The Gathering
Nighttime Birds


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew Stocker USER (16 Reviews)
November 3rd, 2007 | 38 replies | 9,327 views


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The first in a long line of excellent albums released by The Gathering, its quality and importance should not be overlooked.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

While Mandylion gave us a good idea of what The Gathering was capable of, Nighttime Birds was the album that proved just how special this band is. It’s a diverse and original effort from one of the most consistently great, yet overlooked, bands in modern music.

Their second album featuring the vocals of Anneke Van Giersbergen, this one fixes all of the minor mistakes that kept Mandylion from being truly great. While that album did have its fair share of good moments, the eight tracks had a tendency of being indistinguishable (mostly running in the six-minute range and having a similar mid-tempo pace). Perhaps the band noticed this also, because it doesn’t take long for one to notice a certain difference on Nighttime Birds. The first three tracks, “On Most Surfaces,” “Confusion,” and “The May Song,” are arguably the three best on the album, each of them establishing themselves as different songs.

The opener doesn’t take long to get started; the guitars enter at the very first second, and continue for half a minute until they decide to slow things down and introduce a heavier riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on Metallica’s black album. Finally, at the 1:20 mark Anneke enters, although rather unusually; her first lines sound like they belong in the middle of a verse instead of at the beginning, almost as if the intro was the first lines of the song, and if you’re not paying attention you might think you’ve missed something. From there, the song continues with several soft/loud passages full of keyboards, Anneke wailing away, and something close to a traditional guitar solo, something not often found in Gathering songs.

The second track, “Confusion,” is possibly the highlight of The Gathering’s early career. Slower than its predecessor, the track opens with a gentle guitar and a prominent bass, soon followed by Van Giersbergen, who really shows off her pipes in this song. This is a song that does what many great songs do, it builds; constantly getting heavier through each successive passage, eventually climaxing with about a minute to go, where Anneke makes the chorus even bigger sounding than it had before, hitting higher notes and holding them for a few seconds longer. If you only listen to one song from this album, it should be this one.

“The May Song” is, more or less, The Gathering’s attempt at radio-friendly music, and while it may have been recorded a few years too early, it is still a shame it wasn’t at least semi-successful. They were clearly trying to be a little mainstream here: keeping the track less than four minutes long, softening the guitars, including a catchy chorus, and featuring the most accessible part of the band, Van Giersbergen’s impressive voice. The results are a song that Evanescence wishes they could make, because The Gathering does all the things that Evanescence does, without feeling fake or generic. (The radio edit of this song, included on a deluxe edition CD, includes a third chorus and is worth checking out if you like the album version).

While those three songs are all great, that doesn’t mean the rest of the album isn’t very good in its own right, because it is; there are no real weak tracks here, and each one deserves several listenings. “The Earth Is My Witness” includes a nice string section that gives the song an epic sort of feel, “Third Chance” is a more up-tempo song with an infectious chorus, and “Shrink” is a gentle, yet haunting, piano ballad where Van Giersbergen harmonizes with herself to create a chillingly beautiful closer.

In the decade since its release, The Gathering have made albums superior to Nighttime Birds, but it remains important because it is their first great album, and it has had a great influence on bands like Lacuna Coil and even Evanescence. This is a must-have for any fan of the band or the genre, or even good music for that matter, it is truly a lost classic.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
November 3rd 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In the first paragraph I think you meant "capable" instead of "possible". Also you'll want to delete "consistent" from that paragraph too.

Other then that, this is a really good review of a really good album, even if I disagree with some things... I think I value "Mandylion" more then you do, and think that they showed what they were capable of musically right from their debut, "Always"... but hey ;) Welcome to the site.

Edit: Oh yeah, and there's a funky line break in the second paragraph near the end...This Message Edited On 11.03.07

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

TheGreatD17
November 3rd 2007



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha yeah, stupid mistakes on my part. I dunno what that line break is about, I didn't have that in there when I wrote it, and I don't know why I'm not allowed to edit my own review, but thanks.

Det_Nosnip
November 4th 2007



374 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, and classic album!

Willie
Moderator
November 4th 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't know why I'm not allowed to edit my own review, but thanks.
Well, the review was edited so either you figured it out or a Mod did it for you. Just in case: You click "My Profile" at the top of the page, then "edit my reviews" found on the left under your picture. Then your reviews will pop up.

Edit: Now that it's fixed I'll vote...This Message Edited On 11.04.07

TheGreatD17
November 4th 2007



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah i figured it out

Wizard
November 4th 2007



19206 Comments


Great review. I can't say I've enjoyed what I've heard from these guys (and girl). Maybe this album might be the icebreaker. I'll put it on my list of priorities to listen to!

Digging: Monarch - Sabbracadaver

TheGreatD17
November 4th 2007



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if you've listened to stuff from their last two albums, don't let it scare you off from this, because it's very different from their newer musicThis Message Edited On 11.04.07

Wizard
November 4th 2007



19206 Comments


I've heard Home and another one their newer albums (my memory of that other album is gone). I was reading somewhere they were much heavier back in the day.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
November 4th 2007



3760 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Before Anneke, yes, but they were boring and generic.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

TheGreatD17
November 4th 2007



1141 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nighttime Birds has plenty of heavy music, if that's what you're interested in, give it a listen. And I didn't like Home that much myself, too gothy.

Willie
Moderator
November 4th 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Before Anneke, yes, but they were boring and generic.
You're joking, right? Both the first two albums were great musically. I don't think they've ever made a generic song. Vocally the first one wasn't too great, and the second one was horrible in the vocal department... but musically there was nothing generic.

StickmanSouffle
March 12th 2009



286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm kicking myself for not having found this band earlier. Anneke is becoming one of my favourite female vocalists. She's right up there with Bjork. Anneke actually sounds kinda like Bjork sometimes, or is at least slightly reminiscent of her.

KILL
March 1st 2012



70379 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules so ahrd omfg

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

manosg
February 12th 2013



5677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My favorite album along with Mandylion by this band.

Digging: Donovan - Sunshine Superman

johnnydeking29
February 12th 2013



8970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I prefer Disclosure to Mandylion, am gonna hear this soon

johnnydeking29
February 19th 2013



8970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is better than Mandylion

johnnydeking29
February 19th 2013



8970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is better than Mandylion

manosg
February 19th 2013



5677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have both this and Mandylion as 4.5

johnnydeking29
February 19th 2013



8970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mandylion is a high 3.5 for me

johnnydeking29
March 20th 2013



8970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is so cool



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