The Netherlands is becoming quite the hotbed for Gothic Metal. We all know fully well who has come out of here, but AFTER FOREVER is making a quick name for themselves in a short amount of time. I have always known of them, but never heard them. I have to admit that I was curious about them even though I am tapped out of this particular genre. Unique is the best way to describe them. After the intro, "Beautiful Emptiness" kicks in, but is nothing like you're used to. It starts out kind of symphonic and bombastic with the Opera like vocals, but then Floor's vocals kick in which is quite Operatic and dramatic. The music bounces back and forth from soft to heavier than sin. Soon enough it picks up and now the harsh vocals of Sander kick in, but once again there isn't that typical of trading off vocals like on TOT. The song also blends in classical elements with violins and it even gets kind of progressive as well.
What I am explaining to you here may sound quite weird, but you have to hear the way it's composed. It does work well once you hear it and get the idea. There is a lot going on here and it's all done in just over five minutes. I think that the way the band composes the songs is done just right due to the fact that lyrical content is about loneliness and how the children must deal with them as they get older. It's all about mood and emotion. The interplay of clean and dirty vocals does come into play with "Between Love And Fire." Despite the lyrics being really deep and heavy, the band forges on by being heavy with an up beat tempo. Floor's singing gets on my nerves just a little because she is so over the top emotional with her dramatic sing, but it's done well and it fits the mood of the songs. I sometimes think she tries to be like Tarja Turunen from NIGHTWISH, but never quite reaching her status. It's just my opinion. Floor really shines on "Eccentric." She sings on her own here with just a little help from soft violins and keyboards providing a somber atmosphere.
Things quickly pick up on "Digital Deceit." The progressive elements are there and the track is once again bombastic and in your face. Jesus Christ, this CD just picks up more and more as time goes on. "Through Square Eyes" provides catchy riffs and sports a killer rhythm section that will have you shaking your head and playing air guitar. The track also provides just a little Middle Eastern flair, but it's so subtle that you will have to listen closely to get it. By the end of the disc, I was immensely impressed with this band. The beginning of the disc began rather quirkily, but eventually smoothed out and I was hooked. I didn't expect anything like this and it well surpassed my expectations.
What a release. While you can't listen to this all the time due to the heavy subject matter, when you do listen to it, you will be moved emotionally. This CD has it all: Goth/Classical/Prog/Death Metal/Metal and then some. You will have to listen to this release several times though because there is just so much going on here. It's heavily textured and full of dynamics. The compositions written on here are incredible and anyone who appreciates Metal in any genre should give this one a spin. I'm hooked! (Online November 4, 2004)