Having suffered the departure of singer Anneke van Giersbergen, who decided to pursue her own musical endeavors, THE GATHERING wasted no time finding a replacement in Silje Wergeland (ex-OCATVIA SPERATI). But would THE GATHERING stay their course or surpise everyone with a stylistic change or development (like they did in the past)?
Merely two tracks into The West Pole, it’s clear that THE GATHERING have found comfort in their stripped-down, indie-like sound versus the dark, looming, gothic atmospheres of their past. While associations with bands like LACUNA COIL and EVANESCENCE will never die, it’s important to note that THE GATHERING have more in common with indie/post-rock outfits like MOGWAI than said female-fronted dark metal bands. The West Pole largely picks up from where 2006’s Home left off. It’s another pleasant and enjoyable album where textures and breathy melodies shape the songs. The guitar tone this go-around are equipped with a grittier vintage edge that help give their sound a touch more character. But dont’t take that to mean that THE GATHERING are once again a “guitar” oriented band. For fans of THE GATHERING, Wergeland’s vocals are not far off the mark from van Giersbergen. Plus (very) subtle differences in her vocal patterns, provide a refreshing “newness” to THE GATHERING’s sound. To be critical, though, that makes the vocal component largely interchangable between Wergeland’s and van Giersbergen.
The West Pole is a solid effort that proves THE GATHERING do have life after van Giersbergen. But despite the solid effort and the addition of new singer Wergeland, The West Pole won’t change anyone’s opinion of THE GATHERING. For these veteran musicmakers, let’s hope their next album will knock some socks off. (Season of Mist)