Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Flats and Sharps

A survey of some recent music news that has interested me. I also have a home improvement update that I'll post later.

After Forever, one of my favourite bands, has broken up:

Dearest Fans,

After nearly 15 years and with heavy hearts, we have decided to call an end to a great and exciting time as After Forever. We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished, and especially of the road we took to get here. After Forever has never been a band that repeated itself; we always tried out new things, even though many of them were certainly done at a risk. We think that that has been one of the reasons we’ve always enjoyed enormous support from all our loyal fans.


We know that this will be a big disappointment to you, dear fans, and it makes it that much harder for us. You have always given us your all and it was our pledge, in turn, always to give at least as much back to you for as long as we exist. In this moment, that’s unfortunately just not possible, so we'd rather leave you all the albums and gigs we achieved with maximum input...We'll miss you all.

Most Sincerely,

Floor, Sander, Joost, Bas, Andre and Luuk

After Forever was part of the Netherlands' metal scene, a particular branch of gothic metal and symphonic metal sounding acts led by clean-voiced female singers. Fellow travellers included Within Temptation (who courted the most attention in North America by adopting a more mainstream, Evanescence-like sound), The Gathering (although they transitioned from an atmospheric death metal band to a moody alternative rock, almost shoegazer sound), and Epica (founded by After Forever co-founder Mark Jansen).

After Forever was successful in Europe, but didn't really get the cross-Atlantic attention the other bands above did, likely because of the more progressive rock elements of their sound. But these elements, along with Floor Jansen's talents as a vocalist, made them one of my favourite bands. Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering), and Simone Simons (Epica) are all very capable of singing with a resonant, clean soprano (or mezzo-soprano). Floor not only outshines them in this capacity (q.v. "Monolith of Doubt"), she can also add a rough, rock edge when appropriate (a la "Face Your Demons"). I had the pleasure of seeing After Forever live over a year ago, and Floor has great performance charisma as well. I've seen The Gathering live, and watched videos of the other two, and don't get nearly the same presence that Floor gives off. Floor is a real-deal rock singer; the others are more like stage ornaments with pretty voices.

Watch for the high note at 2:57.

Floor really rocks out on this one, especially the bridge.

Farewell, After Forever. You'll be missed.

On a higher note, Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil, another favourite of mine, have a new album out in April, and hopefully their tour hits Ontario at some point. (Lacuna Coil have more of a straight-ahead rock/nu metal sound, and being Italians, an over-inflated sense of drama.)

Also, my hands-down favourite band, Dream Theater, have a new album coming out this spring, followed by another Progressive Nation tour! I think between all these concerts and the Stratford Festival I'm going to be pretty broke this summer...