Review Summary: This album is horrible and it is entirely the vocalist's fault.
I’m a big fan of The Gathering
and I have made it a point to buy all of their albums, but I always avoided this one because I have never read one positive thing about it. Even the band stays away from this album in a live setting, and just kind of chuckles in any interview that brings it up. Yesterday, morbid curiosity finally got the better of me and I bought this album even though I fully knew that it was going to be bad. I’d like to say that I was pleasantly surprised or that it’s at least not as bad as every one says, but I was not pleasantly surprised because it is that bad.
I don’t want to leave anyone in suspense so I’ll just come right out and say it; 100% of the blame for this album being as horrible as it is goes to their vocalist. On the album before this they were firmly entrenched in Doom Metal complete with Death Metal vocals, but they wanted to move away from that and tried to get a more contemporary vocalist for the band. What they got is someone who sounds like Mike Patton
at his most nasally, except without any of the vocal ability or creativity. His vocals are some of the worst “singing” I think I’ve ever heard, they’re horribly annoying, flat, and consistently out of key. If that’s not enough, their delivery is just as bad. They never seem to be in sync with the music, as if he wasn’t even sure what song he was writing lyrics for at the time. Just as in the previous album, they’ve also included the occasional female vocals, but she is not used nearly enough to make up for his complete lack of ability.
It’s a shame that this guy is so bad because the music he “sings” over is some of the best Metal songs that The Gathering ever wrote. The music is similar to their next album Mandylion
in that it is mostly upbeat and not too aggressive, but there are some differences that actually help it to stand out. For one, this album is very guitar oriented with the keyboards taking the back seat for first and only album that I can think of. Due to the keyboards not being a primary instrument, the guitar players had to step up and they did a great job. They have the catchy riffs and great melodies that anyone who has heard Mandylion
or Nighttime Birds
would expect, but they’ve also taken it a step further. There are some great heavy riffs on this album; in fact, I’d go as far as to say that this album has some of the best riffs of their career. Another element that sets the music apart on this album is the abundance of melodic guitar solos that they included.
I could spend more time on how good the music is, but it is really not worth the effort due to the terrible vocals. If I were to base a rating strictly on the music I could give this album a 4 without any problem, but as you can see, when the awful vocals are included that rating has to drop considerably. I’m usually the type of person that can ignore questionable vocal ability if the music is good enough to keep my interest, but these are just too bad. I wouldn’t recommend this album to anyone who didn’t just have a morbid interest in subjecting themselves to The Gathering’s red-headed step child of an album.