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A Pleasant Surprise. - 84%

caspian, July 6th, 2006

It was with some apprehension that I bought this record. First, I'd never heard a song by The Gathering, second, a lot of female fronted rock/metal bands suck. (Eg.. Evanescence, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil..) Often, bands with a front woman are happy to play average riffs while the singer goes all operatic. Luckily this is not the case with this band. Anneke is an excellent singer, but she doesn't show off, and the rest of the band writes interesting and unique pieces of music.

The song that really hit first off was In Between. It's not very heavy, but the instruments are brilliantly arranged, and the vocals are addictive, very catchy, and very good. The Gathering have a refreshing take on the goth genre. They're quite upbeat, which is a plus. The guitars aren't really too upfront, and mesh with the keyboards nicely to create a cool atmospheric swell of music. The keyboards are pretty nice, contributing a fair bit into the sound, but never sounding remotely cheesey. There's some good bass lines, and the drums have a fairly unique sound too. The production is great too. The drums are maybe a bit too quiet, but everything else is perfectly in its place.

There's some good songs here. In Between is a great tune, Walking Hour is fairly slow and sombre, A Noise Severe starts fairly softly before the guitars come in quite loudly. It's not a super heavy song, but the guitars are really powerful in it. Box has some pretty cool guitar licks with some backwards drums. Home wanders lost through some hypnotic textures and some fairly cool distorted guitars ringing in the background. While most of the songs here are pretty cool, some more variety would be good, as a lot are around a fairly similar tempo, with a similar feel.

While the lack of variety is a slight problem, and some people may criticise that, the fact is that The Gathering have found a pretty awesome formula for this record, and if it works, why change it? What you have here is a great collection of slow, atmospheric songs that aren't afraid to be melodic and even.. poppy? So while I would recommend this, if you're a strict metal fan, you should Download it first.