If “Invisible Circles” already showed in 2004 that AFTER FOREVER is moving away from Gothic Metal to adopt a Rockier attitude, with “Remagine” the band just swept away the last connection with their roots. It had been told that when the former mastermind Mark Jansen left the band was a big shock to the creative process, but AFTER FOREVER re-structured as group and had gained a new identity. The new style they play is more “mature”, symphonic and bombastic, moving towards Power Metal emulating bands like NIGHTWISH and EPICA and making very melodic music, abusing of electronics and with some songs sounding truly happy.
Even although I have a lot of criticism to this album, I do think it is a good step after the highly disappointing “Invisible Circles”. Good lyrics are back (in contraposition to the dumb conceptual story of the last effort) and the pathetic spoken parts are gone, while the overall sound is blissful. Some songs are full of energy and the opening “Come” is a strong hymn. On the other hand, the album is varied enough to contain also some simple and crystal-clear ballads, but the song writing is still too irregular and we can find enormous quality differences between one track and other.
Another disappointing element in “Remagine” is that Floor Jansen sounds much weaker. Ok, don’t get me wrong, she even seems to have perfected and trained her voice a lot and sounds operatic and angelical like never before, but that is exactly the problem in this case. If I like so much the first two AFTER FOREVER albums is precisely because of their simplicity, lack of pretension and that beautiful touch of innocence. When I had enjoyed so much Floor singing naturally with her extraordinary voice, it’s very frustrating now to hear her trying to be a diva or something, giving an “epic” high tune in the choruses that at last makes their music just unnecessarily kitsch and hyper-bombastic.
About the instrumentation, my main complain goes to the fact that it sounds dreadfully electronic all the time. Simple and repetitive riffs, lots of synths and horrible drums that sound drowned and artificial. On the other hand, the strings base is heavy enough most of the same time to give a strong structure to the music; uninspired, but at least dense and uprising.
Well, it is unfair to be always comparing AFTER FOREVER’s new albums with the masterpieces they had made in the past, because the conditions are not the same. They were my favourite Gothic Metal band ever with their first two releases and ok, they’re walking a new path now which is certainly not as great, but “Remagine” is still a progress from the last disc and, even although it has a lot of things to be improved, I keep high hopes for the forthcoming albums.
PS: You could feel surprised to see this album in the number 18 of my personal top 20 of 2005… I’m especially critical with bands I like the most and “Invisible Circles” has some fat mistakes, but I still like some stuff on it a LOT and it finds its way into my player rather often. (Online March 14, 2006)