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The Gathering are back with their usual selection of phat beats. Wait, what? Yes, seeing is believing people. Previous to picking out this single, ‘Monsters’, I had never before listened to a single from a metal/rock band. Its a strange experience. The Gathering are known for their transitional music. First the Dutch masters went from a loosely structured death/doom hybrid, mainly focusing on the doom side of things and incorporated an interesting selection of keyboards into their music. Then, as history caught up with the present day, The Gathering merged into a rock band, supposedly incorporating gothic influences into their music. So, here we are. The record ‘Souvenirs’ is one of the best from The Gathering, but isn’t superior to, let’s say, ‘How To Measure A Planet?’. From this record I picked out two singles, one of a song I really loved, ‘You Learn About It’ (has such a good performance by the bassist its unreal) and this, ‘Monsters’. Though I do like the original song, which is included on this single, I prefer the former, ‘You Learn About It’ because of its fantastic use of bass and strength from the front line with Anneke’s vocal performance. This single is an oddity, it truly is. There is the original score which featured on the ‘Souvenirs’ record, then there are four different remixes, each possessing different characteristics and odd forms. The promo demo mix, which is the original song, is last to feature, so let us begin at the start.
First up is the radio mix, which features different electronics to the original, but generally speaking, its the same song. The effects haven’t much been altered, nor has any part of the performance, apart from the underlying bass which is distorted ever so slight. Nothing much to say about this song as its mostly the same as the original. The second is the ‘Gallion Mix’ and this song is exactly why I mentioned ‘phat beats’ to begin with. This song probably wouldn’t be out of place at your local club, which samples the best of the dance and trance scene. Before metal, I used to listen to a fair bit of trance, but this song is on the dance side of things, though the two are interrelated. It features an entrancing bass that completely tears down the work on the original. Since I wasn’t as fond of this song as others, its interesting to see the changes that adding a popular dance feel to the song adds. The mixing is decent, but its in that catchy bass line where the joy is to be had. I can actually see myself listening to this again. The vocals are tampered with, and this area of change is what does the song harm, adding effects to the vocals instead of displaying Anneke’s natural flair for singing. However, those damned catchy bass lines are enough to have my head bopping along like some sort of degenerate. Next up is the ‘Gauzy Mix’, this song isn’t as catchy as the last, but once again utilises a dance feel to it with a repetitious electronics section and distorted vocals. There is an aquatic feeling to the ambiance that strangles the life out of the vocals.
The production on the entire single is good though, despite some of the overly loaded songs with their hippin-to-hoppin bippin-to-the-boppin feel. Its like watching your granddad trying to ‘be down with the kids’ at times. I find myself with my head in my hands, but one has to remember that these remixes are just good fun, though it would be humorous if The Gathering took this electronic feel to the next record (though hopefully they won’t!). Despite the mediocre feel to the last song, ‘Monsters Go Deep’ (Dance Mix) is where it turns from decent (see the ‘Gallion Mix’) to the ridiculously embarrassing. This song brings back the actual bass, though not in its full form, but mainly focuses on an electronic section to inadequately generate the bass, which stutters and falters from start to finish. Then there’s the cheesy ‘tribal drumming’ effects from the electronics. See, despite the contrasting ‘Gallion Mix’ to the real sound of The Gathering, it was still decent to listen to and had a funky bass line that ‘accidentally’ had my head nodding along in appreciation, but the rest of the mixes contain too many hit or miss sections as the vocals fail to deliver their usual intoxicating and emotional ride, the guitars are completely omitted (as expected) and the bass, which is normally so fantastic, is reworked to destruction. One for die-hard fans, maybe, but for everyone else … Steer well clear and stick with ‘Souvenirs’.