ACT II & III
Release: May 9, 2018
''Man has created a distorted world; Earth has been colonized and conquered by humans for thousands of years. We use the land and its resources as we would own everything. What if Others were the ones to act as we are acting? What if They instead of us had the totalitaristic control over all that light touches? This is how we imagined it all; man reacting to same kind of behavior as we have committed for decades. Ravaging our Earth until there is nothing left. The only thing different this time is that it isn't us that's taking everything we want, it's the Others.''
How would human react to it's own actions such as to usage of oil and plastic if they were used by some animal instead of human? Vaasa, Finland based After Forest wrote their first full length album around this theme. After Forest wanted to create a story-driven and whole album although music industry is currently dominated by single releases. Laura Haapasalo created album's artwork that is based on this story. I think Laura has done a wonderful job, the artwork really captures the mood of the music and the lyrics. The drawings fade into each other, just like every song does. To give you a small impression, see the following pictures:
I really love concept albums, as you all might know, but ‘’Act II & III’’ seems to have reached my list of favourites. The fact that the band is inspired by modern metal, grunge and 70's prog and made such a good combination is amazing. ‘’Act II & III’’ kind of reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s ‘’War Of The Worlds’’, both albums are about destroying the Earth and have a big progressive element in them. Of course, Jeff Wayne wasn’t as metal as After Forest, but you get the idea.
A lot of parts of this album gave me chills, ‘’’The New Day/Second Awakening’’ in particular. This song, with it 17 minutes and 55 seconds, might be longest track I’ve actually listened to as a whole at once (except for ‘’The Greatest Show On Earth’’ by Nightwish). You can feel the tension being build up, there is a story being told. I miss that in a lot of music from other progressive musicians, while those seem to stretch out the time, After Forest puts their entire heart and emotion in every second of music. I think this has to do with the fact that the album is created in memory of someone that meant a lot to all members. Maybe the music also connects to that person's story as well, because a lot of times, the music is kind of heavy and sad. The lyrics of ‘’No Graves’’ kind of hit me in the feels: ‘’I’m too tired to scare. Now I’m sick and weak. Am I already dead?’’
Actually a lot of the lyrics can apply to each and everyone of us, but this one was the icing on the cake when it comes to humans destroying the Earth: ‘’We created something we cannot destroy. We destroyed something we cannot create’’. It makes you think and wonder if maybe it’s already too late.
All in all, After Forest has created a musical masterpiece. It is not your usual progressive concept album. Though it is not a topic that everyone will like, it is our fate. ‘’We closed our eyes, burden on our shoulders. We laughed for too long even though we got warned.’’ The album as a whole (including the artwork and the booklet) is super cohesive and that impresses me. These musicians are really talented and should get way more recognition. ‘’Act II & III’’ by After Forest gets a 9 out 10 from me.