Style: Atmospheric Rock
Release date: 2012-09-12
1. Paper Waves
3. Gemini I
4. Heroes for Ghosts
5. Missing Seasons
6. See for Miles
8. Gemini II
Okay, so this isn't metal in any way, but The Gathering used to play just that, even if it was many years ago. Their debut album "Always..." from 1992 is an underrated gothic/doom metal oldie, the follow-up "Almost a Dance" (1993) is a disaster. With "Mandylion" (1995), The Gathering got their big breakthrough when Anneke Van Giersbergen joined with her wonderful vocals. I still think that album is really over hyped and one can really hear that the music wasn't written with her voice in mind. But the follow-up "Nighttime Birds" from 1997 is nothing but a masterpiece. This is the only album the band has ever released where every song is written with Anneke's voice in mind and still manages to be metal. After that, me and The Gathering sort of drifted apart. Okay, I bought "if_then_else" when it was released in 2000 but by then, the magic was gone. They have since released three more albums - four including this one - and Anneke has quit and been replaced by Silje Wergeland (Octavia Sperati). So I dive into their new album "Disclosure" with the only knowledge that I've never heard this woman sing before and their music is apparently labelled as "atmospheric rock" these days...
First track "Paper Waves" sure enough gives me rock - no question about it. But is it atmospheric? What does that mean anyway? I think that the word "atmosphere" might be different for each listener, but to me - just adding keyboards and some effects doesn't make it atmospheric at all. "Nighttime Birds" was (and is) full of atmosphere. Oh well, nevermind. But the song is not actually bad and after hearing it a couple of times, I think I "get it".
Ms. Wergeland has a very good voice, but there's nothing special about it. I cannot get past without a comparison to Anneke and Wergeland doesn't come close to it. As it is now, I don't feel that "special something" and a vocal identity so she just becomes another good female vocalist in an ocean of voices.
"Meltdown" features some really uninspired male vocals and the music has too much of keyboard effects for my taste. After two minutes I wonder when it is going to end and I realize that there's 6 minutes left. Much of the music, both the annoying keys and the horribly distorted guitars - which I assume is there to give the music some sort of "hard rock" feeling - fails to give me anything but a headache. But in the midst of all crap, a trumpet comes in and saves the day. I really enjoy that part and hope there's more of that further on. The song eventually gets better when things slow down and becomes more "atmospheric pop" rather than "atmospheric rock".
The close-to 11 minutes long "Heroes for Ghosts" is at least 6 minutes too long and becomes background music so quick that I forgot that I was actually listening to an album.
On the other hand, "Paralyzed" gives me some serious Massive Attack-vibes, which in my book is something good.
And so it goes. The Gathering is at their best when they play things a little slower - such as "Paralyzed", "Missing Season" and "Gemini I" - and let much of the instruments stand back in favor of Wergeland's voice. By all means, this is not a bad album in any way. It's just that this is the sort of music that I cannot immense myself in, since I'm having a hard time to actually get any feelings for it. Thus, it becomes background music. But very good background music mind you. The Gathering is obviously very good at what they do - it's just that "Disclosure" to me, feels quite boring.