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Dissapointing. That's an adequate one word review.. I'll elaborate.
I got into this band through Decipher, though I never really thought it was the greatest band or album ever, I really enjoyed Floor's vocals (my God, she sounds like an angel..), the whole Arabic atmosphere and the nifty riffs. Who cares that the album is not even near flawless, it's an enjoyable listen and that's all that matters. But that's Decipher, not Invisible Circles. I'll continue about this album now.
The frontman got kicked out and started a new band (Epica) and you can hear that. Not only did After Forever change their sound, the fire is gone, but you can hear they're still trying hard to make good music. Actually, that ironically causes the album's major weakness. They've tried so hard that it sounds forced. After Forever, face it, you can't turn led into gold, no matter how hard you try.
They've traded their somewhat arabic sound for a more modern one (though you can still hear violins and shit), with groovy, fast riffs and Floor's vocals are not as high as they were on Decipher, they're still very nice though. The grunts are nothing spectacular.. But then again, their grunts never have been. Oh wait, some tracks include shitty clear male vocals, I nearly forgot to mention that. The drums and bass are ok, I guess, but they haven't been attracting my attention. There are some nice background choirs, but that's nothing unusual. The production is crystal clear, which is not a good thing on this album. It just adds to the feeling of things being forced.
Something that really attracts the attention is the annoying presence of keyboards, bleeps and shit.. And don't forget the voice overs. My God, does this album have voice overs. I guess the only thing that's good about them is the fact that it's in fluent English... but the content of it is rather lame and they last way too fucking long. This is a concept album, but that is not an excuse, these voice overs last more than like two minutes combined.
Yes, it's a concept album. It's a rather lame concept at that. But to top it all off, the execution of the concept is horrible.
The story is about a little girl that gets abused by her parents, who happen to have a bad marriage. The girl also gets bullied at school and she is lonely, so she writes in a diary and seeks friends on the internet. When she's an adult, she realizes that she's doing the same things that her mother did, meaning that she found herself trapped in a cycle, which leads to the album title: Invisible Circles.
What I find so bad about the concept is that it just doesn't fit, metal music is nowhere near soft or weak and should not have themes revolving around weakness. I guess that's just me though.
Now the execution of the concept. The lyrics are written from the perspective of the little girl, which unfortunately leads to the type of lyrics you'd expect in a random nu-metal band. As if that weren't enough yet, the album 'booklet' (there's no jewel case, at least not with the limited edition that I've got, just a carton book type of thing) counts 10 diary pages (actually 11, but one page was printed twice.. I'm not kidding), hand written, in English, with countless spelling and grammar mistakes. The content is, once again, rather lame.
The artwork is actually not too bad.. till you get to the pictures.. The clothes chosen are horrible and so are the ridiculous poses. Lady and gentlemen, this is a metal band you're in. Remember....
All in all, the music's not too bad as background music. Some riffs are actually pretty cool, Floor's voice is gorgeous as always, the grunts are not too annoying and the violins and keyboards are nice at some times. However, Invisible Circles copes with the same issue that Decipher had: all of the songs sound the same, nothing sticks out. Moreover, those downsides that I mentioned ruin the overall experience. Conclusion: This is not overall suckage, but I recommend you try something else instead. Decipher is better..