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After Forever
After Forever
Type: CD
Company: Nuclear Blast
Release: 2007
Genre: Gothic/Symphonic
Reviewer: Vinaya Saksena
Published: 12/12/2008
Fairly classy entry into the female-fronted symphonic metal
Man, until I read the liner notes to this album, I was going to marvel at how well keyboard synthesizer technology has managed to simulate orchestral sounds. I mean, listen to that uber-grandiose orchestral intro to leadoff cut "Discord"- it sounds so real! So much for that thought, though, because it turns out the orchestral parts on this album are indeed real, contributed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, who sound suitably grand and imposing for this fairly classy entry into the female-fronted symphonic metal contest, thank you very much.

Yes, as I have noted before, this genre has become a bit crowded in the wake of popularity surges for bands such as Nightwish, Lacuna Coil and, on a less purely metal level, Evanescence. However, despite the crowding and despite a lack of any readily apparent singular trait to call their own, After Forever do a pretty good job of distinguishing themselves in this field.
Like Epica, however, After Forever suffer a bit from the unwelcome influence of Cookie Monster, a trait I find quite bothersome, but wonít agonize over at length here (for more on that, see my review of Epicaís The Divine Conspiracy).

Interestingly, this release comes after the departure of guitarist Mark Jansen to that very band, apparently bringing the growly vocal trait to his new band. Here, guitarist Sander Gomman does the dishonors when it comes to growls, although he wisely keeps it to a minimum on this album (personally, I think it should be given an even wider berth in the future), usually leaving the vocal spotlight to the elegantly-voiced Floor Jansen.

Musically, After Forever offer nothing revolutionary in terms of song structure or musical style for the most part, but do what they do with a touch of class. Being a guitarist and fan of fancy but tasteful fretwork, I enjoy the guitar work of Gomman and co-guitarist Bas Maas, though I wish there were more to it--more solos, more intricate riffing, more deviation from the expected basics that come standard issue in this increasingly formulaic genre. On the upside, however, Jansen provides some worthwhile lyrics, combining world-conscious societal commentary and personal reflections, complemented nicely by the orchestral parts and some tasteful keyboard work. "Energize Me" and "Equally Destructive" are, of course, the accessible, hooky, radio-friendly tracks on offer here (although Iím pretty sure most of the conglomerate-owned radio stations in my area would never play this stuff, save for one weekly late-night metal show that still survives here in Rhode Island); a couple of tracks, such as "Envision," get a little bit thrashy in places; and "Cry With a Smile" demonstrates a commendable command of melody and dynamics.

The band has apparently struggled to bounce back following Mark Jansenís departure to Epica. This release, however, shows that better days could be ahead for After Forever if they continue to focus on and hone their strengths.
About this Writer:
Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: AFTER FOREVER
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
After ForeverAfter Forever
2007
Vinaya Saksena12/12/2008
Invisible CirclesAfter Forever
2004
Troy Cole9/10/2004


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