Artist: Within Temptation Title: “Black Symphony” Label: Roadrunner Records Release Date: 9/23/2008 Genre: Symphonic Gothic Metal Rating: 5/5
Within Temptation are one of the true sensations in the world of Gothic Metal or Symphonic Metal depending on how you choose to view them and while incredibly popular in the European territories, the US region was never able to easily enjoy them without purchasing super expensive imports. Roadrunner Records’ signing of the band and subsequent release of “The Heart Of Everything” found their new music reaching hungry existing fans along with an army of new ones and by remastering and reissuing two of their classics would serve the drastic need for back catalog. This brings us up to the “Black Symphony” concert which is a fantastic CD/DVD release that captures the band performing for a sold out arena crowd with a 60 piece classical orchestra joining them as they deliver the best tunes from their latest and previous releases. The version which we had for review was the single CD and DVD edition so we decided to focus the nature of our commentary on the video portion and will touch upon the audio side after that. Let’s continue.
I can safely say that I am a big fan of the live music scene and based on this attend a numerous amount of concerts. That makes my sitting down to enjoy them in the privacy of my own home something tricky because it’s not always the same thing. As far as concert films go this one kept me glued to the couch like few others have ever done before because it was not only dramatic in its delivery but it was also very intense in how it presented the wonderful colors that the band paints with their material. Visually the production was stunning and awe inspiring based on just how massive it appeared to be on the screen. In the live sense this must have been a sensory overload to the audience that was lucky enough to be present for the show. The full orchestra is positioned behind the group who performs in front of them with the electric guitars, bass and drums while Sharon sings and often adds interesting dance moves and gestures to her vocal lines. It’s great that she is not just standing still and instead is getting into it as much as everyone else in the band. She also doesn’t seem to stop smiling for the entire show and I guess this is something that is totally possible when performing for such a loving home based crowd. For those who have enjoyed Within Temptations music in the past you already know how well it works with the symphonic elements but to see it done live in front of your eyes was just majestic. Clearly the Metropole Orchestra was the perfect choice for the musicians to raise the bar of many already excellent Within Temptation numbers. The orchestra while 60 musicians, is also comprised of a 20 voice choir that adds more depth to those tunes that required such things. Continue reading “Black Symphony” by Within Temptation→
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. Continue reading “Home” by The Gathering→
If you enjoy the brooding and atmospheric vibe of Gothic Metal then you should really be listening to The Gathering because they are leaders in the field when it comes to stuff like this. Tonight would mark my second time seeing the band and label mates Tub Ring would open up the show. To see our thoughts and images from the gig, just click the logo below to be brought to our item on the main PiercingMetal.com site.
Artist: The Gathering Venue: Club Rebel (New York, NY) Opener: Tub Ring Date: 5/15/2007 Label: The End Records
It was around this time last year that New York was first able to enjoy the music of The Gathering, and the Knitting Factory venue was where they stopped in for the visit. It was a great way to catch them in a quasi-intimate setting. When they announced that they would be returning once again I was very pleased that they were now under the guidance of The End Records who enabled this to happen the first time as well. For the show tonight they would be supported by their label mates Tub Ring and be performing at the semi-new venue called Club Rebel. The place was formerly The Downtime and since I had never been inside the club before tonight it would also be a new experience for me as a music journalist. In that I was looking forward to bringing you the highlights and any lowlights that we would experience during the night. Here’s our take on the evening as a whole.
Tub Ring: The band Tub Ring is probably one of the most entertaining and visually erratic bands that I have seen in a long time and I’m sure everyone around me agreed with this perception. Their sound is a mixture of various Rock styles and given the way they mix things up it’s best to label this as Experimental or Avant-garde. The lead singer is one of those madmen that is able to get you going at every second of the set and to be honest I could pretty much say the same about their keyboardist. At times he would climb atop them and jump down to better accentuate his notes and cause for music. Their debut release on The End Records is called “The Great Filter” and while material from it would be focused on they would also treat the crowd to other stuff as they have a number of other albums. They were really worth seeing and I look forward to another chance at this. I recommend these guys for fans of music that hangs precariously off the edge and if the aspects of Mister Bungle or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum appeal to you then please give these dudes a shot as well.
