From the Netherlands are mediated again musical high feelings: After Forever, the well known and much sophisticated Symphonic Dark Metal band around golden throat and frontlady Floor Jansen publishes with „Remagine“ the fourth studio album. Extremely powerful and pressure-full rhythmic instrumental treatment, skilful refined with melodic-bombastic arrangements offered the sextet with its cliff to progressive song structures its listeners already on the predecessor disks to suffice.
And yet on vocal-plains the attractive Floor itself could noticeably climb even higher once more. Her comprehensive voice radius seemingly become stretched massively after all sides to be. Therewith these talented female vocalist covers now meanwhile kilometres of wide tension-ways apparently playing off.
As the Dutch lady reports me full of joy, she just returned to our interview with its drama-troop from a successful tour.
Hey Floor, how are you all doing these days, how things run for you guys?
„Very well! We just returned from a very successful tour through South- and Middle America. We did a 2,5 week during tour through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. On the 8th of September 2005 our new album `Remagine` will be released so where are preparing that and the coming shows.”
How would you describe your new music to inexperienced listeners?
„The new music is very diverse. It´s a new step in the After Forever evolution what means that we combined our typical After Forever sound and melodies with new elements. The cd is typically After Forever but with new styles as some industrial elements, rock and even thrash metal. I´ve tried to vary with my vocals too more then ever. I sing opera, a lighter ´kopfstimme´, I sing in a heave metal way, a rock way and sometimes even rather poppy. From high to low, from loud to soft. Because of that the album is more varied but it has melodies you could also find on our second album ´Decipher´. The songs itself can go from thrash metal kind a sound to a quit ballad. The sound of Remagine is the heaviest ever!!! Because the songs leave more space for each instrument (less is more seems to be one of the main things about this album) it became very heavy with a big drum and bass sound, the best and biggest guitarsound we ever had and the keyboards are functional and varied since our new player Joost van den Broek joined us. Joost and guitarist Sander wrote all of the music and I wrote all vocalparts and choirparts, also for the grunts and Bas´ clean vocals. This process went very smooth, there was chemistry between Sander and Joost and that made this album into what it is.”
Are there any bands or classical composers as influences to mention for your newest songs?
„Not really one in particular. Joost, Sander and I all have our onw sources of inspiration but I think, every music we hear can be called a source of inspiration because you always pick up something. We make an almost wild mix of that in our music.”
Btw: which other Metal acts or classical composers do you like?
„I am not much into classical composers, Metal and Rock acts I listen too now are Nightwish, Grip Inc, Annihilator, Velvet Revolver, Masterplan, Dimmu Borgir, but those are just a few bands I like and listen to.”
Where „Remagine“ has been produced?
„First I´d like to say that we didn´t work with just one producer who guided us through the process. We have done most production things ourselves. We recorded the drums, bass guitar, and guitars in the Excess Studio in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Hans Pieters, the technician also though along with making the sound and things like that, the more guarded the process not really produced it but that made him very valuable for the production, he know´s when to step in and when to give us the freedom to do our thing. We recorded on several locations so that made us our own overall producer. Joost recorded his keyboards in his own homestudio (he is a studio technician and producer himself). My vocals, the choir and the strings where recorded in the Gate Studio in Wolfsburg, Germany. I had vocal assistance again from Amanda Sommerville and my vocals where recorded by Philip Colodetti. The piano was recorded in another studio in Germany, the vocals from Bas and the grunts where recorded in Sander´s homestudio Eternia in The Netherlands, Sascha Paeth (Kamelot, Rapsody, Aina, Epica) did the mix.”
Something noteworthy to report of the time in the studio?
„It was a great time because it´s great to work on your songs and to see them grow slowly on cd. But is also had it´s downsides this time. The worst thing was because our drummer Andre couln´t join us this time. Right after the recordings of the pre production, they discovered he had cancer in his lungs… While he was fighting for his live we where recording `Remagine`. Because Andre is an amazing drummer he drummed on the pre production so well that we could use it for the album, so it´s still Andre you will hear!! That helped him a lot during his illness. Inbetween two chemical treatments, he even drummed on our balled (the song is called Strong and we first had only vocals and keyboards but during the recordings we added some guitar, bass guitar and drums), the subject of the song is about being sick and fitted amazingly well, it´s our best and most emotional ballad ever!!! Andre is fully recovered from the cancer! Of course you can never be sure with a disease like that but lets all hope it will stay the way it is now. He recovered amazingly fast, even the doctors were surprised! He had the heaviest chemical treatment there is and it helped him. He joined us on the 18th of May already on the Fields Of Rock festival in Holland and went with us on tour through South America as well! When we where in Germany for the recordings of my vocals, Sander ended up in the hospital as well with an appendix infection. He was operated a few hours after we went to the first aid and had to stay in the hospital for 6 days while we recorded the choir and my vocals. Fortunately this wasn´t as serious as Andre´s cancer but it was nasty and horrible to be in the hospital while you should be at the recordings. He recovered could as well!”
How long took the time for the complete songwriting of the new album?
„Not so long actually, we´ve never been faster. Joost, Sander and me started with the first ideas in the summer of 2004. We recorded in March and April 2005, so we had about 7 month to write the songs and to do the pre production. It just went so fast because of the special interaction between Sander and Joost, they just kept on writing together, a great team! For me it was almost easy to find the right vocal melodies.”
