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Freternia - The Gathering Award winner

The Gathering
by John Paul Romero at 17 May 2019, 1:11 AM

2019 looks like a great year for the power metal scene in Sweden. SABATON and HAMMERFALL had announced new albums, TWILIGHT FORCE is done with their new record, and prospects NORTHTALE signed with Nuclear Blast and announced their debut album. But above all of these is one big news that barely gets heard – one of the founding fathers of Sweden’s power metal FRETERNIA is returning after 17 long years of dry spell. Their newest album “The Gathering” will be released via Rock of the Angels records and is set to hit the market on the 14th of June.

In order to make a successful comeback after nearly two decades without fresh material, the content of your album must be remarkable in every aspect. That is exactly what you get with “The Gathering”. It’s a highly melodic power metal album packed with strong crunchy riffs, an elegant layer of keyboards, and a spectacular display of singing excellence. Right from the instrumental intro, you’ll know you are about to be treated with high quality music. And the moment “Reborn” begins, you’ll be easily taken away. The song contains the wintery vibe of SONATA ARCTICA, and the energy of GAMMA RAY. Pasi Humppi’s singing is on top form, parading his gritty voice through high notes and primal screams. Everything about the song is big – the anthemic choruses, the presence of the drums down to the neoclassical fashioned guitar solo.

After the high-octane attack of “Rebirth” comes the mid-paced “Last Crusade”. In this song, they employed a considerable heaviness – and that’s mostly brought by its pacing, Pasi’s tension filled baritone singing, the crushing guitar riffs and the unforgiving drums. “The Escape” enters with a delightful mood. Energetic and bright from the beginning, the song develops into a heavier and more dramatic one as it rolls on. The progressiveness of the song creates an irresistible enigma that will hook you. There are lots of seamless shifts and turns, and even shifts in mood.

The longest song “End of The Line” brags a massive anthemic chorus and an epic shredfest. Among the other songs in the record, this one would create the most epic live performance. The song is simply so eventful and there is not a single second where you’ll feel bored. Every note that drops will only make you wait for what’s coming next, and that would make it a surprise filled performance. There is also that big sing-along moments at the closing part of the song that only made it even more epic.

In terms of heaviness, “Fading World” wins the first prize. The combo of bass and keyboards make a sinister intro making it sound almost like POWERWOLF. The riffs are primarily NWOBHM inspired but also sound thrashy at times. The song also has a crazy moment when the second verse dropped with a breakdown-like riff accompanied by Pasi’s banshee screams. It also has the best guitar solo in the album. “Last Fragments of Sanity” is another epic. It has a great tension-building intro and a highly energetic pace. It has a vibe comparable to those of HAMMERFALL, SONATA ARCTICA, BLIND GUARDIAN and FREEDOM CALL combined. Even already at this point in the album, the vocal prowess of Pasi still amazes me. He has a great voice control, a very wide range and a hell of screams. His singing is one of the main reasons why the album does not bore even with its considerably long runtime.

Album closer “Age OF War” puts a strong conclusion to the album opened by “Rebirth”. The progressiveness is still there, the energy is still soaring high, and the choruses are still so addictive. Just a big way to conclude the “The Gathering” epic. Like I mentioned earlier, in order to make a successful comeback after nearly two decades without fresh material, the content of your album must be remarkable in every aspect. With this material, you will never be disappointed. For the fans that patiently waited for 17 years, stay still and be assured that the long wait is more than worth it. With “The Gathering”, FRETERNIA has exhibited a ruthless display of top-class musicianship. Every instrument did a great part in creating such an epic atmosphere and the way they connected with each other is flawless. The sound quality also gets a big thumbs up – everything in the mix is well balanced, and the sound is crisp and crystal clear. In terms of memorability, well, I don’t think it could get more memorable than this. Every single song leaves something in your mind. Overall, it’s simply a great comeback from the pioneers FRETERNIA. Any power metal fan shall get their hands on this album – it’s a gem! Metal Temple approves!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

Overall: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Reborn
3. Last Crusade
4. The Escape
5. In Solitude
6. Eye the Shadow of Your Sins
7. End of the Line
8. Fading World
9. Change of Life
10. Last Fragments of Sanity
11. Dark Vision
12. Final Dawn
13. Age of War
Pasi Humppi – Vocals
Patrik von Porat – Guitars
Tomas Wäppling – Guitars
Nicklas von Porat – Bass
Tommie Johansson – Keyboards
Oskar Lumbojev – Drums
Record Label: ROAR! Rock of Angels Records


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Edited 21 January 2022

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