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On first spin, Home feels a bit lacking as compared to 2003’s Souvenirs. I’m usually not a fan of albums that have more than ten tracks since most of the time they consist of filler. Yet Home is one of those rare exceptions. However, this being said, the songs Fatigue and Forgotten (Reprised) could have been excluded.
Rather than The Gathering releasing yet another polished album, they opted for more of a holistic sound. By holistic, I mean the return of string instruments as the main focus rather than the keyboard heavy Souvenirs. Home does not abandon the trip rock sound but rather explores another side of it. As for the actual production, Home feels hollow. This isn’t an insult but rather its strength. This hollowness adds atmosphere and paints the picture of empty art galleries and cityscapes reminiscent to later Ulver and Anathema material.
Most songs follow the verse/chorus structure, for example the first three songs (Shortest Day, In Between and Alone). Yet it’s the little things put into songs that keep them fresh such as layered guitar and keyboard effects. Nearly six years later and I still pick up new things!
You might notice there’s lack of heaviness on Home, but that’s also the interesting thing about this album. Rene Ruttan’s distorted guitar work is buried within songs that the listener will pick up on after several spins. Songs like Alone, A Noise Severe and Waking Hour feature nice droning guitar work reminiscent of the band’s doom metal days.
A minor con is that Anneke van Geirsbergen’s vocal performance isn’t the best of her career. Songs such as Waking Hour for instance feature a few off key verses. The second problem is the way the bass was mixed. Marjolein’s Kooijman’s performance is buried too deep. Note: The Gathering tends to mix the bass higher than most bands.
Like most former metal artist, The Gathering never really forgot their metal roots. Yes on the surface Home is not a metal album by any stretch. However, Home still contains cannon metal characters such as a focus on atmosphere, droning guitars, and emphasis on instruments rather than vocals.
Overall, Home is kind of a bittersweet journey being the last album to feature Anneke van Geirsbergen, yet foreshadows the direction The West Pole (2009) took. Similar to How to Measure a Planet?, Home demands much more attention from the listener because the rewards are worth it.
I'm not a huge fan of gothic rock and its likes, but The Gathering has a special place in my heart. They are such a diverse band, and that's what I like about them - no two albums sound alike, and all of them are superb and highly enjoyable. So, let's see what we've got in this one...
"Home" has plenty of electronic material in it. A sample here, another one there, there's even talkbox part in one place. It doesn't make it sound artificial like techno in the least, however. The samples blend very well with instrumental tracks. Speaking of instruments, there's no virtuoso technique here, but at the other hand all the parts are molded tightly together and sound like one single entity. Besides the instrumets we can't forget to mention Anneke's singing. The vocals are sometimes processed through some reverb/delay effect, making a haunting feeling, but are generally very clear. Anneke doesn't show off with extreme operatic stuff, but instead sings her parts with great precision and feeling.
Now, I should elaborate about the header of this review - just about time! If I have to say what's the greatest feature of this album, without doubt I'll say 'the athmosphere'. "Home" is an album that fits the slow nocturnal flow of time. Personally, I can't imagine myself listening to it with sun above the horizon. It just radiates calmness, without beeing boring. I can just listen to this beautiful music, staring from my window into the night and concentrating on beeing here and now. The album is played with such an emotion that it envelops the listener and doesn't let go till the last note.
This, my friends, is a piece of musical talent combined with starlight and packed into a CD. If you see it in the store, do not pass by...
It was with some apprehension that I bought this record. First, I'd never heard a song by The Gathering, second, a lot of female fronted rock/metal bands suck. (Eg.. Evanescence, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil..) Often, bands with a front woman are happy to play average riffs while the singer goes all operatic. Luckily this is not the case with this band. Anneke is an excellent singer, but she doesn't show off, and the rest of the band writes interesting and unique pieces of music.
The song that really hit first off was In Between. It's not very heavy, but the instruments are brilliantly arranged, and the vocals are addictive, very catchy, and very good. The Gathering have a refreshing take on the goth genre. They're quite upbeat, which is a plus. The guitars aren't really too upfront, and mesh with the keyboards nicely to create a cool atmospheric swell of music. The keyboards are pretty nice, contributing a fair bit into the sound, but never sounding remotely cheesey. There's some good bass lines, and the drums have a fairly unique sound too. The production is great too. The drums are maybe a bit too quiet, but everything else is perfectly in its place.
