Unfortunately for most bands, good things must come to an end. And in 2009, the symphonic Dutch metal band After Forever split up. The last album that the group released was their self titled effort in 2007. The band was lead by female vocalist Floor Jansen and her high pitched and powerful voice. The album is a mixture of symphonic and gothic tones that have a dark yet beautiful sound to it.
The opening song is called "Discord." This starts with very heavy strings and other orchestrated instruments. Slowly creeping behind them are monstrous distorted guitars that come fading in violently. As the verse starts, guitarist Sander Gommans comes in with low demonic growls. Jansen follows with her angelic vocals as the two go back and fourth. The drumming is upbeat and will have you rocking your head immediately. The chorus comes blaring in very strong as epic strings soar threw the air guiding the vocals through the deafening cymbals and snapping snares. The last verse has some destructive double bass pedaling and detailed drum fills. You're definitely going to want to listen to this track a few more times before moving on to the next track. When you finally do, you will run into "Evoke" which has a very consistent refrain that has catchy lyrics and loud guitars chugging away. Jansen really shows off her reach in pitch as she flies high over the distortion and swoops down low over the calm piano riffs. The song structure is constantly changing leaving you sitting at the edge of your chair not knowing where the music will go next.
"Energize Me" is one of the most memorable songs on the album. The chorus is very catchy and easy to sing along with as you'll find yourself joining right in. The guitars are heavily distorted and the drums are booming. You will also here some interesting synth sounds that give a futuristic effect during certain parts of the song. The electrifying guitar solo towards the end of the track that will shock you with its rapid melodies. The only issue with this song is that it only runs for about three minutes. Hitting the repeat button will have to do.
Another big song off of the album is "Equally Destructive." The beginning has tons of energy as you are met with vicious guitar riffs and explosive snares and kicks. This also has unique synth sound effects which in this case, help build up the verses. The refrain has Jansen belting gorgeous lyrics as the drums continue to beat you down with the heavy guitar riffs. "Withering Time" follows with chanting vocals layered over one another as symphonic strings pull you into the verse. Jansen delivers operatic vocals in this one. You'll also be hit with Gommans bone crushing growls in between the verses and refrains. The demonic guitar riffs give great imagery to the song as the melodies run along side the devilish grunts. This song definitely has that Nightwish feel to it. "De-Energized" is similar in the beginning with its orchestrated instruments. It sounds like part of the score from the movie "Lord Of The Rings." the verse kick in with relentless growling filled with anger and evil. The kick and snare pound away as a wall of guitar riffs fall on you. There is an awesome guitar solo later in the song as it is accompanied by a groovy bass line and more detailed drum rolls.
Things slow down with "Cry With A Smile" beautiful strings and calm guitar riffs during the verses. Jansens vocals will hypnotize you as you fall deeper into the track. Blaring guitar riffs follow later during the refrain. The strings gently carry her voice higher and higher with each note. The piano catches you at the end as the rest of the instruments drop.
Towards the end of the album you will come across a beautiful masterpiece, entitled "Dreamflight." The song runs for over 11 minutes long with an interesting story to tell. Definitely check out the lyrics to this one. You'll find clean vocals not only from Jansen but also guitarist Bas Maas. Together they create an angelic sound. Of course there is also some wicked growling that follow later in the song. The mood of this track constantly changes from happy to sad and light to dark leaving a mixture of incredible tones and melodies.
Even though the band is no longer together, "After Forever" is still an amazing album both musically and lyrically and will always stay in my library of metal albums. For those of you unfamiliar, definitely take the time to listen to this album and check out the bands earlier work as well. As far as some of the band members go, Jansen has a new band called Revamp and Gommans started a project called HDK. It would be awesome if After Forever got back together though!
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/afterforever