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Origin of Female-Fronted Goth Metal - 95%

mikeald, June 3rd, 2009

Its 1995 and the world would soon be introduced to the new and improved The Gathering. With the arrival of new vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen nothing can stand in the way of greatness. As fans of this band already know, Anneke is one of the most talented vocalists of our time and Mandylion is only a glimpse of what has yet to come.

Historically, this album is a landmark for the heavy metal community. Mandylion marks the beginning of what is now called female-fronted Goth metal. Hordes of imitators would try, yet fail to reproduce this album. The problem with these other bands…the music is too generic. With Mandylion, the listener is taken on a wild ride of catchy riffs for nearly an hour. The instrumental sections of Strange Machines are hands down some of the best guitar riffs ever invented. Imagine simple yet catchy guitar patterns similar to Black Sabbath.

There is some interesting drum and bass patterns scattered though out the entire album. Atmospheric keyboard sections placed throughout the album for example during the songs Eléanor and Sand and Mercury as well as the self titled instrumental track.

The only problem with Mandylion is the fact that it’s not as adventurous as Almost a Dance but that’s not too big of a problem. Vocals are perfect. They always match the music dead on. Unlike most female Goth metal, Anneke does not sound overdramatic. Her performance grabs the listener and does not let go until the album is finished. However, this album does not strictly rely on vocals like most female-fronted Goth metal acts but gives the listener a good dose of instrumental sections as well. For example, Anneke comes in well after the half way mark in the 9 minute, Sand and Mercury.

If you’re into bands such as Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation you MUST own a copy of Mandylion. This album is the building block of both those bands and much more interesting. Here the Gathering found something amazing that will live on forever in the heavy metal world.