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After Forever were not a band I thought I'd enjoy. See, I'm not so much into all of these female fronted symphonic bands. I find Nightwish to be rather mediocre, and Epica just bored me to tears. There's something different about the modern incarnation of After Forever, though. Gone are the flowery, frigid arrangements and most of the cliches they exploited on previous efforts, and in are ushered rock-solid tunes with catchy choruses and hooks and charms that will work their magic on you before you know it, with perhaps the best female vocals of this style I've ever heard. Maybe it was the loss of primary songwriter Mark Jansen that spurred this renaissance of songwriting power and instrumental proficiency? Whatever your explanation is, you'd have to be a damn fool to deny the majesty that is Remagine.
It's a magical album, this one. I don't know how they did it. Everything just sort of flows here, so it's pointless to pick at the guitar tone or the drumming style or anything, because it all gels into one collective whole that will floor you, back up and then do it again. The opening "Come" features jaw-dropping vocal melodies, with Floor Jansen switching from a boastful sort of chest voice to a more operatic style that just works, and all the while you have the guitars rumbling and rolling in the background, along with some light symphonic keys here and there. I like how this album actually has balls. It doesn't just put the double bass drums on high and start blasting away third rate Iced Earth riffs underneath all the fluff, but rather puts to use rocky, solid riffs and drumming that can crush skulls, and the result is something that most "symphonic" metal bands couldn't even dream of.
And they have songs that actually progress from beginning to end, rather than just repeating bland over-produced chorii for four minutes underneath a bouncy fanfare. "Only Everything," for instance, starts off as a slow, synth-infested number, but gradually builds up into a crescendo of metal glory. "Face Your Demons" might be my favorite song on here, with its charging tempo and headstrong, soulful vocal performance, not to mention some of the more complex guitar work on display. And the closing "Forever" serves as a foreboding and ominous outro to an album filled with gems.
After Forever can also write a catchy pop tune and still make it as wondrous and magical as their more complex tunes. "Being Everyone," for example, is a fantastic song, with some of the most memorable lines Floor has sung to date, and don't forget the soaring power of "Boundaries are Open." The touching little ballad "Strong" is a particularly poignant tune, alternating between soft, lush piano sections and louder ones, flowered with the same guitar wizardry that makes the rest of the album so good. "Attendance" is a cold, pounding industrialized tune, and it does well for what it is, and then you have "Living Shields" with its pert growling vocals to compliment Floor's angelic ones. An old trick, but hey, who says it can't still work?
Just go get this right now. Seriously, you need it.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
After four amazing releases (three full-lengths and one EP), I was positive that After Forever can never fail to impress me. However, I was proven wrong after a year with the release of "Remagine"; an album undermining Floor's singing talent and the band's potential of creating wonderful, heavy music.
The sound on "Remagine" differs a lot from your typical After Forever music. Here, instead of gothic metal, we're presented with a blend of industrial and progressive metal. Guitars are much heavier than on "Invisible Circles" and keyboards take a turn to the electronic side. I know it sounds pretty good, but it just doesn't work. Songs tend to sound a lot alike and the music tends to get a bit poppy sometimes (particularly in a few intros).
Floor's vocals are also different here. Although she impressed me in a few songs, she's not as great as she was on "Invisible Circles". On "Attendance" and "Forever" she manages to sing with emotion, yet she fails to do so in the other ten tracks of the album. On the other hand, Sander still manages to sing with the same power as he did on "Invisible Circles". In songs like "Living Shields" and "No Control" his growls are astounding. Even the clean male vocals deliver the same emotion as on "Invisible Circles". It's just Floor who disappointed me a bit. However, it's not entirely her fault, since the bland and repetitive lyrics make it hard for her to sing with any kind of emotion.
The choirs here are also reduced. If I remember correctly, they are only heard on "Come", "Living Shields", "Being Everyone" and "Attendance". However, they are only heard abundantly on "Come" and "Living Shields" (they're only backing on "Being Everyone" and they don't have a lot of lines on "Attendance). Although After Forever never put emphasis on choirs, I feel that they could've played a slightly bigger of the music. However, the few lines that the choirs have are sung excellently.
Out of twelve songs, only three deserve a 10/10. These are "Living Shields", "Attendance" and "Forever". However, "Come", "Being Everyone" and "Free of Doubt" are also very good tracks. The rest of the songs aren't very interesting and I always end up skipping them (although I don't mind the intro "Enter"). My favorite track is "Living Shields" due to the frequent choir involvement.
In conclusion I think that "Remagine" was a bit rushed. It contains a lot of filler-tracks which could've been easily left out. However, it isn't a horrible album. Fans will be definitely disappointed, but it's still in the tolerable zone. I won't recommend this to anyone, but I'd be lying if I said that I regret buying it.