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After Forever - Invisible Circles CD (album) cover

INVISIBLE CIRCLES

After Forever

 

Progressive Metal

3.35 | 32 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Jshutt64
4 stars Invisible Circles is a critical turning point for a band like After Forever. After the departure of main songwriter and lyricist Mark Jansen (who went on to found Epica), the future was definitely in question for the band. However, with Invisible Circles, After Forever proves that they are complely capable without Jansen, and actually know a thing or two about progressive metal.

Invisible Circles is a prog metal album; vastly different from their previous two releases which were more of the gothic metal feel. It is a concept album, telling the story of a girl who is born into a family who barely even acknowledge her presence, much less show her love. The girl progresses and ages keeping her inner torment and agony bottled in, and in the end, realizes that even though life is unfair, one has to move on and make the best of it.

Frontlady Floor Jansen does a magnificent job throughout the album. Her voice has gotten stronger and stronger from every album that's she done. On Invisible Circles, she showcases more of her rock voice on several tracks instead of her classical voice, which was the domineering force in After Forever's first two albums. While fans of classically trained vocalists might scoff at this rather unorthodox thing for After Forever, it works really well with feel of the compilation and makes it much more accessible, so to speak.

That's another great thing about this album. You can relate! With Mark Jansen's lyrics, you had to keep your dictionary by you at all times to even understand half of what he was trying to tell you. However, now with Floor completely on lyric duty, you can actually follow the story and enjoy it for what it is. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Mark's lyrics...but this is a huge breath of fresh air.

On to the instrumentation. It's simply fantastic, the best After Forever has done so far. This, in my opinoin, is what makes this album truly progressive. While the individual parts themselves are not that technical, it all blends together to create and contrast between sadness, hate, submission, and realization. It is one of those albums where the music tells the story well enough as it is. Not to mention, you get your occasional time change and constant shifts between loud and soft, everything complimenting the story, each making for a truly progressive album.

Notable song mentions:

The first real track on the album is a song called Beautiful Emptiness. It's one of my favorite songs found here, and features Floor singing the part of the tormented, lamentful girl and Sander Gommans (After Forever's male growler, who does a great job) singing the part of the same girl, but rather in a frantic rage. Great opener for the album.

Between Love And Fire. Great song, has alot of different movements to it, and is the most fantastic lyrically of all the songs. Features Floor, Sander, and Bas Maas (AF's guitarist/sometime singer) on vocals. The best song on the album.

Blind Pain. This is essentially a Sander solo piece, with Floor only showing up occasionally, but it is still fantastic. It has alot of alternating time signatures, from 4/4 to 2/4 to 4/4 to 7/4 and then back to 4/4. Good lyrics, and the most technical song of the album...fantastic drum and guitar work.

The cons:

This album is damn good, but not perfect. The biggest turn-off on the whole CD is the lyrics on some tracks. On some songs, the lyrics are just downright lame. I understand that the album is meant to be from the perspective of a little girl, but come on Floor. Why do they have to be so mean?, she sings on the song Eccentric. Give me a break. Another negative is the voice acting. Throughout the album, there are a couple cutscenes that feature the mother and father having a conversation, usually fighting. The female actor is bad, but that's nothing compared to the male actor. He's atrocious. It all seems so incredibly fake, that it almost ruins every song that they talk in. Couldn't After Forever have found someone a little more professional to do the acting? Apparently not.

Despite these minor flaws, Invisible Circles is a a huge change of direction for After Forever, but good nonetheless. It is a much buy for people who love progressive metal as well as symphonic metal and don't mind a simpler themed concept album.

Personal rating: 4.2

Jshutt64 | 4/5 |

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