By Dr. Abner Mality

Belgium's AFTER ALL are 30 years into their career and it's getting pretty late in the day if they're going to make their mark and level up. Honestly I've heard some of their prior 10 albums and am very hard pressed to remember anything from them. "Eos" has got to be cut from different cloth or it's time for the boys to ride into the sunset so lovingly portrayed on the cover here.

Well, maybe that sunset's actually a dawn. This is the best AFTER ALL album I've heard. Does it reach the status of classic? No, not really, but it's obvious more thought and money has been put into it. The production is top notch and the songwriting more memorable. The record really roars out of the gate, with the first 5 songs all being examples of classy speed/thrash metal with a lot of melody. New singer Mike Slembrouck is for sure the best AFTER ALL has ever had, with a clear, rich voice. These early songs like "Deceptor", and "Elegy For the Lost" bring to mind names like TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX, FORBIDDEN and the faster end of PRIEST and PRIMAL FEAR.

Then things kind of slow down and the album loses a good deal of its mojo. "Waiting For Rain" and "Grand Illusion" slow down to a more stately, QUEENSRYCHE-level pace. They're not bad, but the energy is not there. "Torn Asunder" and "Shadows of the Mind" are average...the AFTER ALL of old. Last song "At Dawn's Early Light" is a ballad but a well executed one, with emotional guitar work.

So AFTER ALL is on the right track. But after 30 years and in the most overcrowded metal market ever, will they have the time to put it all together? Time will tell...