There's some good songs here. In Between is a great tune, Walking Hour is fairly slow and sombre, A Noise Severe starts fairly softly before the guitars come in quite loudly. It's not a super heavy song, but the guitars are really powerful in it. Box has some pretty cool guitar licks with some backwards drums. Home wanders lost through some hypnotic textures and some fairly cool distorted guitars ringing in the background. While most of the songs here are pretty cool, some more variety would be good, as a lot are around a fairly similar tempo, with a similar feel.
While the lack of variety is a slight problem, and some people may criticise that, the fact is that The Gathering have found a pretty awesome formula for this record, and if it works, why change it? What you have here is a great collection of slow, atmospheric songs that aren't afraid to be melodic and even.. poppy? So while I would recommend this, if you're a strict metal fan, you should Download it first.
Fans of The Gathering have become accustomed to an ever-changing sound as each album is unleashed upon the listening world, and this is no surprise. The Gathering have yet again adapted their sound slightly and progressed further still. Released earlier this year, "Home" consists of thirteen songs and stands at a duration of just over one hour. This is the Dutch bands eight full-length album and probably the best to date. The Gathering have also released two live albums, thus making them an extremely busy band who have managed to stand the test of time and in doing so have just become stronger as the years have gone by.
As always the main talking point is The Gathering's talented vocalist, Anneke van Giersbergen. Undoubtedly the bands best asset and the sole reason the band have such a good fan base these days, which is growing ever stronger. As with previous albums, this again combines elements of each release and mixes them up to produce an astonishing end product. In ways this is quite a simplistic album and easier to categorise. This is more of a traditional rock album with most notably Gothic elements. Songs are well produce, accessible and well performed. Leads are innovative and catchy, drums are tight and pounding and the vocals are amazingly performed. Songs are usually performed at a mid-paced tempo, which suits the style the band perform and allow Anneke to showcase her talent. Often enough the band resort to their old ways of churning out the odd atmospheric and emotive song with an almost haunting sound, reminiscent of "Mandylion" in ways. This is certainly a gentle album, and easy-listening. One might even suggest that its spellbinding and captivating. It cannot be stressed enough that Anneke's vocals are the best feature of the band and are hypnotising right from the very beginning. This is a very accessible album which should be enjoyed by a majority of fans no matter what it is you prefer to listen to genre wise.
Highlights include: Shortest Day, In Between, Waking Hour, Box and Home. Generally the entire album!
After a modest opening track in Shortest Day this latest release from the ever-evolving The Gathering really starts to work it's magic. In Between is an excellent reworking of the long lost track Zion that the band used to play live a while back and it is here that the album kicks in. Alone follows it up which was seen on the recent live DVD A Sound Relief, another great punchy track. Then the best track on the album for me is Waking Hour. Anneke's voice in the chorus has to be heard to be believed. It's like two tracks in one as it softens in it's second half.
The album then changes in tone after 4 up-tempo openers. Fatigue is an atmospheric filler which leads into the impressive sprawling track A Noise Severe. This is a fantastic track which needs a few plays to be fully appreciated. Next is Forgotten, a beautiful haunting melody that Anneke is so good at devising. It is reprised at the end of the album which is a nice touch. Solace is a strange track with samples of some type of Spanish language learning tape thrown into it. Bizarre but it grows on you.
Your Troubles Are Over is a fine track but is clearly overshadowed by the magnificent Box that follows it. This track has grown on me so much, it really is beautiful. The weakest track on the album is The Quiet One which seems out of place. It was recorded a while back for a short film and just seems as if it's been tacked onto the album here. The title track Home is another great sprawling track like A Noise Severe, fine work again. The album then fades out smoothly with the Forgotten Reprise leaving you feeling like you've just played something a bit special.
Overall The Gathering are on the top of their game and have created a beautiful album in Home. Fans of Mandylion and Nighttime Birds might have to give this one a few plays as it isn't bombastic and in your face. Destined to be one of the albums of the year.