After Forever is a Dutch band with an average of 19 years of age! and that have produced an album able to compete with the biggest bands in the progressive Gothic genre. Floor Jansen (soprano), Mark Jansen (guitars and laments), Sander Gommans (guitars and grunts), Jack Driessen (synthesizers), Luuk Van Gerven (bass) and Joep Beckers (drums) are the authors of this work. To begin, they have thrown the mighty Theatre of Tragedy (T.O.T.) away from the throne of the opera-hard style, after the change in direction of the latter with their irregular "Aegis". After Forevers parallelism with T.O.T. is more than evident so much in music as in concept. After Forevers music mixes diverse operatic and orchestrated elements with great attitude of guitars and classic moments, remembering in the most orchestral moments to the Lacrimosa of "Stille" although with a lot more quality in the voices. The voice of Floor overcomes in power (it is not difficult) to that of Anne Nurmi and that of Liv Kristine, being more comparable to that of Sandra Schleret (Dreams of Sanity), but with more versatility and registrations.
Commenting the different tracks of the album, it is necessary to highlight the impressive choral introduction "Mea Culpa" that opens the way to "Leaden Legacy", a marvel that reminds of Theatre of Tragedy with shuddering guitars, time changes, choral games and tranquillity impregnated of tension. Floor shows that she does whatever she wants with her voice, mainly in the ending section, when she shines in a specially remarkable way. "Semblance of confusion" is more operatic but at the same time sharper as for the used rhythms. They know how to play better, and they show it in "Black tomb", a song with a very calm beginning in which Floor shows again who has that "something different" that all good bands should have to differentiate themselves of the others. The rest of the song, more heavy, maintains a great level. "Follow in the cry" is the approach of After Forever to Eastern rhythms. The power is edulcorated with big epic keyboards. "Silence from afar" is a very quiet piece that reminds me from the first works of Dreams of Sanity or The 3rd and the mortal. The following piece is "Inimical Chimera", in my view the least original in the CD, only saved by the voice of Floor when attempting (with success) to emulate the registrations of Anneke (The Gathering). The album is finishing and it does so with four songs: the mysterious "Tortuous threnody", the tremendously epic poetry and medieval "Yield to temptation"; the calm and encircling "Ephemeral"; and the impressive and beautiful "Beyond me", in which Floor Jansen fights with Shanon den Allen (Within Temptation) in a battle that, sincerely, I believe that Floor wins, although not by k.o.
As I usually say in these cases, I don't advise the progressive fans to rush to buy this CD without having listened to it first, since this music it is not the typical one that can seduce the progressive listener. What I would sincerely ask you is to listen and give a chance to this type of bands, bands that, at least, try to make something novel in these times in which everything already sounds as something listened already. Of course, those that are familiar with the bands that I been mentioning in the review, and like their music, you have the moral obligation of getting this album.