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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.