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After Forever - Decipher: The Album - The Sessions - CD Cover
image Transmission 2012

More After Forever:
album reviews feature (2000-2004)
Prison of Desire (2000)
Follow in the Cry (2000)
Decipher (2001)
Emphasis (2002)
Monolith Of Doubt (2002)
Exordium (2003)
My Choice (2004)
Invisible Circles (2004)
Digital Deceit (2004)
Remagine (2005)
After Forever (2007)

(07 July 2012) The Dutch symphonic metal band After Forever had a fantastic run with a string of very successful albums released between 2000 and 2008 initially on Transmission and in later stages on Nuclear Blast. After Forever are known for their unique blend of heavy metal and operatic vocals and as one of the first of such bands that emerged from northern Europe at the end of the 1990s. Fronted by stunning soprano vocalist Floor Jansen, the band commanded a loyal following and packed venues during their time together.

The band's second full length album Decipher, originally released in 2001 has been remastered and released as a two CD set. Decipher: The Album - The Sessions (Transmission (Netherlands) TMD-069, 2012) is now available. It follows 2008's release of Prison Of Desire: The Album - The Sessions in the same similar format. Centertainment's Hans van Vurruen is the executive producer of both of these projects.

After Forever disbanded in 2009 but was survived by several notable successes. The Dutch band Epica founded by guitarist Mark Jansen and vocalist Simone Simons, who have enjoyed significant critical and commercial acclaim. Vocalist Floor Jansen--who began singing with After Forever at the age of only sixteen in 1997--has continued to have successful musical engagements, including work with Arjen Lucassen on two Ayreon full length albums and all of the Star One releases. Floor now focuses full time on her band ReVamp whose heavier-sounding 2010 self-titled album had also enjoyed both critical success. Floor contributed to the 2011 MaYaN album Quarterpast alongside Mark Jansen, Simone Simons and Amanda Somerville, and vocals to one track on the Devin Townsend Project's 2011 album Deconstruction.

The new Transmission product is delivered as a tri-fold digipak with two CDs and a 20-page full-color pull-out booklet with lyrics, lovely photos and fabulous artwork. Sander Gommons provides an extensive forward to introduce the project. Miniature renditions of the EPs' cover artwork have also been thoughtfully reproduced.

The first disc of the new edition of Decipher is Chapter 1: The Album. In addition to being remastered in the 24-bit domain by Peter Van 't Riet using the Sonic Solutions System at FineTune (website), the disc includes five stunning bonus tracks from Afer Forever's 2002 EPs Monolith of Doubt and Emphasis. The non-album tracks include "For The Time Being," the band's cover of "Who Wants To Live Forever," and an "Imperfect Tenses" duet with Damian Wilson. The shorter single version of "Monolith of Doubt" and stunning orchestral version of "Imperfect Tenses" are also included. Remastering has added depth to the arrangements and brought Floor's soprano even more forward in the mix.

Chapter 2: The Sessions is comprised of twelve session--or alternate versions--recordings of songs included in Chapter 1 running in an entirely different sequence plus three demo versions of the songs. An entirely different version of "Who Wants To Live Forever" with Floor singing alongside (only) Arjen Lucassen's arrangements will certainly be noticed by everyone. Staunch After Forever enthusiasts and the most careful listeners may be able to hear the subtle differences in arrangements in the rest of the session recordings.

The three demo recordings on the Chapter 2 CD provide listeners insight to the genesis of Decipher's final versions ten years after the album's first release. The arrangements are generally less shallow than the finished product but Floor's vocals are both powerful and operatic fully illustrating the young singer's chops. "Monolith of Doubt" is likely the earliest of the lot and less finished than "Emphasis" and "For The Time Being." These are precious recordings that are certain to be cherished by longtime enthusiasts.

While various issues of Decipher are still generally available, this expanded edition, including a remastered version of the original project with bonus tracks and a stunning second CD of session and demo recordings from the artists' vault is delightful in every respect. This new release by Transmission will delight both those that have heard After Forever's original release and newcomers to this stunning band.

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