their promise as songwriters, and it paid off on this album. With an epic quality found in only a select few, the album radiated originality.

The undoubted best part of the band is the superb vocals laid down by Floor Jansen. Yes, she is a soprano, like many other female fronted bands. However, few can convey emotion as well as Floor. Her voice is haunting. It will stay in your head forever and refuse to get out. Unlike some singers, who are all about being pretty and not delivering much impact, Floor can do both. Her voice is one of the prettiest voices I've ever heard, and it grips you as much as some of the most powerful singers can do. Also noteworthy is that she can sing in different styles. She can go from more traditional vocals straight into operatic and back again without missing a beat. That, my friends, is truly the sign of a great singer.

Floor is backed up by a superb backing band as well. On this release especially, the group excels. Pounding double bass and heavy guitars galore, they create a powerful sound that perfectly complements Floor. And if the music needs to slow down? They can do that as well. Once again, considering the band's age, it is remarkable that they were able to write an album as good as this.

Decipher was the group's sophomore release. It possessed an edge not found in many of their peer's albums. The band was out to prove that no matter how old you are, you can still write mindblowing music. They completely hit it on the head. With absolutely phenomonal vocals and the perfect music to back it up, the album is quite close to sheer perfection.

Along with the normal band members, they recorded with an orchestra as well, to give their music that other edge. Some bands seem to rely on an orchestra just to make their music seem better and more complex than it actually is (read: Dimmu Borgir's Death Cult Armageddon); however, After Forever makes it work in a way that makes you just stop and take it all in. It makes the music absolutely beautiful to listen to.

Interestingly enough, the group also uses male vocals in a few parts as well. Pretty standard metal styled vocals; they don't really add, but don't take away either. This seems to be a growing standard in goth metal today.

Even though the instrumentation may seem minimalist, it truly isn't. There aren't crazy shred solos in this type of music. Per usual of a goth metal band, all the instruments are focused on creating an atmosphere that draws you in. Too many bands to count try and fail at this, leaving their music boring, bland, and generic. Not After Forever. They craft beautiful chord melodies, a few harmonized parts here and there, and back it all up with keyboards and superb drumming. Truly worth a listen.

A few recommended tracks, if you wish. However, the album is much better viewed as a whole...it gives you a much deeper sense of knowing.

Estranged - My personal favorite on the album, it is everything After Forever is known for. Atmospheric music, great instrumentation, and some of the best vocals in the genre. Floor turns in an absolutely crushing part on this song, probably the best on the album.

My Pledge Of Allegiance (1 and 2) - 2 songs that go hand in hand. Usual After Forever styled tracks...great drums especially on 2.

Forlorn Hope - The album's closer. From the intro forwards, you'll know it will be a trip. A haunting intro that almost conveys the impending end, and great vocals from Floor.

Overall: 9.5/10. Albums don't get much better than this.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
King_Of_Terrors
November 23rd 2005


52 Comments


Good review, I will have to check them out. I am always interested in Goth bands. The female vocals sound cool too.

ocelot-05
November 23rd 2005


807 Comments


Very pressing review. I have never heard of After Forever, but they sound interesting. I'll vote.

Cravinov13
November 23rd 2005


3854 Comments


Not a bad review. I heard a song from these guys, but I don't think it was from this album, but then again I don't remember the name.

Dancin' Man
November 23rd 2005


719 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I am not a big fan. I think it sounds cheesy. I didn't realize they were so young.

Shattered_Future
November 23rd 2005


1540 Comments


Eh, you kinda have to get used to it at first...

It grows on you, it just needs time.

Iai
Emeritus
November 23rd 2005


3553 Comments


How does it compare to Invisible Circles?

Dancin' Man
November 24th 2005


719 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Heh... tkaes time. I first started listening to this band a year ago with Invisible Circles. I've had time and I just don't like them that much. I've only heard one song off this album but am not inspired to get the rest because it wasn't far enough from IC.This Message Edited On 11.24.05

Shattered_Future
November 24th 2005


1540 Comments


Iai, I'm not sure yet...just got IC yesterday. Still have to listen to it.

I'm assuming it's a lot better, given the different reviews on Amazon.com. I could
be wrong though.

Eh, different tastes, I guess (aimed at Fast Fingers).This Message Edited On 11.24.05

Iai
Emeritus
November 24th 2005


3553 Comments


I like Invisible Circles a lot.

Shattered_Future
November 24th 2005


1540 Comments


Well, you could always attempt to get this album through "alternate" means to purchasing, and see how they stack up.

Still, though, considering how young the band is, this was a pretty impressive feat.

Iai
Emeritus
November 24th 2005


3553 Comments


I'm a student. I have no choice but to get everything through "alternate means".

Shattered_Future
November 25th 2005


1540 Comments


Heh, don't we all...I'm like that too.

I think IC edges this album out a little bit, but not by much. Still a great listen.

Det_Nosnip
November 15th 2006


374 Comments


*chimes in as official AF fanboy of MX* Hmm, old review, but worth dragging up I suppose.

I would consider Decipher to be about on the level of Invisible Circles, but for completely different reasons...I'm constantly wavering between the two. Invisible Circles is incredible as a concept album, but for me at least, there are songs on Decipher that stand alone better. The aforementioned Pledge of Allegiance series are good examples; I personally am especially keen on "Emphasis" and the classic "Monolith of Doubt," which was what basically put the band on the spotlight.

What I really enjoy about the Decipher album is what many people will often dislike: the fact that the string orchestra is given equal treatment and preference to the electric guitars. This contrasts to the common guitar-driven style with orchestral "atmosphere" or backing; in many cases, the strings dominate the songs and guitars are used more for their aggressive attack and as part of the rhythm section. In my opinion, this gave AF a really unique sound that was much more to my liking. By voicing alot of the leads and melodies into the strings, the band is able to make these melodies really come alive. The addition of Floor's operatic vocals made After Forever truly straddle the lines between Romantic and heavy metal music on this release, begging the question of where that line can be drawn, if there truly deserves to be one, and emphasizing heavy metal's classical roots in a way that Yngwie or even Romeo could never quite capture.

Lenore
December 30th 2006


3 Comments


This is After Forever's best album.
Nice job!

Altmer
March 9th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a good album and I should edit my rating to reflect that.

Shattered_Future
March 9th 2007


1540 Comments


Wow, talk about an old review. I think I like Invisible Circles a bit more than this one, but there's still some tracks on here that outstrip a lot of stuff they, and the whole scene, have done.

benlloninho
April 25th 2007


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They were 19 when they did this?

Holyshitfuck.

gutturalmaster
February 9th 2011


170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very good Gothic metal album; this is probably one of the better goth metal bands out there. The combination of female vocals and death/guttural vocals are very well written; songwriting is also very good...technical but not over technical.

Nimboc
March 5th 2011


77 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The best album of After Forever.

Devotedzak2
February 27th 2012


26 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Is it just me or is the guitar playing on this album very unimaginative? Floor's voice is one of the best in music however.



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