Tuesday, June 6, 2006
In my search for more goth metal music I came across this group, a Dutch alternative rock band that is actually one of the bands that started and popularised the whole goth metal/doom scene, predecessors to more well known groups today like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence. Perhaps most important of all is that this is the band that originated lead female vocals for the genres.
Their music is very atmospheric - it doesn't thrash; it is metal in that it uses heavy guitars. The "doom" category is actually a label for darker immagery or mood and/or lyrics. They do have a dark mood, but it is not depressing. I often use the word "epic" do describe their songs because the songs could fill valleys with their soaring mood, though the term is more often used for symphonic or power metal, which the Gathering is neither. I find it inspiring to listen to their music outdoors in the mountains - it feels wrong to cloister the songs indoors.
The vocalist, Anneke, has an ethereal alto, flitting between notes like Sarah McLachlan - very talented and in command of the music while also flowing with it. Despite their status of being one of the parent bands of dark alternative rock and despite their major popularity (at least in Europe) they are sadly missing in the United States music scene.
I quickly visited Amazon.com and bought their first, second, and fourth albums with Anneke, Mandylion, Nighttime Birds, and if_then_else.
Mandylion definetly has a metal feel to it but with hints of tribal influence. "Eleanor" has epic, subtle bass walks; "In Motion #1" has a beautiful, soaring rolling gait; "Mandylion" is a tribal drum and vocal piece; and "Sand & Mercury" is an epic tale of a song, the first half of which is instrumental and is possibly one of my favorite goth metal songs of all time.
Nighttime Birds picks up the pace a little. It's songs are slightly less dark, more epic in scale and complex. Highlights include "On Most Surfaces" and "The May Song".
if_then_else is a slight departure. Enter keyboard work and a gritty, industrial feel, more rock than metal but without losing their 'large' feel. Has some tracks making it much slower than the other two albums I listed but they're beautiful songs. "Rollercoaster" is a great rock song and "Saturnine" is by far one of the best epic ballad type songs I've heard, building up to a wonderful string outro.
The Gathering has quickly become one of my favorite bands of all time. Their music is not standard; it's smartly written and simply beautiful.