Originally written by Jeremy Garner
I’ve always got a kick out of pulling some of my records of The Gathering around my friends and watching their puzzled slack jawed expressions as their light tones floated through the room. It really should come as no surprise that they have found their home (excuse the pun) on well known avant-garde label The End Records and have put out yet another noticeable album. For those of you not in the know about this band, they aren’t exactly the poster child of extremity, nor have they really been a metal band since about 1994 after the 1995 release Mandylion.
With me sitting, sipping coffee with a lit cigarette dangling from my mouth while typing my review I’m reminded just how much this sort of artsy atmospheric rock is something I can dig while winding down from a long day and need a respite from my usual repertoire of extreme metal. Granted it sounds a bit more like something your girlfriend would show you but if you can get over the decidedly non-metal direction of The Gathering, there’s plenty of worthwhile gems to be found under the surface.
No, they aren’t going to grab you by the balls the moment you hear them. The true payoff comes from the repeated stimulus of the drug like sedation of their soporific melody, but I don’t see myself particularly reaching for their music unless I’m in the particular mood and mindset. That’s one of the only drawbacks to this album.
Really, it’s not until the album starts approaching its halfway mark that I became engrossed with the material advent of the jazz based driftings of “A Noise Severe” and the use of sampling and various other elements all incorporating their characteristic twists with “Box”. The later tracks seem to become more experimental as they move along through their multifarious progressive rock personas like the quirky “Solace” which never would have occurred earlier in their career. There’s still plenty of vintage The Gathering moments like the opening of “Your Troubles are Over”, the familiar territory of “Alone” or the industrial undercurrent of “Waking Hour”.
Anneke’s vocals, which I’ve always loved, are more contained and tame in a way and don’t soar nearly as much as would be expected from her performance but she’s still in top performance here nonetheless. The light keyboard musings of “Forgotten” and the acoustic backdrop of “The Quiet One” mix with her voice to make for a haunting performance. I hate not to discuss the band more because they are really responsible for the trippy and spacey qualities of the music most apparent on album closer “Forgotten Reprise” while the vocals tend to remain the solid constant.
I don’t particularly remember hearing this much of an alternative college radio vibe in their music especially on “Shortest Day” until now, but at least The Gathering have always remained progressive in the sense that they’re constantly pushing forward and trying to cover new ground and they’ve constantly moved further from each previous album and while some might take this as abandonment of their fan base I consider it evolution.
No, it’s not quite as compelling as some of their earlier work but it is a good release regardless. I’m sure some readers will find this utterly mundane and pointless but I know there’s enough of you out there who’ll be able to find something substantial to enjoy here. Don’t expect any sort of mind boggling complexity or technicality to be found on Home, just expect some well crafted, interesting songs.