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After Forever - Decipher CD (album) cover


After Forever

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5 stars This album is in my opinion one of the defining masterpieces of gothic metal. This album is more of a modern fast paced gothic style, while their debut was in more of a slower old-school gothic style, although they both strongly feature symphonic elements. This album is less atmospheric and more progressive than the first one. Although this is a more modern gothic metal album, it has none of the trappings that are in the radio-friendly gothic metal albums from the likes of evanescence (ick!) or epica. Speaking of epica, this album features their guitarist, Mark Jansen. If you dislike (early) epica for the way they fetishize corny clichés, then have no fear, because in this band, the other members balance out his terrible ideas, only leaving his best ideas, and Mark Jansen at his best is quite noteworthy, as fans of epica would agree. It is his influence that makes this album gothic, and after he left the band completely shed the gothic sound and switched over to a style that mixes retro industrial with modern symphonic metal. This album is very fast paced for a gothic album, and summons an intensity that is unmatched in the gothic genre. Especially this can be seen in the first song (not counting the intro), Monolith of Doubt. It comes in fast with a rhythmic guitar riff, and layered on with an ascending keyboards riff that is both proud and urgent, and then there is a quick stop, and boom, female vocals like you’ve never heard them before; loud, clear, intense, and powerful, proud and sad, in a sort of aggressive melancholy. The song goes on, with more fast riffs, a sudden veer into clean arpeggios, with a sort of dramatic tension building, and then a burst back into metal, with the singer topping the wave of tension with a high note sung forcefully as an opera singer does, climaxing the song before it winds down on the first riff. This song is a bit faster than the rest of the album, but it adequately conveys what this album is about. It is proud yet melancholy, passionate yet sensitive, bombastic yet subtle. This album is the perfection of the symphonic goth subgenre, and while I’m sure someday another band may reach a different sort of pinnacle within this genre (and there are non-symphonic goth metal albums I rank up with this one), this will stand at the top of its own style. Nobody will beat this album at its own game (you hear that epica?) While this album works as a whole so well that it really doesn’t make sense to pick out individual parts, one part that particularly warrants attention is that of the lead vocalist, Floor Jansen (not related to Mark). Although on this album she is still finding her voice, she shines on this album much more than on the debut. Although many female metal vocalists have pretty voices, and maybe even have better voices by classical standards, she stands out for singing with strength. In other words, her voice is far more fitted to metal then the Simone’s, Tarja’s and Sharon den Adel’s of our current symphonic metal. Also worth mentioning are the drums, which feature some very creative cymbal work. The drums are a good lesson for other goth metal bands, where it often feels like the drummer is just a time keeper with no personality at all.
Report this review (#200622)
Posted Sunday, January 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars You wouldn't think that a faceless band like After Forever would deem it necessary to continue making records after the unnecessary debut, but their kind of gothic opera metal was a very popular style around 2000 and you know, even musicians need some food on the table.

The formula is similar to the debut but the execution is a lot better. The annoying male grunts are pushed further back in the mix and they hired a real drummer to kick some life into their operatic metal. Generally the playing is tight and to the point, nothing exceptional but functional enough to support the songs.

The bigger reliance on Nightwish and Therion pomposity has replaced their Gathering leanings. While that doesn't really sound like a good idea, the result is actually better then the debut. I'd even say this is a decent album in this style of music and I tend to give it an occasional spin when I'm giving the vacuum cleaner a ride around the house.

From what I've heard the quality of the ensuing albums went down again after this one so if you want to check them out, I'd recommend you to give this a spin, especially if you're into the bands I've thrown at you here. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#255711)
Posted Saturday, December 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars If the first album, the compositions were in the hands of "Mark Jansen" and "Floor Jansen", now we can say that the band composed the album. "Decipher" ripening shows generally the band. "Andre Borgman" in place of "Joep Beckers", "Lando van Gils" in place of "Jack Driessen". Following the example of the first album, everything starts with an introduction in Latin... Lack of creativity? keep listening ... After "Ex cathedra", is probably the track most "marketed" the band on this album... "Monolith of Doubt". "Floor Jansen" improve their techniques as well as "Mark Jansen" and "Sander Gommans". The tuning of the band seems to be at the peak. Point for the additional musicians with wonderful orchestrations. "My Pledge of Allegiance - The Sealed Fate" and "My Pledge of Allegiance #2 - The Tempted Fate" are continuous. "Emphasis" and "The Key" are the weakest album in my opinion although "Emphasis" has given name to a band's EP ... "Intrinsic" and "Zenith" would be the beautiful and the beast? The smoothness of a closed aggressiveness of the other .. Magnificent. "Estranged (A Timeless Spell)" is another well-crafted song with rhythmic variations, full creativity for this group at its best training, launching this unfortunately only album together ... Forgive me, "Floor Jansen", but here who rules is "Rein Kolpa" , tenor vocals on "Imperfect Tenses". "Forlorn Hope" is speechless... "One of the stanzas of the poem it is part of a historic speech by former Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin - murdered in 1995 by an Orthodox Jew - pronounced just at the Nobel Peace Prize, which was won in 1994, and ends with two words: "Shalom" ("peace" in Hebrew) and "Salaam" ("peace" in Arabic)". Curiosity: "A forlorn hope is a band of soldiers or other combatants chosen to take the leading part in a military operation, such as an assault on a defended position, where the risk of casualties is high. The term comes from the Dutch verloren hoop, literally "lost heap", and adapted as "lost troop". The old Dutch word hoop (in its sense of heap in English) is not cognate with English hope: this is an example of false folk etymology. In present-day Dutch the expresion 'verloren hoop' could both mean "lost hope" as well as "a lost (useless or lonely) heap, pile, muck or mass".
Report this review (#759182)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2012 | Review Permalink

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