“Home” by The Gathering

Artist: The Gathering
Title: “Home”
Label: The End Records
Release Date: 4/18/2006
Genre: Atmospheric Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

If you have been following The Gathering since their inception in 1989 then you are well-aware of all the vast and varied musical changes and transformations that their sound has gone through over the years Originally starting as a type of Gothic/Doom outfit, the band became more of a more Gothic Hard Rock presence when singer Anneke van Giersbergen joined them in 1994. They released classics such as “Nighttime Birds” and “Mandylion” but the style changes would continue along with every album they gave us. As far as singers go, Anneke is one of those rare finds and a treat on the listener’s ear. Her voice is quite literally one of the most musically perfect you could hope to hear and as the albums continued to be delivered her abilities would shine ever brighter and the band would morph more and more until eventually becoming the brand of Atmospheric Ambient Rock we get on “Home”. It’s a logical step and one I first felt this happening with the semi-acoustic evening recorded on “Sleepy Buildings”. This was like an episode of MTV Unplugged and while the band shined in this fashion, it seemed as though Anneke was running the band as the whole thing showcased her a lot more than they had in the past.

There is some great music on “Home”, but it is a far cry from the crushing Gothic edge they once had and holds instead a much more commercially acceptable vibe. Rene Rutten’s guitar really sings but it always is taking a second place to how Anneke is singing the song (she has written all the lyrics on this one for those that were unaware). It makes sense for the band to make this rather drastic shift in the presentation because we are now in a musical world where the front woman is a dominant force and the most impressionable ones are those that are taking their bands into the future. We saw Evanescence become a force in Gothic Hard Rock, and isn’t it funny how The Gathering is pretty much the founder of this format along with Within Temptation, but many of that bands fans either don’t know, or could care less about who came first. The commercial edge will definitely disturb the peace of the diehard original fan, but there are some great tracks here such as “Shortest Day” and “Waking Hour”. They are hypnotic tracks and Anneke’s voice just captivates you while the slowly trudging drums count the measures of time and the keyboards open the atmospheric realms for visitation.

The band themselves have cited that this album does still have The Gathering sound that all fans know and love, but it is a more stripped down version of what they expect of them. Taking this as a Commercial Pop Rock release might not be easy on those who grew up with them as a different sounding band and instead this might be more for those fans who are easily willing to accept change and run with it. I can only stress that I don’t see a return to the crushing sound anytime soon and that we should deal with the continually intriguing music that we are getting. Anneke has definitely made her stamp on the group and if you look on the photograph inside, you will find her upfront while the rest of the band is off to the far rear. Artistic statement or sign of future changes, only time will tell. Lyrics are included for your pleasure.

Track List:
1. Shortest Day
2. In Between
3. Alone
4. Waking Hour
5. Fatigue
6. A Noise Severe
7. Forgotten
8. Solace
9. Your Troubles Are Over
10. Box
11. The Quiet One
12. Home

Official Website: www.gathering.nl

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