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The Gathering - Afterwords

The Gathering
Afterwords
by Daniel Fox at 24 October 2013, 7:36 PM

It's perfectly natural for a band to change their sound over the course of their discography; need I mention CELTIC FROST or ULVER? Sometimes, dynamics are experimented with; different instruments are used; different lyrical topics and atmospheres are dealt with. But true unpredictability occurs with a genre overhaul on almost every album. Dutch band THE GATHERING begun as a Symphonic Death Metal band and now, strangely, after a few significant line-up changes, exist as a quirky, atmospheric, psychedelic and sometimes sludgy, trip-rock band. “Afterwords”, their upcoming release, features a melting-pot of diverse, alienated sounds and discordance, and proves difficult to get into; but in time, it will eventually happen.

What would be considered by standard musical thinking as “songs”, on this album, are actually quite pleasant, verging on sleep and relaxation. The Norwegian Silje Wergeland had big shoes to fill, following the departure of the more well-known Anneke van Giersbergen in 2007, but has proven herself on the 2012 release of “Disclosure”, and on the upcoming “Afterwords”, as having a beautiful voice that is just as fitting for the band's increasingly eccentric music. Her capabilities are most exemplar on the ambient, and almost slightly melancholic, “Tuning in, Fading Out” as her melodious tones fade in and out of the soprano range into blissful falsettos.  The other tracks that side much closer with a progressive rock sound do so with a much stronger industrial touch, such as on “Echoes Keep Growing” and “Bärenfels”

A few of the nine tracks exist as a few minutes of segregated beats, melodies and ambience, best described simply as 'sounds'; much like one would find on certain eccentric albums of TOOL, A PERFECT CIRCLE and NINE INCH NAILS.  This is most obvious in tracks like “Afterlights” and “Sleep Paralysis”; the latter features periodic, frightening saw-blade sound effects that gratingly interrupt the otherwise serene atmosphere, reminding us of what might exist that one can still feel whilst in a paralysed state. In retrospect, a little bit of creative genius going on here.

I find it safe to say that the best thing about this band is easily the vocalist; for some acts, the singer is what makes the music enjoyable. The tracks that featured little to no sung lyrics were verging on the unenjoyable, and may sound to most like walls of sound. That is not to say the band lacks a creative muse; the thought is definitely there, but the sounds that result are often uninviting and foreboding. I could have enjoyed this much more, had I heard more of Silje's phenomenal voice.

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. S.I.B.A.L.D
2. Echoes Keep Growing
3. Areas
4. Afterwords
5. Turning In, Fading Out
6. Gemini III
7. Afterlights
8. Sleep Paralysis
9. Bärenfels
Lineup:
René Rutten – Guitars/Flute
Hans Rutten – Drums, Triangle
Frank Boeijen – Keyboards, Synthesizer
Marjolein Kooijman – Bass, Backing vocals
Silje Wergeland – Lead vocals
Record Label: Psychonaut Records
     


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