Released: 2004, Transmission Records/The End Records
I bought this album out of sheer curiosity as I loved Floor Jansen’s performance on Star One’s live DVD. On that DVD she seemed charismatic and had a beautiful voice. If it wasn’t for that performance I probably never would have checked out After Forever... and I kind of wish I hadn’t now.
After Forever play a heavier version of Nightwish’s brand of power/goth metal, utilizing the same operatic hints as well as male/female vocal trade offs with the female vocals being of the semi-operatic kind. The male vocals on the album go from a clean, and fairly weak, voice to a death metal growl... unfortunately it is an extremely mediocre and character less growl. Many of the trade offs are very typical as well, you can tell exactly when things are going to change and it really doesn’t keep things all that well balanced or create an interesting dynamic when they’re so predictable.
On Invisible Circles the band creates what could have been a very powerful and moving concept album about a child who was never wanted by her parents and must take their constant mental abuse. Unfortunately this idea has been a major part of just about 90% of the concept albums ever made, which leaves this one feeling rather stale, especially when much of the story is told in the booklet and not through the lyrics.
My main complaint about After Forever is Floor Jansen, the very thing I bought this album for. She performs well and when listening to this album I definitely can’t say she isn’t talented, but I’m not feeling anything outside of that. Nothing really stands out, I rarely feel the passion and I definitely don’t hear anything that grabs my ear. When Floor just “goes for it” that’s when she really shines but at the same time the better aspects of After Forever’s sound are when they are slow and soft which creates a terrible dynamic because Floor really can’t go for it on the softer areas. Many of the riffs sound generic and done before, definitely nothing that deserves a second listen.
“Beautiful Emptiness” does have some good points in the beginning, before the growls come in and completely ruin the song for me. Just cause it gets “heavy” doesn’t mean there has to be growling and considering this album seems to go in the heavier direction of the band’s sound quite often, the growls keep coming back . The mid-paced heaviness in “Between Love and Fire”, the bouncing guitar riff, actually helps in creating an ideal piece where both Floor and her counterpart can weave their respective voices around the song and it comes out a success in all areas. This piece gives the band a little glimmer of hope for me before sliding back into mediocrity for “Sins of Idealism” and the rest of the album. Rarely coming up for air aside from a chorus here or there. Another general complaint I have about the album is the spoken word pieces during and in-between a few songs, it’s just not all that good and some of them are far too long so usually if I haven’t hit the skip button by that point I’m reaching for it now.
Unfortunately After Forever really don’t do it for me on this release, I’ve heard that there was a change of guitarists prior to this release so I may have to check out the prior albums to see if maybe they had things a bit more together than on INVISIBLE CIRCLES.