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After Forever - Invisible circles 2.5/5

Reviewed: 9-10-04


1. Childhood in minor
2. Beautiful emptiness
3. Between love and fire
4. Sins of idealism
5. Eccentric
6. Digital deceit
7. Through square eyes
8. Blind pain
9. Two sides
10. Victim of choices
11. Reflections
12. Life’s vortex

I've really been into the gothic metal style lately, specifically the female fronted bands. Since some of them lean a little towards the power metal style, it makes the style even more appealing. Bands like Epica, Delight and Elis are fantastic, and I can even handle the heavier gothic metal bands like Tristania, Sirenia and Penumbra. The mix of female vocals and rough male vocals (often described as "the beauty and the beast" style) is very exciting, and the power from some of these bands is awesome. After Forever has always fit into this style very well, but I'm not sure they're headed in the right direction.

So how does this 3rd CD from After Forever really rank among the bands mentioned? While it's still a good CD for the style, I don't think it's as good as their previous CDs and definitely doesn't match recent output by the mentioned bands. Songs like track 4 "Sins of idealism" and track 6 "Digital deceit" are excellent songs in the gothic metal style, and the very heavy track 9 "Two sides" and track 10 "Victim of choices" blend together as probably the strongest and fastest songs on the CD. The slow track 5 "Eccentric" is also nicely done. But one thing that brings this CD down, is towards the end of track 3 "Between love and fire", there's an insert of 2 people arguing about having a baby. Although it's not a very long interruption, the argument continues at the end of the later track 8 "Blind pain" for way too long. The inserts on these tracks are nothing that fit the music at all, and are a huge turn off for me. The rest of the songs are average, and overall the CD is still good, but this just doesn't match their previous CDs.

Despite my complaint, the vocals of Floor Jansen are still at a high level and their sound is still very close to their previous CDs, so fans of the band will surely find this CD to be satisfactory. But when compared to the Epica debut, or even their own debut 'Prison of desire', this CD isn't very competitive. With the latest Nightwish 'Once' constantly calling my name, it's going to be hard for me to find time for 'Invisible circles'.




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