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Makes you wonder how they got so big - 68%

Egregius, February 2nd, 2004

A band very influential in the gothic metal scene, in so far that gothic metal bands for a long time were called 'The Gathering-clones', as The Gathering pioneered that typical gothic metal style, with minimalist build-up repeat riffing and synths for atmosphere. They also helped establish the cliche for gothic metal bands having many members (they got 7 on this album).

Speaking of members, it's fairly ironic that The Gathering aquired so much fame using a set up radically different from what they have nowadays; where they had only a gruff grunter (Bart Smits) on their debut-album, here they've exchanged him for clean male and female vocalists, who would for the next album both be replaced by the by now famous Anneke van Giersbergen who had quite a different voice.

I'll start by commenting on the vocalists on this album: they're not very good. Martine van Loon, who would later join Orphanage until they too found a superior replacement, isn't bad per se, but her high clean voice lacks depth and power, and is other for the heigth fairly uninteresting. Niels Duffhues' voice on the other hand is medium level, but has a monotonous quality to it, as if his voice is forced, and comes across a bit whiny in his attempted emotionalism.

Speaking of which; the album, other than the vocal performance, is comparable to the last one, with the difference that they attempted to achieve supreme emotionalism on this one. The atmosphere is still here mostly, built from the atmospheric keyboards and the doomy death riffs, but it suffers from a sort of overambitiousness. They try to evoke more intense emotions than on their last album, but fail. A pity really, because even though I've spent a lot of attention to the lesser aspects of the album in this review, as a whole it's not bad at all. Where bands that strain after effect usually end up producing an album that's nice on the first few listens but ends up being superficial and bland, Almost A Dance has more staying and growing power.

All in all, not a bad album, but mostly for fans of the band (also for those curious to The Gathering's roots) and fans of the genre of atmospheric gothic.