After Forever - Exordium
Transmission Records
Dark Symphonic Progressive Metal
6 songs (26'41")
Release year: 2003
After Forever, Transmission Records
Reviewed by Alex

I needed to review this MCD by After Forever for two reasons. One, after my review of the latest album Invisible Circles fans have been asking whether it is a full-length or MCD. Here is the answer, Invisible Circles is a full-length that came out in April 2004, and Exordium is a stopover MCD that came out in March 2004 in the US (promo sheet says), but probably earlier in Europe (back of the CD says). Don’t ask me why such a narrow spacing between the two releases, but no tracks on Exordium overlap with the tracks on Invisible Circles which is a concept album, so the value is there. Another reason for this review, to further enhance the package of Exordium MCD it also has a DVD disc included, and the label is doing a nice job promoting the band, asking for Exordium to be reviewed independently of Invisible Circles.

Thus, Exordium technically is a first release after the former leader and songwriter Marc Jansen left the band. The question looms large: will After Forever make it? Will they be anything the band they used to be? How would Floor, lead singer and Marc’s brother, respond? Here is the question I don’t have the answer to: I have no idea why Marc left in the first place, but, rest assured, After Forever will remain strong, judging from this MCD quality and Invisible Circles all together.

Line of Thoughts opener is not a quick intro always prefacing former After Forever albums. Instead, it is a full-blown instrumental which holds its own. Dark melodic music with acoustic guitar and violin transitions into a Beethoven influenced symphonic piece which also contains some riffs suitable for headbanging. How is that for a start? The instrumental leads directly into the second track Beneath which is a glimpse of how After Forever evolved. Having remained symphonic and operatic, the gothic edge is replaced by a dark progressive slant to their music, so evident on Invisible Circles. Floor Jansen is in top form, and her singing has expanded from operatic soprano only to include other, more metal, edgier style. The lyrics fit the music. Darker musical tones support words full of social commentary, as the song is dedicated to a memory of a teenager shooting in Netherlands. To further emphasize Floor’s capabilities My Choices track showcases her front and center. This song is also turned into a videoclip on the enclosed DVD. A cool song that contains incredible female voice modulations, it is somewhat popish, and therefore does not grab me completely. Glorifying Means guarantees that After Forever remember their roots. Mid-Eastern guitar melodies, brutal vocals by guitarist Sander Gommans blending perfectly with Floor’s soprano, backup choruses and orchestral arrangements – the song has it all, combined with fast tempo and solid drumming/guitar work that don’t really yield to softer elements.

These songs conclude the After Forever composed tracks, but the MCD also has two covers on it. One, The Evil That Men Do, by Iron Maiden is excellent. Good choice of the song to cover, yet After Forever definitely gives the song its own flavor. Galloping trademark riffs, properly placed solo, bass guitar interplay – the band knows where and how to pay homage to the Masters. Floor does awesome in the upper register with the same amount of power as Bruce, but she can’t possibly match him in the lower octaves. Still, when she says “circle of fire”, you almost feel Mr. Dickinson as a vocal coach. I am completely unfamiliar with the other track, One Day I’ll Fly Away which was written back in 1980. Maybe this lack of familiarity, or, again, the popish nature of the song, doesn’t turn me on completely. Some straightforward, almost power metal like portions, with double bass drumming by Andre Borgman are pretty cool.

Completing the package with a DVD Insights really makes the purchase worthwhile. Along with My Choice video and studio shots of how the clip was recorded, the DVD also contains the live performance of The Evil That Men Do, some studio recordings outtakes (awesome drum solo), slide show and artwork. Just one request for the future. For those, like yours truly, who plead ignorance in Dutch, either ask the band to speak English, or include some subtitles. I definitely understand the band being themselves, making all the jokes in Dutch, but I would love to laugh along, and, therefore, need the subtitle crutch.

Killing Songs :
Beneath, Glorifying Means, The Evil That Men Do
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by After Forever that we have reviewed:
After Forever - After Forever reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
After Forever - Remagine reviewed by Ian and quoted 91 / 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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