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Souvenirs, The Gathering’s 7th album picks off where If_Then_Else left off. This time around they decided to embrace more of their trip-hop and jazz influences. Unlike their previous albums, Souvenirs focuses on Frank’s keyboard playing. It is refreshing to hear Frank’s presence in the band, compared to the early days…which he played generic keyboards.
Anneke’s vocals are the best of her career. She displays jazzy vocals on the songs “These Good People” and “Even the Sprits Are Afraid.” Dreamy angelic vocals on “You Learn About It.” There is also an unexpected guest vocalist on the last track by the one and only….Garm of Ulver. The Gathering is not known for guest vocalist but this choice was perfect. Both Garm and Anneke sound top notch, I really don’t want to spoil it for you but if you are a fan of both vocalists, you will approve. Frank’s keyboards add to the high emotion that this song takes this listener through. A perfect way to end the album.
Rene’s guitar tone ranges from clean, jazzy, spacey, to even a distorted post-rock. In the song, “Even the Spirits Are Afraid” there is a section that even has a Sepultura vibe to it just before the build up. Songs such as the self tilted, Rene plays just for the purpose of adding atmosphere with a few simple notes of his guitar...which haunts you for days.
Hans, is a very underrated drummer. No he doesn’t play blast beats or crazy double bass but he knows how to keep a beat. The song “Even the Spirits Are Afraid” starts off with a jazzy drum beat which is soon followed by the rest of the band. But if you listen to just the drums you realize that Hans creates a simple yet effective drum pattern throughout this song and the entire album as well.
Hugo’s bass can be heard throughout the entire album. This is refreshing because bass is an instrument that tends to get buried into the mix. Bass highlights include “Even the Sprits Are Afraid”, “Monsters,” and “A Life All Mine.” Sad to say this was Hugo’s last album with the Gathering but what a way to go.
The production is flawless. Every single instrument can be heard equally. The listener can go weeks picking up new sounds that appear every spin. Personally listening to this album for five years, I still notice little effects that I didn’t notice before. If you are a fan of the bands older material this album might take some getting use to. Usually I’m not a fan of bands changing their sound but there are certain bands such as The Gathering who pull it off with ease. Recommend to people who truly enjoy music that goes beyond the expected clichés.
Album highlights: “Even the Spirits Are Afraid”, “Broken Glass”, “You Learn About It”, “Souvenirs”, “Monsters,” and “A Life All Mine.”
The Gathering's long and established musical career continues with the release of album number seven, "Souvenirs". The album itself consists of ten songs which last just under an hour in total.
Since their creation it has been well documented how much of an experimental band this is developing in to, this album instils that idea even more. What was once a Doom Metal band which contained elements of Death Metal, is now distant from the Metal scene completely. The Gathering have stated their music is more a kind of "Trip-Rock" than anything else, and this album seems to do that title some justice. "Souvenirs" marks the progression into new territories for The Gathering and their many fans. The band have managed to progress on to new levels of beauty and atmosphere with their wonderful song writing and superb performances in every department, especially vocally. The Gathering are one of those special bands that manage to set themselves apart from the rest, and rightfully so, a band that creates such brilliance with their daring and experimental approach to music.
Atmosphere is of great importance here. The Gathering manage to create such a hypnotising atmosphere that captivates an entire audience world-wide time and time again with every listen. This never becomes boring. With such flowing creativity and innovative songs, that really just isn't possible. This release is filled to the brim with emotion and is simply a powerful piece of art. Musically, The Gathering have never had such intense harmonic structures as they do here. A very rhythmic and melodic release, this showcases Anneke's talents brilliantly once again. Her vocals can seemingly adapt to any sort of music The Gathering wish to play. Songs are tasteful, purposeful and emotive. Each song is as meaningful as the last, and as brilliantly performed as the last. Percussion is outstanding, drum work is tight and well performed. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing album, which will have the listener captivated from beginning to end. Not forgetting the exceptional collaboration with Ulver's Garm on "A Life All Mine", two very good vocalists teaming up, what more could you ask for?
Highlights include: Even The Spirits Are Afraid (With its almost Jazzy drum section), Broken Glass, Souvenirs and A Life All Mine.
