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A lot was expected of The Gathering after Anneke took the band to another level with her recording debut 'Mandylion'. And while this album definitely expands on the sound/style created on the aforementioned record, its ultimately lacking in over all quality.
The production is arguably a little better than ‘Mandylion’. Generally this should push the songs to new levels but sadly it doesn't. The guitars sound as if they are still tuned to 'D' but they are treble heavy. There is an equal amount of palm-muted to open chorded playing with perhaps more emphasis on melody. As par for the course there are no solos. There are plenty of leads however and this somewhat makes up for it. The distortion sounds about the same as the last album as well.
The bass is still as good as it was on ‘Mandylion’. It seamlessly plays in and out of each measure while the drums and guitars battle for the foreground. The drums are relatively creative too. The Keyboards are a little more prominent in the mix as well; and while not necessarily dominating the soundscape they make their presence known. They are perhaps the most varied instrument on the album adventuring out just a little more than the others.
Annekes’ Vocals are in fine form on this and easily the best thing about the album. Their haunting, soul saving quality lulls the listener into Anneke's world; effortlessly drifting from the corporeal to the non-corporeal within the space of each song. The lyrics are more or less a carry over from ‘Mandylion’. The music is executed flawlessly adding a slight urgency to the laid back tunes. The atmosphere is very romantic and inviting as opposed to the prior album's darker vibe.
All in all this is a pretty good album but it has a major problem. Its painfully boring just after the midway point. While those in the mood for some mellow Doom Metal will find much here, the songs drag badly and blur together. Other than that this is a pretty decent release and (sadly) the last Metal album, Doom or otherwise from The Gathering.