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After Forever under a different name. - 83%

hells_unicorn, August 7th, 2011

After the arguably untimely demise of After Forever, two musical camps emerged (excluding the obvious 3rd camp in Epica which formed years back), one headed by former guitarist and songwriter Sander Gommans in HDK, the other by front woman Floor Jansen in ReVamp. As can easily be gathered by who is involved in the latter project and the nature of the break in 2009, Floor’s project is the one that doesn’t stray very far from the roots planted by After Forever. In fact, if any criticism were to be thrown Revamp’s way, it would be that it is a de facto continuation of the now defunct pioneers of symphonic power/gothic metal.

Coming in like the typical hurricane of epic orchestrations and nimble riff work, this album contains all of the usual trappings, right down to the Mid-East inspired thematic material and occasional guttural melodeath inspired vocals. The opening song “Here’s My Hell” may as well be a somewhat bouncier and more power metal oriented reinterpretation of several mid-length compositions of Mark Jansen’s, thrashing up the riffs like crazy and trading catchy classical themes with evil sounding dissonant chords. Similar stories of reliving the more agitated moments of the past can be heard in “Million” and “The Trial Of Monsters”.

Floor and company are so intent on keeping the established franchise alive under a different name that they’ve even applied the typical 3 part song set concept that Mark Jansen came up with to this particular album in “In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part”. Granted, the riff work is not quite as thrashing and dark, going more in a depressive, atmospheric direction, but the same general vibe of grandeur and melancholy melodies is on full display. The closest that things get to the more aggressive form of before is on “Part 2: Disdain”, where the tempo does get kicked up and the guitars are given more prominence.

Pretty much anybody who has followed After Forever and Epica will like what is heard on here, in contrast to the HDK debut, which is mired by stylistic incoherence. This is about as consistent as it gets given the established sound that it follows, right down to each individual nuance in Floor’s versatile and very dexterous voice. At the end of the day, the front person can make all of the difference in whether a band works or not, but in this case the front woman actually made the difference in a franchise remaining established, save the name and most of the membership. It’s a small consolation to whatever fans are still busted up over their favorite band breaking up.