To further understand the music that contains this album, one must regress back into the days where vocalist/siren/angel/goddess Anneke van Giersbergen developed the sound of the band with every album they make. ‘Mandylion’ was a proto-goth metal album in a sense, but with contemporary/world music integrated in the music that makes an invigorating listen. ‘Nighttime Birds’, makes use of rocking/rock harder riffs on its song structures without compromising the angelic fervor bent in their deliver. As the prior album gives the feeling on its ‘metalness’, ‘How to Measure A Planet?’ is a complete about face turn, with the music completely focusing on Anneke’s vocals while the instruments provides textures and feelings that help in bringing out their sound. ‘if_then_else,’ on the other hand, is an accessible, back-to-the-roots rock album that sets the Gathering a step forward from its competition. Now, with its new album, what does the Gathering have up its sleeves right now?
Answer is, the Gathering makes use of hip-hop beats, industrial-inspired guitar samples, and a greater inclination to a more ambient, non-metal music. Sounds bad? You bet it’s not! We’re talking here of the Gathering, fer Christ’s sake; the same band that make great music that they’re accustomed to deliver, regardless of the styles they indulge themselves in.
For one thing, their branded ‘Trip-Rock’ music still does not devalue the distinct formulas that make them great in the first place; the highly-textured, highly-emotive guitars, the driven rhythm section, and of course, the soul-searching, teary-eyed, and inspiring vocals. However, the band takes a minimalist route with most of the tracks here. These tracks are presented in a cold, distant manner, but without any attempt of sounding excessive or pompous.
I’ll cut to the chase: all of the songs are great. Awesome. Amazing. There is no fat found in the generative body of work devoted in the song, every note serves a purpose. I’m not analyzing the significance of the instrumentations used here, point is, the songs flows without pretension. There are tracks that stand out though; ‘These Good People’ is a great opener; similar to Kid A-era Radiohead stylistically (a big influence of the band). The song contains a majestically sense of emotion despite its bleak presentation. ‘Broken Glass’ is awesome, starts slow, then progresses into another beautiful heartfelt number. ‘You Learn About It’ is THE standout track; it’s popish in nature (repetitive), but it’s so warm and cozy like a security blanket. In addition, the melody gets into your head like a fungus, it grows and grow until you know the song at heart. ‘Souvenirs’ is a touching, lyrical statement of letting go, and of course it’s conveyed using great music, and a nice vocal lines by Anneke. ‘Monsters’ is great (I’m running out of adjective here), similar to ‘You Learn About It,’ but to a greater extent, it’s more hypnotic and dazing than the aforementioned, but less memorable however. ‘A Life All Mine’ features a duet with black metal/experimental/out-there music connoisseur Trickster G. Rex a.k.a. Garm with Anneke. This track is like a dream come true. The song creates a morose and depressing vibe, due to the sparingly used instruments, coupled with vocal tradeoffs of two accomplished vocalists. Amazing.
Metal fans would probably dismiss the album, but open-minded music lovers must partake in this wonderful Gathering.
As I listened to the latest offering from The Gathering, all I could ask was what happened to the glory days of Mandylion and Nighttime Birds?! This was when the band was truly something special and made music worth listening to. After listening to the more laid-back album "How To Measure A Planet" and preceeding experimental album "If_Else_Then", I knew the band was moving away from their metal roots. With those two albums still being somewhat enjoyable, I figured Souvenirs would be somewhat along the same path. I only wish that was the case, because this time around the band decided to release the worst album of their career.
Through it's ten songs, Souvenirs drags along without really reaching a purpose or any excitement whatsoever. There's no doubt about it, the songs are simply dull. The band seem to be so lazy these days that they barely even play their instruments any longer and rely on keyboard sounds to cover up their lack of instrumentation. Anneke also now seems to think she is Tori Amos...too bad she sounds terrible doing her impressions and fills many passages of the album with annoying wailing and countless vocal experimentations, each more ridiculous than the last. Obviously suffering from a massive ego from all the fan appreciation, Anneke thinks her voice can do no wrong. Well I'm here to say that her voice on this album is almost shot and most likely will never sound as passionate and beautiful as it once did.
It's sad to see a once incredible band go to such extreme lows. I can only wish that they come back to reality and realize that instead of providing the listener with music to fall asleep to, they might be able to write some songs that would keep them awake. I only can recommend this album to desperate insomniacs and the deaf.