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June 2007…. I and fans around the world where shock to hear Anneke’s departure. Yet being the band they are, The Gathering had the balls to keep on going. Silje Wergeland of Octavia Sperati was announced as Anneke’s replacement. The West Pole is the title, and here is the review.
Taking a quick listen, one can hear a significant guitar presence that has been missing for nearly ten years now. The trip hop influence has basically been left behind…which is a minor bummer. The songs are much longer than “Home,” also….no Anneke!
Silje is an exceptional replacement for Anneke. Mind you that she’s no Anneke, but she defiantly has more talent then the average vocalist. I really hope fans come to except her as part of the band and not be shadowed by her predecessor. Anneke quit the band, she wasn’t forced out…remember that folks.
Like ALL Gathering albums, TWP takes some time to sink in. In the long run, TWP is yet another gem in The Gathering’s discography. Every instrument can be heard. Layers upon layers of music give the listener something to notice with every spin. Songs vary from hard rock, pop, piano ballads, to atmospheric keyboard arrangements. If you’re a fan of bass, Marjolein does an exceptional job on this album…some very sexy bass lines.
TWP starts off with the instrumental “When Trust Becomes Sound,” which is bound to get your attention with its energetic arrangements. This song is vey similar to the heavier sections of “The Black Light District.” Rene strums his guitar like the world is about to end, Hans keeps up with a fast rhythm section, Marjolein’s bass rattles through your speakers, Franks’ keyboards add some structure within the chaos. This song proves that The Gathering is a band, not just a bunch of nobodies behind a sexy lead singer.
“Treasure” and “All That You Are” keep this energy going. The self-titled song slows things down. This song sounds like a mix of the doom aspects from Mandylion-era with the “How to Measure a Planet?” atmosphere and flow. The listener is taken on a journey very similar to the song “Travel.”
“No Bird Call”, “Capital of Nowhere,” and “You Promised me a Symphony” are the mellow songs of the album. These songs feature more keyboard/piano sections rather than the first four guitar oriented tracks which is done in good taste. Nice guest appearance by Anne van den Hoogen on “Capital of Nowhere” which doesn’t seem out of place at all.
Next comes the best track on the album, “Pale Trances.” This seven minute epic features a beautiful vocal performance by Marcela Bovio, catchy rhythm sections, and peaceful violin sections towards the end of the track. “No One Spoke” is the weakest track on the album. It’s your typical four minute rocker, with some nice piano sections lurking in the background but nothing to rave about. “A Constant Run” the second best track on the album. It blasts off with a rocking four minutes then proceeds with a three minute HTMAP?-ish outro with lush keyboards soaring high above the rest of the music.
“The West Pole” isn’t going to win over the hardcore metalheads but should win over fans of the pre-“Nighttime Birds” fans. TWP is actually a step up from “Home,” mixes the atmosphere of How to Measure a Planet?, and Nighttime Birds with the heavy rock of if_then_else with some new twists and turns to keep Gathering fans satisfied.
Please give this album a chance, yes Anneke will be missed but “the show must go on”…The West Pole is hopefully only the beginning of a new and beautiful era for the band. Long live The Gathering!