Lords of Metal review » The Gathering - Souvenirs


The Gathering - Souvenirs
Psychonaut Records


The Gathering - SouvenirsEvil Dr. Smith: How long can a certain band be relevant for metal-zines on basis of its reputation? This is a question which has been asked over and over in the last couple of years when it comes to The Gathering. Ever since Anneke became a member of the band in 1995 when the gothic-metal record Mandylion was released, the band lost more and more contact with its “fairy-tale”-metal roots. Their music became undeniably psychedelic when ‘How To Measure A Planet’ (1998) saw the light and there isn’t the slightest trace of anything that even remotely resembles metal on this first full-length release of their own label ‘Psychonaut’. This review, therefore, will be brief, because I might as well be reviewing the latest Massive Attack, Radiohead or Tori Amos albums. There are, without a doubt, large groups of metal heads who openly or not, think that’s great music (Both Tori and Coldplay were in our Lords Of Metal Top 50 of 2002), so, apparently, we’re not that narrow-(metal)minded after all. But there are other magazines for reviews on those records.

But the new The Gathering album is brilliant! Again! Let this be clear to everyone. Laat daar geen misverstanden over zijn! The examples I gave earlier, Massive Attack, Radiohead en Tori were not chosen coincidentally, since The Gathering ended up somewhere in between those bands. For now anyway. A striking example is the fantastic ‘Monsters’, which is some sort of threatening trip hop combined with comforting piano-lines and uninvolved electronic rock-beats. There’s even less guitar music on this album than there was on ‘If_Then_Else’ but the sound has been taken better care of, is more subtle, more balanced and simply has better songs to work with. IN fact, René Rutten the band’s guitar player had better look out for a new job, for if there he can be heard, like in the title track, the sound has been covered in such dense layers of psychedelics, that it can hardly be heard. On the other hand, he is backed by a second guitar player (Wouter Planteijdt) in ‘These Good People’. Ulver’s Trickster G. Sings along on ‘A Life All Mine’, but unfortunately, that song does not feature on this 8-track demo. Other musicians that have lent a helping hand are D.J. Kid Sublime and trumpet player Mathias Eick, among others. Their cooperation gives the song ‘We Just Stopped Breathing’ that little bit extra. It all has been turned into one by Zlaya Hadzich (Motorpsycho en Sonic Youth, among others) who produced this record in a remarkably spherical way: rich yet pleasantly suffocating. Spacious, yet claustrofobically breathtaking. Anneke, finally, sings with more inspiration than ever before, without turning all attention towards herself. She finds herself and her voice continuously trapped in the atmosphere of the songs. Their ‘Black Light District EP’ which was released last year was – not only due to the impressive title-track – quite a showpiece, their new full-length is a souvenir anyone can take home with his or her head held high. Except, maybe, the stubborn purists who still think there’s nothing besides old doom-death like ‘In Sickness And Health’ and ‘The Mirror Waters’ and therefore think The Gathering are a bunch of uninspired, uninspiring slow-coaches nowadays. Those frenetic ‘Subzero’s’ are none of our concern: one can’t ‘Always’ do the same trick. After some dispute with record companies, The Gathering are now steady on their legs. And, to say it in the words of their own final track, these are ‘Golden Grounds’.


Evil Dr. Smith diagnoses: 90/100



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