This week’s selection is likely to be the least mainstream one so far, containing as it does passages sung in a growling / “death grunt” style.
I don’t actually like death grunts, and I tend to stay away from bands where they are the predominant form of singing (i.e. death metal bands), but there are a few bands that manage to balance them nicely with soprano vocals and other symphonic elements, and I tolerate them there. After Forever is one such band.
With their first album released in 2000 and their last in 2007 (the band has subsequently disbanded), After Forever has had a short but glorious run, producing some high-quality and emotionally powerful music with a lot of raw energy.
The band underwent a slight change in musical style when composer and founding member Mark Jansen (pronounced “YAHN-sen”) left, going on to found Epica (a band which has more than lived up to its name, and which I’ll definitely be featuring in due course).
Today’s song is from the time he was still with After Forever. Technically, it’s two songs – the main one is “Leaden Legacy”, the second track of After Forever’s debut album, Prison of Desire, but it’s preceded by a short instrumental/choral piece called “Mea Culpa”, which makes a nice prologue for it, so I thought I’d combine them into one.
In fact, “Mea Culpa” and “Leaden Legacy” are the first and second instalments of a series of 10 songs written by Mark Jansen called The Embrace That Smothers, which extends across his move from After Forever to Epica (the first 4 being After Forever songs, and the remaining 6 Epica songs). The series explores the effects of religion, and particularly of historical interpretations of religion – this is the “legacy” that’s being referred to as “leaden” in this song – on society (there are some thematic parallels to Within Temptation’s Truth Beneath the Rose).
This is also the first song I’m posting that features vocals by Floor Jansen (no relation to Mark Jansen). Floor is one of my favourite singers, possibly second only to Tarja Turunen. A very well-trained and versatile vocalist, her career spans being the lead singer of After Forever, her solo project ReVamp, and most recently, being the new lead singer of Nightwish. One of the reasons I chose “Leaden Legacy” over other old-school After Forever favourites was because of how beautifully it showcases her voice.
Here it is!
Doomed to wander in repressed emotions
This imaginary refuge restrains me from awakening