The Gathering
Mandylion


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
July 16th, 2007 | 68 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first release with Anneke on vocals. Still more metal than experiemental and catchy as hell.

The Gathering started their career as a doom band complete with a death metal vocalist. They set themselves apart due to the nature of their lyrics and the interesting sounds used by their keyboardist. After losing their original vocalist and releasing a musically interesting, yet vocally horrible second album they began yet another search for a new singer… enter Anneke van Giersbergen. Anneke has a very good vocal style and one that sets her apart from the majority of other female metal vocalists. The best way to describe her voice would be to say that she has a similar vocal style to Bjork, but that Anneke exercises a lot more restraint. An interesting thing to note is that the band had already written most of the music for Mandylion before deciding on Anneke, which means that it is a lot more metallic and not tailored around her voice like subsequent releases. This is actually a good thing because it’s that fact that allowed Mandylion to be the most metal The Gathering would ever be again, since tailoring their songs to Anneke’s voice apparently meant mellowing out considerably.

Although this is a metal album, the riffs are generally pretty simple and repetitive and are not at the forefront of the music too often. They never get heavy or crazy, instead choosing to just provide the backdrop for the main players on this album. The main players on this album are the keyboards and Anneke’s vocals. The keyboardist deserves a mention anyway, as he uses sounds and influences not usually found on a rock or metal album. His parts are always interesting and seem well thought out allowing songs to reach a higher level of quality. The keyboards are also usually the source of melody and variation within the songs and play more of a lead role as opposed to just providing some background sounds. It should be made clear that “lead role” does not imply that he’s out there doing keyboard solo’s and playing things that don’t fit within the context of the song, its just that he’s the main melodic source. Of course, the main focus of each song and of most fans is Anneke. Her voice is strong, clear, and powerful when it needs to be but can also become soft and fragile as well. Her vocals on this album tend to run up and down the higher octaves similar to what Bjork does on her albums, but it never gets to the point that you feel as if you’re listening to a dying cat when listening to Anneke (which is something I can’t say about Bjork). It’s that unique vocal style that sets her apart and has helped them to avoid most comparisons to other female-fronted metal bands.

As for the songs themselves, they are almost always played at a mid-pace without guitar solos or shredding. They tend to focus on the mood the song is trying to create and leave all the extra fluff out and it works great. The moods found on this album are either a feeling of sadness or a feeling of happiness and innocence. The two best songs on the album are two that stay more within the mood of sadness; those songs are "In Motion #1" and "In Motion #2". The first one starts with a simple keyboard melody and guitar riff with Anneke's voice conveying the emotions of the song perfectly. In the middle of the song it slows down. introducing another guitar melody, a subtle keyboard line and in the background you hear the sound of crickets. It's little extras of that nature that set The Gathering apart from the pack; it’s simply their great attention to detail. The band doesn't just wallow in depression for the length of the album though, they also have upbeat songs such as the opener, "Strange Machines", which is about Anneke wanting to take a time machine to all the different eras she finds fascinating.

As much as I’ve had nothing but good things to say so far, all is not perfect on Anneke’s first run with The Gathering. The first issue probably isn’t even her fault, as it’s actually the two songs "Mandylion" and "Sand and Mercury". Both songs are lacking any real vocals, move at a snail’s pace and both don’t seem to have really taken you anywhere by the time they’re done. What’s worse is that they’re played back to back and "Sand and Mercury" is almost ten minutes long. These two songs totally destroy the pacing and quality of the album if they’re not skipped. The other issue is directly contributed to Anneke and that would be the lyrics. The lyrics, for the most part, come off as kind of juvenile and simple. It doesn’t really take too much away from the song if you just focus on the vocals themselves and not the words they’re speaking but I do wish they could have been worked on a little more - but it’s a minor complaint.

Overall, Anneke’s first attempt with The Gathering could definitely be considered a success, especially since most see this as their peak. It was because of her vocals that The Gathering became more than just another run-of-the-mill metal band and it was because of this album that people started to take notice of the band’s quality compositions. Although I don’t see this as their peak, I could still recommend it to someone that is interested in The Gathering as it is high quality music, and is also a little easier to take in than subsequent releases.



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user ratings (208)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 17th 2007


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey, nice to finally see a review for this. I haven't listened to this album properly in its entirety to form a proper opinion, but you've inspired me to go on a gathering listening binge. yayz.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Willie
Moderator
July 17th 2007


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I definitely have no qualms about inspiring someone to renew their interest in a good band ;)

Digging: Necropoli - I

freudianslipknot
July 17th 2007


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. Every now and then I give this album a spin. It's actually very easy listening and a lot better than Karmacode which is the only other album I have that is remotely like this.

Willie
Moderator
July 17th 2007


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album is definitely a lot better then Karmacode. If you ever want a third album to compliment the two you already have, Unleashed Memories is a much better album by Lacuna Coil.

Edit: A much better album then Karmacode... I couldn't say which one I'd prefer more between Unleashed Memories and Mandylion.This Message Edited On 07.17.07

freudianslipknot
July 18th 2007


803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool thanks. I'll get hold of it. Karmacode is the only Lacuna Coil I have and it kind of has an unrealised potential about it. I have some of the later stuff by the Gathering, but like you say in the reivew it lacks the metal edge of Mandylion.

kalkal50
July 18th 2007


2386 Comments


Good review, never heard of these guys.

Willie
Moderator
July 18th 2007


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, never heard of these guys.


Thank you... Looking at your favorite bands as well as the ones you've reviewed, I don't know if you'd really be into them though. You may like their first album, Always, when they had a death metal vocalist.

BallsToTheWall
October 4th 2007


44373 Comments


Souns like a cd I'd enjoy. Good review.

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

Willie
Moderator
October 4th 2007


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks... if you happen to get it or check it out you should post here again and let me know what you think.

Shattered_Future
October 4th 2007


1540 Comments


Lmao this sounds like Karmacode? Since when?

I haven't fully given this a listen yet, but I like their less metal stuff more. Not that this is a bad CD by any means, they just realized their full potential later on.

Willie
Moderator
October 4th 2007


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lmao this sounds like Karmacode? Since when?
Ha ha, he did say "remotely sounds like"
I haven't fully given this a listen yet, but I like their less metal stuff more. Not that this is a bad CD by any means, they just realized their full potential later on.
I agree with you on that... somewhere around "How to Measure a Planet" I'd say

TheGreatD17
January 17th 2008


1141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think Karmacode is much better than this, maybe I'm in the minority but I really like Lacuna Coil, and I would say If_Then_Else is the best Gathering album.

Willie
Moderator
January 18th 2008


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you ever heard "Unleashed Memories" by Lacuna Coil? That is their best album, in my opinion.
As for, If_Then_Else, I think it is in the top 3 depending on whether I'm feeling like something mellow or something a little more energetic.

TheGreatD17
January 18th 2008


1141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

How to Measure a Planet? is overlong imo, still good but they should've cut it down. And I guess I'll check out Unleashed Memories, I haven't listened to that one too much.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 5th 2010


6105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is it me or the main riff in Strange Machines is post-rock to the bone?



Digging: The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

KILL
February 23rd 2012


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn this rules hard

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

Willie
Moderator
February 23rd 2012


15976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah. Their doom album is underrated...

coneren
February 23rd 2012


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Band rules

KILL
February 23rd 2012


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

willie you shouldnt be staff your taste is too good

coneren
February 23rd 2012


11111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah maybe he wants to trade spots with me



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