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Well what can be said about this album? In a nut shell…amazing music yet HORRIBLE vocals. Almost a Dance is second album by the Dutch band The Gathering. Gone are the death metal vocals, as well as original vocalist Bart Smits. In its replacement are Goth vocals by Niels Duffhues who thankfully only graces us this one time. The problem with the vocals is the fact that it sounds he’s doing a bad impression of Pasi from Amorphis.
Martine’s female vocals are a step up from Marike’s performance on Always but still not even close to Anneke’s vocal performance in future release, I guess the third times a charm. Not saying that her performance is bad but just generic, doesn’t stand out as compared to Anneke.
Now on to the best part of the album…the music, Almost a Dance is comparable to Mandylion. I will argue that it’s actually better. First, both have that heavy doom metal feel yet Almost a Dance feels more majestic rather than the dense Mandylion. Second, the keyboards are much more atmospheric which also helps create an overall sense of grace throughout the album. Bass is audible and flows with the rhythm quite nicely. Drums are far from technical but keep the pace up quite nice. Guitars are meaty and melodic, instrumental sections stand out much more than Manylion.
Yet again no matter how good the music is the vocals do put a damp around the entire album which gives this album the title “Worse Gathering album.” I really wished they rerecorded the vocals with Anneke because this album would have received a much higher score. But this is still a must for Gathering fans because this is the link between two different periods of the bands evolution. My suggestion is to imagine Anneke singing rather than Niels, you’ll find it much more enjoyable.
Album highlights include: Like Fountains, Her Last Flight, the Blue Vessel, and Heartbeat Amplifier which are actually really good songs minus the vocals.