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After Forever
Exordium
June 2004
Released: 2004, The End Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Released in October 2003 on Transmission Records, this MCD was released in North America on March 23rd 2004 through The End Records. Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve heard an album from the Holland-based band After Forever. I never bothered to look into the band because what I had read about them being a goth metal band had turned me away. I should have never paid attention to that unjust categorization. After Forever sound like a melodic metal band that have influences from power metal, neo-classical music, and touches of progressive elements. Stylistically, a band that has a fair bit in common with After Forever is Nightwish. This is in part due to the powerful female vocalist Floor Jansen. Beyond the soaring vocals, the music is in the same ball park as Nighwish but does not rip them off at all!



This MCD is meant as an introduction to the band’s new concept album INVISIBLE CIRCLES (2004). The opening song on EXORDIUM is the instrumental “Line of Thoughts”. Unlike some album intros which are pointless add-ons that you skip over, this one is excellent and caught my interest right from the first play. It serves as the intro for “Beneath” which starts out in mellow territory with clean guitars, keys, orchestration being dominant with Floors beautiful voice over the top. The metal riffing comes in shortly and is overlain with some very nice vocal melodies and orchestrations. The breakdown around 3mins in with the triplets and short harmony lines sound very cool. “My Choice” is the ballad of the MCD. Some more operatic vocals emerge in this one which is backed by clean guitars and orchestration. The distorted guitars come in during the chorus. At 3:10 a very cool choir section takes over…perhaps this is what people refer to as the gothic element? Either way, it fits in here brilliantly. “Glorifying Means” starts out with a riff that sound like Nighwish…but when the song picks up with faster double kicking we get some death/black metal vocals that actually fit in here. The vocals then trade off between the grunts and the singing. I’m glad they don’t do this on all songs and that it’s Floor’s vocals that drive the band. However it is a side of the band worth keeping for some sections. This song also has the choir for a portion adding to the songs diversity.



Up until this point on the MCD all the After Forever material has yet to have a guitar solo in the traditional sense and that is very unfortunate for someone with my tastes. There are what I’d call “break downs” in the songs where the guitar melody line takes over and play some interesting harmonies…but it really needed some ripping at least somewhere in there. The next part of the CD is 2 cover songs. The first is from perhaps the most covered band in heavy metal (along with Black Sabbath), Iron Maiden. The song they cover is not one of the common ones like “Nuber of the Beast” or “Wrathchild” but is the songs “The Evil That Men Do” from the SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON album. This is an excellent cover with the guitar parts and leads played excellently. The vocals are done very well which is no small feat when you are singing in the shadow of one of metal’s greatest vocalists. The other cover is an 80’s pop ballad song from the female artist Randy Crawford. Obviously I’ve never heard the original version but their cover has been totally reworked into the After Forever sound.



EXORDIUM also ships with a short DVD labeled as “Insights”. The best thing about the DVD is the video for “My Choice”. Seeing some of the band’s studio recording moments was also cool and could have been much longer. The only downside for me is that all spoken parts on here are in Dutch and I don’t understand a word of it!



EXORDIUM has made a great impression on me and I’ll be tracking down the band’s new album INVISIBLE CIRCLES which is out in Europe now. If like me you previously passed on this band because you thought they were all about goth nonsense, forget what you’ve been told. The foundation of After Forever is metal. Fans of Nighwish and other melodic metal bands will no doubt love this.
Track Listing

CD:
1. Line of Thoughts (instrumental)
2. Beneath
3. My Choice
4. Glorifying Means
5. The Evil That Men Do (Iron Maiden cover)
6. One Day I'll Fly Away (Randy Crawford cover)

DVD:
1. My Choice (video)
2. Making of… My Choice
3. Studio Recordings
4. Slide Show
5. Artwork

Lineup

Floor Jansen - Soprano vocals
Sander Gommans – Guitar, solo, grunts
Bas Maas – Guitars, solo
Lando van Gils – Synths
Luuk van Gerven – bass
Andre Borgman – Drums, acoustic guitars


Next review: » After Forever - Exordium
Previous review: » After Forever - Decipher

After Forever
Exordium
July 2004
Released: 2003, Transmission
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

There are times, and it is rare, when quality of the entire package helps boost the band credibility. What I mean is that upon finally getting a chance to hear After Forever I was disappointed. Frankly, I feel they are over-rated. It is an extremely competitive sub-genre and they are an average band to my ears. There are so many bands of this style it is hard to stand out. My gut reaction was a 2.5 out of 5. However, this is a pretty damn impressive package and so accordingly, praise is where praise is deserved, they get a better grade.



This MCD has a couple of cover tunes, one by a guy called Randy Crawford. I’ve never heard of him before. Their version of the Maiden tune is very well done, better than a straight copy and cool to hear it delivered with a female voice.



This introductory EP comes with a long essay, gorgeous layout and design, great photos, lyrics, credits and a bonus DVD, This is the way all MCD’s should be done! This is a good way to introduce the band to new fans, an excellent visual and audio representation of what they offer.



What they do offer musically is progressive-tinged, gothic tinged, melodic metal. It’s not really heavy or fast not is it too gloomy or dark. It is as if they are struggling to find that sweet spot. Not as poppy as Lullacry, not as symphonic as Nightwish, not as dark as Lacuna Coil.. After Forever seem to sit in no-mans land. Does mean they are inferior? Not at all! The quality is top-notch…great production, performances, decent and innovative lyrics...everything is in place. My hesitation must stem from the song-writing because upon sober reflection this MCD is flawless in many respects, but it doesn’t grab me. This is a strong sign that I need to hear more of the band to fully analyze their musical qualities. I might recommend trying one of the bands full-length CD’s first. Yes EXORDIUM gives a good overview of their styles, (a ballad, a fast one, a progressive one, an instrumental and two cover tunes) but it seems to be moreof a collectors piece for long-time fans.
Track Listing

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.

DVD

1. My Choice (video)
2. Making of My Choice
3. Studio recordings
4. Slide show
Artwork

Lineup

Floor Jansen-vocals
Sander Gommans-guitar
Bas Maas-guitar
Luuk Van Gerven-Bass
Lando Van Gils-Keyboards
Andre Borgman-Drums, acoustic guitar

Contact

N/A


Next review: » After Forever - Invisible Circles
Previous review: » After Forever - Decipher





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