After I heard of the departure of Anneke, I was a tad bit devastated. I thought there was no way the band could possibly go on without their front-woman of the past decade... I thought it was the end of the Gathering as I knew them.
I was right, it was. But it wasn't so much and end as it was a dramatic rebirth. Silje Wergeland is the worthiest replacement they could have possibly found. Her voice, while more conventional than that of Anneke, fits the style of the album. While the first few tracks are a return to IF_THEN_ELSE territory, with a more guitar oriented hard rock sound, the album really picks up with "The West Pole", a dreamy, slow-paced atmospheric track. And then with "No Bird Call", the band returns to a sound similar to HTMAP, with dreamy snyth, distant drowned out drumming, haunting vocals, and a dramatic buildup into string swelling climax with swooning vocals not far off from something you'd hear from Sigur Ros.
In fact, from that point on the album contains some of the best material they've ever written. The beautifully crafted beauty "Capitol of Nowhere", the beautiful piano ballad "You Promised me a Symphony", and the bass driven progressive masterpiece "Pale Traces". I thought the Gathering had peaked...turns out I have no idea just where the roof is on the potential of this incredible band.
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