Which one of After Forever composed the new complex melodies?
„I think Sander, Joost and me are all 3 responsible for that. If the ´complex´ melody is played by a guitar it´s from Sander, if it´s played by the keyboards of real instruments in from Joost and if it´s sang by the choir, Bas or me, it´s made by me.”
What stands behind the new album title?
„`Remagine` is a non existing word. I made it up, it´s a mixture of the words reflection and imagination. Both words can explain the lyrics in a way. Some are about my imagination, things I make up like my lyrics about dreams, I am fascinated by dreams so a few lyrics are about that and reflection means it reflects on certain things in live, personal things or things that happen in the world.”
Which were your main lyrical influences for the new album?
„I didn´t have a main influence. I have a few lyrics about dreams because I have very intense dreams, they fascinate me and make me have many questions. I also write about things that really get to me, like the hostage of a primary school in Beslan, Russia. Maybe you remember the drama, it really amazed me in a negative way so I wrote about it. I have also wrote a few very personal lyrics again like the ballad `Strong`.”
Please tell about the new lyrics!
„The songs `Enter` (intro), `Come`, `Boundaries Are Open`, `Being Everyone` and `Only Everything` are about dreams. `Enter` (the intro) and `Come` are connected both musically and lyric wise. During `Enter` you start to fall asleep and you slowly enter your dreamworld. In `Come` you go into that world, it is as if the place is seducing you to come in and stay to feel and see all the amazing things there. In `Boundaries Are Open` I write about the fact that in your dreams you can do anything, all borders are open, you can do anything you want. `Being Everyone`: you can become any person in your dreams, male or female, child or grown up, everyone, you can even be several persons at the same time in your dreams, at least that happens when I dream. `Only Everything`: In my live but also in my dreams I want to do as much as possible, the title comes from a phrase that is often repeated in a book (`Galilee`) from Clive Barker (one of my favourite writers). The person in the book wants only everything and that made me think of all the things that happen in my dreams, the most crazy things!
The song `Living Shields` is the one about Beslan, the children who where taken hostage where literally used as living shields. That was one of the things that got me most. The main subject in not about `Beslan` but about all the horrible things that can happen when two groups of people start to fight and hate each other because of a different race, culture of religion, it happens everywhere in this world, in the present and also in the past. I reflect on the situation, I do not give my opinion or something because that´s not up to me. Im not in their position, I just want it to end one day!
The song `Attendance` is also about this world. I wonder how it would be to come to visit the planet earth, to see it for the first time. What will you see? Will you see the beauty of it, or the ugly, destroyed sides?
`Free Of Doubt` is a more personal song. It´s about something I am pretty sure everybody has: Doubts… Wouldn´t it be great to look in the mirror and be free of all those doubts?
`Strong` is the ballad I mentioned before. I wrote it for and about my mother. See has rheumatism, a disease that limits her already at such a young age in what she can do and it´s also something that will never heal, it only gets worse. It was hard for me to deal with that and this song helps me! Because the song is about fighting a disease it also fitted perfectly with Andre´s situation and the fact that he played the drums for this song during his illness made the song even more special. One of our fanclub-organisators, Peter, also got cancer around the time Andre got it. Unfortunately he was not so lucky and he died recently. He asked if he could play `Strong` on his funeral which was fine of course. The song already has a very special meaning as you can see.
`Face Your Demons` is the first rather funny lyric I ever wrote in a way that I do not mean everything serious, it´s very cynical. It´s about facing your fears, you must read the lyric imagining me as a little red devil on your shoulder, telling you what to do and what to fear, I try to scare you and to let you face your deepest fears. I really enjoyed writing and singing this song.
`No Control` is a song I don´t sing on myself but it´s written by me. It´s actually about Sander. He can´t stand it when there are things happening he cannot control (like many others). His frustrations come out nicely on this song!!!
`Forever` is lyric I wrote with Bas. The idea of the subject come from his as well. We sing this song together. It´s about a man who loses the love of his life, she is dead but she can still hear him. He cries out for her, she replays but he cannot hear her. It´s very sad and is not just a love song, it fits in many situations where people lose the person he or she loves.”
Which are your own expectations regarding „Remagine“?
„The reactions from the people who´ve heard it already are very, very positive. It´s always hard to be objective about your own work, I see this album as the best one we´ve ever made and I think it will attract a lot of people because of it´s variety. There are also songs on it that might attract a whole new group of people.”
Where do you see After Forever in ten years?
„We´ll be dinning with the world leaders and the biggest artists on the planet, haha!!! We´ve made big and great records and we still love to make music and to be on stage, haha!!!”
In which country do you have your most dedicated fans?
„Every country has got dedicated fans. In The Netherlands too and we see them the most because we´re Dutch and play a lot here but also in other countries fans are dedicated and loyal.”
In which specific direction will go the sound of After Forever?
„That´s impossible to tell, because we never know what music we will write and also because the coming album is so varied.”
Please tell about your upcoming live concerts, special effects planned on stage?
„We´ll do a few special and big shows in Holland and Belgium with indeed some special effects. We have a lot of plans but I cannot tell you anything about that yet (just come and see!!) In Germany we hope to come too to present our new special show!”
Specific plans for the future?
„We´ll do a very special show in December 2005 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Once again I cannot tell you what it is yet but keep on checking our website www.afterforever.com for updated info about this and many other things!”
© Markus Eck, 17.08.2005
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