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New Influences, Same Problems. - 65%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 23rd, 2009

There’s a lot I don’t understand about singles, but the most confusing factor is the supposedly radio edits for songs. In what ways are these versions different from the full-length songs? Is it in the fact that the songs are slightly more condensed and user friendly? I think so. I’ve chosen to write a review for this single because three of the five songs that make up this difficult single are different from the full-length songs, though the two radio edits are, as stated, condensed to be friendly to the ears of listeners on the radio. The Gathering are a much publicised band and with the new vocalist, the band have gained even more acknowledgment given this supposedly fresh appeal of the new material. In my eyes, as I’ve discussed in more depth on my review for the full-length itself, the material is a throwback to the days of previous records that the Dutch band had produced. The only major difference between the present day from the olden days is the fact that the band have changed vocalist. The band were never just one member regardless, so the fuss that is being made seems rather ridiculous.

She’s not dead, she’s just moved on to “better” pastures (though her new band resemble The Gathering and that makes NO sense to me whatsoever). This doesn’t make much of a difference to the bands sound, in fairness, so the hype surrounding ‘The West Pole’ seems rather dumbfounded. As I’ve started listening to ‘The West Pole’ a bit more, and its settling in my stomach nicely like a filling meal, the band have started to progressively alter my opinion towards a more profitable outcome for them. I’m growing to like ‘The West Pole’ more and more with time, but it still doesn’t stir emotions in me like ‘Souvenirs’ did, for example. The new vocalist, Silje, has a lot more going for her than a number of the previous vocalists -- not including Anneke, of course -- as she has a voice that doesn’t steal the show, doesn’t over hype itself and is suitably resistant against the criticisms that come her way, in regards to her vocal approach in comparison with Anneke.

Thankfully, unlike a vast majority of people, I have detached myself from the previous vocals, whilst still examining the content on ‘The West Pole’ in comparison to the instrumentation available on all the other records since The Gathering’s biggest transformation in the form of ‘Mandylion’, back when Anneke had first joined the band and they had altered their style from death/doom to atmospheric rock with gothic and subtle metal elements. The tinges of light that shine upon the most recent full-length, and this EP ‘City From Above’ are still the same as they have always been, in terms of the instrumentation at least. However, there are some notable differences between the current style and the previous one’s. The Gathering’s guitarists are leaning towards post-rock more so now than ever before, with those shimmering soundscapes that pick up repetitive structures from the post-rock genre and attach them to the usual soundscapes that The Gathering amass. These post-rock vibes are even continued in the stirring synths that surrounds the guitar work, complimenting it like a potential partner might do to a friend they’re seeking to move their relationship on with. Thankfully again, these elements do eventually get together and the result is often beautiful, indicating a soul mate factor to the listener. These elements were meant to be together.

However, with alternative additions like the Spanish version of ‘Pale Traces’ which, oddly enough, does contain a lot of English based lyrical content (which made no sense to me, once again), this EP is worthwhile to people’s whom enjoy exotic languages and listening to familiar songs in different languages to what the song would normally be played in. As the additional information states, there are three brand spanking new songs available here and, to be honest, the title track offers little in the way of joy since its mostly filled with negligent ambiance that moves aside the usual suspects that makes The Gathering’s soundscapes as impervious as they usually are. However, I am beginning to warm to ‘Miniature’. The introduction to the song with its luscious twinkling effects reminds me of a ambient electronic one man band Tycho, giving The Gathering a new and revolutionised sound that hasn’t been heard before (though the self-titled track doesn’t live up to the same ambient expectations). With the emotionally stirring bass, which is provided by the ever present and ever brilliant Kooijman, this song actually hints at something promising in the future if the band were to follow on from this song with a record like it, though I highly doubt the regular die-hard fans would like that much. Once again, this is a largely nonchalant EP that offers little to rise the fan up from their feet and celebrate out loud.