After satisfying most of their wildest progressive metal aspirations with 2004's intricately conceptual INVISIBLE CIRCLES, Holland's After Forever took the virtually opposite route with their 2005 follow-up, REMAGINE, which, true to its title, produced some of the most commercial and straightforward songwriting of the band's career. Of course, the group still couldn't resist kicking things off with a one of those token, instrumental intro snippets, and packing ample metallic guitar chords, lush prog-symphonic passages, and massed choirs into several of the album's few complex offerings, including "Free of Doubt," "Only Everything," and "Forever." But regardless of these stylistic holdovers, the band's arrangements throughout the album were generally far more focused and the lyrics themselves significantly less bookish than ever before, resulting in a few bona fide gothic rock singles candidates in "Come," "Boundaries Are Open," and "Being Everyone" (all of them featuring hook-laden choruses), and even a rather plain ballad called simply "Strong." As the inevitable visual, vocal, and emotional focus of the group's otherwise all-male contingent, singer Jansen is in fine form here, as usual, and her classically trained operatic chops are given additional showcases alongside her equally powerful rock voice, thus leading to inevitable comparisons to Finland's Nightwish, whose example has always been an undeniable influence on After Forever anyway. For his part, guitarist Sander Gommans also manages to interject his Cookie Monster vocals into a few token treats for the band's die-hard contingent like "Living Shields" and "No Control." What really matters, though, is that despite its song-oriented vision and decreased flirtation with progressive flourishes, REMAGINE is still perfectly recognizable as an After Forever album.