After Forever - Prison Of Desire

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Transmission Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

Having briefly delved into this peculiar style of what we call "Beauty & the Beast" metal, I believe I have found my Karma amongst the many bands out there who are starting to provide a good push for this genre. In short, the style is aptly named because of the dual vocalists that the bands front, one usually being an operatic female with beautiful cords, and the other a death growler / screamer that complements the softness of the female voice. The differences between the singers in other bands usually lie in the aggressiveness, style, and input of the growling male singer. He can be heard either way up front in the mix as a lead, sharing the mix to complement the female, or sparingly placed back in the mix as an atmosphere rather than a focal point. In my case, I prefer the growler to be placed back in the mix as an atmosphere, especially when the female vocalist has a superb voice, and I prefer that the female voice be left to carry the music as the male complements and preserves the aggression of the music. Speaking of the music, this particular style usually consists of beautifully layered symphonic, gothic, crunching guitar driven metal. I believe that its this sound that appeals to and attracts the listener first, and then the vocals make the deciding difference depending on their particular taste.

In the case of After Forever, the band has injected its entire sound with just about every ingredient that anyone could possibly want in this type of music. Starting with the music, it's a nicely arranged disc filled with twin crunching guitars, beautiful / lush, atmospheric synths, laced with faster paced song structures than are normally found in this type of music. The female vocalist, Floor Jansen, is among the best in this genre. I have not found any "bad" sounding female singers in the many bands that I've heard in this style. I have heard many singers who "chant" their lyrics, whom I've deemed "enchantresses". I consider Floor Jansen to be one of the best in the genre, if not the best I've heard so far. Her operatic style, beauty and range far exceed most of the singers out there and I feel that her emotional injections into the music put her just one step ahead of the rest of the pack. She sounds like she has had some voice training as well, especially when it comes to her higher, operatic range which she uses quite well. Sharon Den Adel of Within Temptation provides a guest appearance on this disc as well, the other female singer who I coincidentally consider to be among the elite in the genre. The guitars are nicely layered, thick and crunchy. They have an aggressive edge to them as well, giving them an almost Ayreon-like sound, especially considering that the band is signed to Transmission Records, home of the great Ayreon as well, and mixed by Oscar Holleman, also a god of the great Ayreon sound recordings.

Speaking of productions, this is one of the best sounding discs I've heard in the genre. Usually, there are some sacrifices to be made in the sound dept for a lot of these bands, but After Forever have found a niche in the sound barrier and decided to go all out and make their disc sound just a bit more special than the rest of the pack. Of note, the vocals are extremely well placed considering whats going on musically. Floor can be heard at all levels of power, from the soft, clean plush moments to the wailing, heavier sides of the music as well. The male singer is placed a bit back in the mix, to provide atmosphere rather than focal point. Choirs are used heavily and wonderfully, providing a full, rich, eerie sound to the music. The bass is full and deep and can be easily heard amidst the twin guitars. The drums are just about perfectly recorded and have a "real" drum sound to them rather than some of the tinnier sounds that plague bands of this style. Much of the appeal of this disc comes from the great sound achieved, which in my opinion shows attention to detail on the part of the band to cover every aspect of the recording, which they have done superbly.

Overall, this is easily some of the best "Beauty & the Beast" metal on the circuit today. Its an absolute must purchase for all fans of this style, and for anyone who wants to know what this style of music is all about, After Forever is the definitive place to start. Its also one of the most diverse sounding discs in this style as well and should appeal to many of the progressive metal fans as well as metal fans.

Mea Culpa / Leaden Legacy / Semblance Of Confusion / Black Tomb / Follow In The Cry / Silence From Afar / Inimical Chimera / Tortuous Threnody / Yield To Temptation / Ephemeral / Beyond Me

Floor Jansen - vocals
Mark Jansen - guitars, screams
Sander Grommans - guitars, grunts
Jack Driessen - synths
Luuk van Gerven - bass
Joep Beckers - drums

Ephemeral (1999)
Wings Of Illusion (1999, demo)
Prison Of Desire (2000)
Follow In The Cry (2000) (CD single)
Decipher (2001)
Emphasis (2001) (CD single)
Monolith Of Doubt (2002) (CD single)
Exordium (2003, EP)
My Choice (2003) (CD single)
Invisible Circles (2004)

Genre: Progressive/Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: August 1st 2000
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 1348
Language: english


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