It’s unusual for an established band to bring out a self-titled album. In this case, it makes sense. Under Mark Jansen in 1997-2002, After Forever was an early developer of the progressive metal sound that combined metal, death grunts and growls, and female lead vocals. When he left to found the great symphonic metal band Epica, After Forever struggled to find a new direction (and, for that matter, a new label).
This album represents an essentially reconstituted vision of the band. It moves away from “progressive” elements such as symphonic compositions, linked songs, or theme albums. Instead, it brings Floor Jansen’s vocal talents to the center stage. That’s an excellent decision. She can take the simple structures and instrumentation of a song like “Energize Me” and make it work by changing her timbre, projection, and style to carry the song forward.
The rest of the band is pretty standard metal: two guitars, keyboard, and drums. The songs are rockers and ballads, and they’re not trying to be more than good songs. I liked the first half of the album more than the second half – - if they’d kept up the quality of the first half, this would be a five-star classic.
All together, it’s a good metal band fronted by an amazing vocal talent. Most important, they have decided that this is what they are and are writing and performing as a unit.