After Forever - After Forever
Nuclear Blast
Gothic/Symphonic Metal
12 songs (57:51)
Release year: 2007
After Forever, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

For whatever reason I missed After Forever when I first discovered Gothic Metal and splurged out on the likes of Lacuna Coil, Nightwish and Tristania, despite the fact that in many ways Floor Jansen is the best female Metal vocalist ever. As capable of operatic trills as of hard rock poppiness, she’s very underrated, and I was quite surprised to see that After Forever’s final album before splitting was languishing unreviewed by these hallowed pages. Arguably the glory days of female-fronted Gothic Metal are over – you couldn’t turn around a couple of years ago without bumping into Nightwish clones – which perhaps accounts for how Floor’s latest release with her new ReVamp project has sunk without trace, only discovering it myself earlier today when researching what the former members were doing now. A pity, but there’s no escaping the fact that the genre was getting a bit crowded, so perhaps a little bloodletting will do it good in the long run.

And that is actually a good way to describe After Forever! The band clearly decided to give it that title as a statement that it contains their signature sound and worked their hands out in the making of this album, something that fans of their first two albums might scowl at. I’ve never seen why Mark Jansen’s subsequent Epica are considered to be superior by some, however, Simone Simons being a capable vocalist yet inferior to Floor, and their songwriting is usually severely lacking, something you could never accuse After Forever of. From the very first moments of this album, with the almost cinematic orchestral opening to Discord and subsequent perfectly balanced Metal, it’s hard not to be hooked. Both Floor and her duelling growler Sander Gommans perform wonderfully, uplifting anthem after uplifting anthem being belted out with excellent backing from the rest of the band, and really there’s little to complain about.

It’s the constant variety which really makes me appreciate this band – no fan of Symphonic Metal could resist the old Nightwishy Evoke, and the subsequent Melodeath-meets-electro-goth Transitory is a real step sideways. After Forever’s biggest skill, in my eyes, is perfectly mixing catchiness and complexity, their Prog influences always present and much helped by the various Ayreon links. Energize Me is a perfect uplifting single, complemented by the later De-Energized’s symphonic glory, and the band’s Gothic Metal past comes to the fore on Withering Time, an intense and crushing song with excellent usage of those harsh vocals work and a lovely melancholic interlude followed by outright thrashing. Even ballad Cry With A Smile is enjoyable, Floor belting her heart out and the band choosing to remain powerful rather than wallow in anything too Eurovision – the subsequent very Metal Envision is a nice step forwards.

If there’s a poorer track present, it’s the stompy Rock riffs of Who I Am, which is a bit like Evanescence if they went overboard on electronic effects and backing symphonic stuff. It’s not actually bad by any stretch of the imagination, but could easily have been left off considering the long album running time, stretched by the eleven-minute Dreamflight, a genuinely proggy orchestral-backed epic that’s simply fantastic and the crowning glory of an excellent album. Although it’s not After Forever’s best, it’s more than good enough to deserve the time of all fans of the style, and was a good farewell from a great band.

Killing Songs :
Discord, Evoke, Energize Me, Withering Time, De-Energized, Dreamflight
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by After Forever that we have reviewed:
After Forever - Remagine reviewed by Ian and quoted 91 / 100
After Forever - Exordium reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
After Forever - Invisible Circles reviewed by Alex and quoted 89 / 100
After Forever - Decipher reviewed by Danny and quoted 95 / 100
After Forever - Prison Of Desire reviewed by Marc and quoted 94 / 100
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