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It’s Going to Take a Few Spins - 85%

mikeald, December 7th, 2011

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.