The Gathering
The West Pole


4.0
excellent

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
May 6th, 2009 | 55 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Anneke Who?

The Gathering has been around for twenty years and in that time they’ve had seven members leave (or be removed). That number is pretty amazing on its own, but the more significant statistic is that five of them were vocalists. Of course, four of those vocalists were removed as pairs over the course of the band’s first two albums and are mostly forgotten. The vocalist that modern fans will obviously remember is Anneke Van Giersbergen due to her unique voice and her longevity within the band. Of course many fans felt losing Anneke would be the end of The Gathering but The West Pole ends up showcasing a revitalized band delivering one of their best works in almost a decade.

With that kind of statement it should be obvious that Anneke’s replacement turned out to be a perfect fit. In case it wasn’t clear though, let it be stated that Silje Wergeland is a perfect fit for The Gathering’s sound. Her voice is similar enough to Anneke’s that live shows won’t suffer when playing anything from previous albums, yet unique enough that it should be apparent that she is not trying to emulate the departed vocalist. In fact, after quite a few listens her vocals might even be preferable to Anneke’s (blasphemy, I know). For one, her voice is a little smoother without the subtle nasal quality of Anneke’s and she is also not prone to the pitch acrobatics that didn’t always work out so well in the past. The main reason she might be preferable is because it seems that her presence has inspired the band to be creative again.

Some may have liked the minimalist delivery of Home or the goth/shoegaze of Souvenirs, but for many the band was slowly removing everything that had made them appealing in the first place. The band seems to have finally realized this because they have brought back the kind of lush melodies that haven’t been present since Nightime Birds. In addition, they have dropped the grungy guitar sound of the past few years in favor of a sharper, almost metal, approach. That statement shouldn’t be interpreted to mean that they’ve brought back actual metal riffs, only that the guitar tone is edgier. That’s also not to say that they are simply repeating themselves or disregarding their past few albums either. The basic alternative rock structure of Home is still present but it’s catchier, fuller and generally more energetic.

The album opens up with an instrumental song, “When Trust Becomes Sound”, which quickly displays the band’s return to lush sounds and striking melodies. The amusing thing about beginning the album with an instrumental is that most people are going to be eager to hear the new vocalist, and the band makes them wait four minutes in order to do so. When the following song “Treasure” begins, it is clearly obvious that the wait was worth it. This song is easily one of the strongest of The Gathering’s career. It has a huge, catchy chorus accentuated by a violin melody, a strong beat and positively stunning vocals. The more surprising thing is that the band manages to maintain this level of quality throughout the rest of the album.

The album is able to maintain this high level of quality by beginning quick with a few energetic songs before gradually easing into slower, more sprawling numbers such as “The West Pole” and “Capital of Nowhere”. These slower songs contain an abundance of lush atmospherics and instrumental sections that allow them to continually build upon the foundation laid down by Silje’s vocals. After these more expansive offerings the band picks up the pace again with “Pale Traces”, ending with two more of the album’s best tracks, “”No One Spoke” and “A Constant Run” which close the album in an upbeat and solid manner.

A lot of the time the loss of a vocalist spells the end for a band, but every once in a while it’s exactly the kick in the ass that a band needs. Fortunately, the inclusion of Silje Wergeland on vocals has turned out to be a good kick in the ass instead of the beginning of the end. The Gathering have returned with one of the strongest albums of their career and although the return to lush melodies has a lot to do with it, a large amount of credit must be given to their new vocalist. While I don’t think that fans will ever truly forget about Anneke, Silje Wergeland definitely makes it easy for her to slip your mind for the duration of the album and the music makes it very easy to forget about the misstep that was Home.



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3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So, there it is. It turns out a new vocalist is exactly what they needed.

Also, the album is streaming: http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/luisterpaal/41900839

This Message Edited On 05.06.09

Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Altmer
May 6th 2009


5652 Comments


from what I hear this is entirely gay but ok willie

Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Then you're hearing from some people that are mistaking music for male assholes. ;)

This Message Edited On 05.06.09

jingledeath
May 6th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Willie but I must disagree with you on Home. That album rules but this one is even better.

Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like a few of the songs on Home, but most of it bores me.

jingledeath
May 6th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

okay well at least we agree on this album haha. Treasure, Pale Traces and the title track are my favorites off the album right now.

Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like every song on this album, but especially Treasure.

radianteclipse
May 6th 2009


397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

No Bird Call, Pale Traces, Capital of Nowhere, and The West Pole are all incredible here. And You Promised me a Symphony is one of my favorite ballads I've heard from them ever.

TheGreatD17
May 6th 2009


1141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, even though I think you're overrating this a bit. It's a surprising return to form after Home, but Pale Traces, No One Spoke and Constant Run do nothing for me while the opener and You Promised Me a Symphony are okay but sort of insignificant. The other 5 are excellent though, with the title track being one of my favorites of theirs already (probably because it sounds like it's from HTMaP?). There also seems to be two different track lists for this album, I have the one from Wikipedia and last.fm, anyone know which one is official?

This Message Edited On 05.06.09

Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, even though I think you're overrating this a bit.... There also seems to be two different track lists for this
album, I have the one from Wikipedia and last.fm, anyone know which one is official?
Well, when someone rates
something a four or higher there's a good chance that a lot of people will feel the album is being overrated, but I think that every
song on here is really good.

As for an official track list: http://www.gathering.nl/discography


This Message Edited On 05.06.09

TheGreatD17
May 6th 2009


1141 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have the right one then, which is good since it makes more sense than the one up there. And I think a 4 rating for this is perfectly reasonable, I was really talking about you personally since you have it rated higher than Souvenirs and Nighttime Birds, which I'm just not hearing. To each his own, though.

Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Track list has been fixed to reflect the official The Gathering site.

I like some of Souvenirs, but there are times when that album drags. The same thing applies to Nighttime Birds. I like the opening track and I love Kevin's Telescope but the songs in between aren't anything too exciting.

Also, the album is streaming: http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/luisterpaal/41900839

BallsToTheWall
May 6th 2009


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm going to have to acquire the whole album because when I try to listen to one of these new songs seperately let's say myspace, I instantly lose focus and turn it off. Souvenirs si my favorite, the duet with Garm FTW.

Wizard
May 6th 2009


19644 Comments


If ya ain't dutch, ya ain't much. I didn't find Home to be much. Would I like this Willie?

Excellent review.

Digging: Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

Willie
Moderator
May 6th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

would you like this? If you liked Mandylion and/or Nighttime Birds you might like this.

Edit: the whole album is streaming (check the first comment), check it out. This Message Edited On 05.06.09

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
May 6th 2009


3781 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

OOo, will get.

jrowa001
May 6th 2009


8750 Comments


ill get this soon. wasnt a huge fan of some of the songs ive heard but ill give it a shot

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009


20858 Comments


Hmmm, sounds interesting and I have yet to hear anything from this band.

Another of yours on my list Trey.


This Message Edited On 05.07.09

Willie
Moderator
May 7th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You know, Daveyboy, I think you'd probably enjoy this.

lobby
May 7th 2009


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I think nows the time to give my review a good plug:
http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=30408

That's for anybody who wants to see what Anneke van Giersbergen is up to these days....

good review!!This Message Edited On 05.07.09



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