Review Summary: With nary a dull moment in their career, The Gathering progress their sound into alt-rock and ambient territory while crafting some of the year’s most flourishing atmospheres.
After more than two decades of constant evolution, The Gathering have managed to touch on everything from gothic rock and metal to styles featuring more of a progressive edge. No matter what direction they’ve chosen in the past, they’ve almost universally succeeded - a feat that is made even more impressive by the fact that they have changed vocalists five times over the course of their existence. The most recent swapping of iconic Anneke Van Giersbergen (1994-2007) for Silje Wergeland (2009 to present) led to The West Pole
, a brilliantly progressive piece that saw The Gathering expand their creative boundaries. Silje’s presence seems to inspire the band in ways that no previous vocalist ever has, and Disclosure
is yet another superb album that will surely cement Silje’s talent as equivalent to Anneke’s, if not greater. It’s a bold claim, sure, but Disclosure
is a bold album – overflowing with originality and genuine inspiration delivered from the perspective of the band’s pitch-perfect vocalist.
The Gathering waste little time in setting a precedence with ‘Paper Waves’, a track that allows straightforward rock and electronically-charged music to carefully mingle in the background of Silje Wergeland’s lithe but unwavering vocal performance. It’s the ideal opener in part because of its accessibility, but also because it sets the tone for what we should expect from Disclosure
. It is clear that melodic, experimentally-driven atmospheres are in store, and the album delivers upon - nay, exceeds
– expectations. One of the best moments of The Gathering’s career comes by way of ‘Paralyzed’, a song that commences with dreamy strings before plunging into an almost aquatic sounding ambience. The track’s midsection consists mainly of reverberated drums, carefully plucked electric guitars, and ice-tinged piano notes, creating a rich and mysterious vibe that travels well into the ensuing ‘Heroes For Ghosts.’
Even though ‘Missing Seasons’ and the dual tracks ‘Gemini I’ and ‘Gemini II’ join the ranks of Disclosure
’s atmospheric personality, there are a few moments of deviation. ‘Meltdown’, the album’s second song, opts for more of an alt-rock (almost vintage Muse) approach, balancing male and female vocals while introducing some of the heaviest guitar work we’ve heard from them dating back to the earlier part of the millennium. Despite its vibrant introduction and crunching middle, ‘Meltdown’ does eventually calm down; an electronic aura joins more heavy drum beats, chiming pianos, and even a horn to create a closing that feels truly weightless. ‘I Can See Four Miles’ is the other noticeably different track here, arriving in a groove of eeriness that gradually builds to an all-out rock climax that comes complete with swirling winds, wailing guitar screeches, and an orchestra. The second half of the track is easily Disclosure
’s epicenter – the heart and soul of all of its emotion and everything that the band’s new found direction stands for.
From start to finish, Disclosure
is an extraordinary endeavor into the farthest reaches of The Gathering’s progressive/experimental side. Silge Wergeland plays a major role in Disclosure
’s success, but it is important not to overstate her responsibility at the expense of the rest of the band. Selecting even just a few tracks at random is enough to understand the quality and depth of their imagination, not to mention their strength of execution. What we end up with is perfect balance between vocals and instrumentals, and for the first time in a while, it seems like The Gathering are all on the same page creatively. This could very well be The Gathering’s magnum opus, but words like those come with a hint of caution considering how frequently and drastically the band jumps from one style to another. Disclosure
is close to perfect, and if The Gathering somehow manage to top this in the future, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll have a classic record on our hands.