After Forever - Decipher

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Transmission Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 00:00:00

Bands like After Forever don't come around often. More times than not, bands just starting out in the business release a semi-noticed disc, one that gets some sort of attention from a small group of fans, and then either fade off into the distance, release a mediocre sophomore follow-up, or mature and keep on trying to make a statement without really putting a dent into the masses of ears eager for something different or great. In the case of After Forever, their first release Prison Of Desire was incredible from the start. Everything about the disc and the band screamed out greatness - from the incredible artwork, class, production, vocal performance, style, and performance. Dubbed "Beauty & The Beast" music by most familiar with this style, the band has a crunchy dual guitar attack, laced with tons of keyboards, and a very operatic female singer complemented by dual "growlers" or "grunters". The combination works well if done right, and although lots of people have a tough time warming up to this style, there is no doubt that After Forever reached many ears and converted them over to this style of music. The music is warm, melodic, gothic, eerie, haunting and beautifully powerful all at the same time.

It would be difficult for any band to top a debut release like Prison Of Desire given its quality, and Decipher, the newest release, was eagerly awaited by many eager to see how a band could top greatness a second time around.

Suffice to say that Decipher has topped Prison Of Desire in every conceivable way. From the even better artwork, songs, atmosphere, vocal performance, production and maturity, the band has managed to somehow outdo themselves and crank up greatness to another level. A couple of things have changed within the band apparently to accomplish this feat. First, the keyboard player and drummer have been changed. Equally competent players have replaced them. Violins, violas, violin cellos have been added to make the sound more gothic and atmospheric. Acoustic guitars adorn lots of the sound. Floor Jansen has increased her vocal ability somehow -- she was adorned on Prison Of Desire for her ability to sing in a variety of styles, including opera to semi-pop style to all out aggression. She sounds much more confident and powerful this time out. The "Beast" parts have been minimized, although After Forever used them very sparingly and wisely than most bands in this style, and this is how the band have found their way into the hearts of those who feared this style because of overuse of the growls. On Decipher, they are used even more sparingly and in only the most necessary parts of the songs to emphasize the emotions within. This gives Floor even more chance to show off her style and ability. The guitars are still heavy and powerful, which is the basis for their power and heaviness. Solos are kept to a minimum, allowing the synths and violins to do their thing. The dramatic, epic style of the songs has also been increased - giving the impression of this band standing before a huge orchestra and choir.

The ballad between Floor Jansen and guest vocalist Rein Kolpa on "Imperfect Tenses" remind me of Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman performing some musical track from a huge modern play. It's beautiful as well as haunting and fits perfectly with the style and sound of After Forever.

The production even goes further than Prison Of Desire, and only Oscar "Ayreon" Holleman, Stephen van Haestregt, and Peter van 't Riet could combine their talents to produce sound this huge from so many instruments being played at once. The sound will certainly tax your sound system and show just what a band can really do with sound given the opportunity to work with people who know what huge sound is all about.

This band is without a doubt going to have a huge future if they can keep up the greatness as they have from the beginning. As more and more people get to hear this style of music, they will be able to appreciate what this band has to offer in a different way than most others in this genre. If darkness, power, atmosphere and huge epic songs are what you look for in music, look no further than this band. This is absolutely essential for any listener of progressive metal music and for those who think that "beauty & the beast" music isn't what it is cut out to be. After Forever represents the first line of quality in this genre, and with releases like this, will be around for a long time leading the way for this genre to become more accepted worldwide. Mind-blowingly incredible.

Ex Cathedra / Monolith Of Doubt / My Pledge Of Allegiance - The Sealed Fate / Emphasis / Intrinsic / Zenith / Estranged / Imperfect Tenses / My Pledge Of Allegiance #2 - The Tempted Fate / The Key / Forlorn Hope

Floor Jansen - vocals
Mark Jansen - guitars, screams
Sander Gommans - guitars, grunts
Lando Van Gils - synths
Luuk Van Gerven - bass
Andre Borgman - drums, acoustic guitars

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: February 8th 2002
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri
Artist website:
Hits: 1554
Language: english


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