The Gathering: Since their association with The End Records, The Gathering has issued two studio recordings and one performance DVD entitled “A Sound Relief”. The amount of product has been great as the label seeks to multiply the number of fans that exist in their demographic in this region and so far as I can guess this is working out very well. The interesting thing about this band is that they are not quite the Gothic Metal sounding group that they once were and are now more along the lines of a trippy Atmospheric enterprise. The venue tonight had a sizable crowd and it looked to me about as large as the first time that they came around. This was nice, but there can always be more people if you ask me and especially when it is for a band that does not make the rounds all that often. I was happy to find them hitting the stage very quickly after Tub Ring, because the venue was growing uncomfortable based on the temperature inside the place. Summer was close to beginning and to be honest it was hotter inside than it was outside. As they launched into “Shortest Day” you immediately realized just how good a voice Anneke has in her possession. I find her one of the most hypnotic vocally and also one of the most expressive performers that I have seen in a long time. As the music plays she dances and bops to every note with a beaming smile on her face at all times. It’s clear to everyone in attendance that she loves doing what she does and we are really appreciative of this from down in the audience. I’m tired of those performers who look like they hate being onstage and this is a welcome sight to me as someone who strives to get to as many shows as possible.
They continued on in their sets with some of my own favorites like “Even The Spirits Are Afraid”, “Eleanor” and “Saturnine” and as you glanced around the audience you could see many people singing along with her. Clearly there were more original fans as opposed to those who were curious and while that’s cool, it is also a shame that more newcomers were not here to see what they are all about. After some long initial sound discrepancies you were able to indulge in the rich and moody guitar sounds of Rene Rutten who seemed drowned out by the drums and bass this evening for the larger part of the set’s beginning. This did not seem to be their sound persons fault but instead the way the venue was handling the sound. There is an open floor area and an overhang and it seemed to me that this section was sucking all the sound away at points. There is not a lot of chatter from the band or audience during a Gathering set, as instead everyone just allows them to be taken away by the sound scapes and tonight this was really proving difficult. Despite the couple of venue shortcomings the band played a very tight set of some classics and some newer material but when it came down to the time for encore they would not return which resulted in a very disappointed crowd. Either way, we still got a great bunch of songs from the group and I hope they return soon but that they hit a different club.
I had lined out that there were lowlights to the night and I am sad to bring them to the table since it was mainly on the part of the venue and no fault of the band. The room was sizable for a few hundred fans and there was some sort of upstairs lounge to kick back in but from this area you could not see the stage which was one downside. As far as the performance area itself, well it only seemed to have one air conditioner on and this was near the back bar. The general standing area by the stage was incredibly hot and the heat was everywhere and literally making the surroundings both dangerous to ones health and comfort. It was to the point of causing people to flow back and forth to where the air was actually coming from during the bands set instead of allowing them the chance to enjoy the show they had paid decent money for. Topping it all off was inconsistency in the sound the venue afforded the group with too much bottom end where it was not needed and your needing to be dead center to even appreciate the group. I can’t see myself attending another show here and hope for their own sake that these issues are worked out if they are to compete with the newly opened Gramercy Theatre and Highline Ballroom venues.
Update 6/5/2007: We are saddened to report that just under three weeks after this performance that lead singer Anneke Van Giersbergen had decided to leave The Gathering and pursue personal musical adventures of her own. She and the band each shared a statement to the world regarding this via the Internet and each explained that life and music will continue on for them. For 13 years Anneke served in this role giving memorable music to everyone while the band kept the creativity and atmosphere interesting. Those who attended this New York show reviewed above witnessed history as the last time this configuration of players would be on the same stage in this region. We wish each side the best of success and look forward to more music sooner rather than later. The Gathering is currently auditioning new singers and Anneke’s material is being prepared for release.
1. Shortest Day
2. In Between
3. Liberty Bell
4. Probably Built in the 50’s
5. Even the Spirits Are Afraid
10. In Motion #1
11. Waking Hour
12. Strange Machines
Artist: The Gathering Venue: Knitting Factory (New York, NY) Opener: Giant Squid, Unexpect Date: 3/21/2006 Label: The End Records
The Gathering is a band that was the original inspiration behind the whole Gothic Rock & Metal scene many years ago. Sadly a lot of you just read that line and mumbled “who’s The Gathering?”. Well, sometimes the case becomes that the people influenced are far more successful than those that do the influencing in the first place. Bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, who both enjoy considerable levels of acclaim Stateside are actually among the first names to come up when people think of Gothic Rock music. In this region The Gathering instead enjoy a quieter level of success appealing to only those who were turned on to them by a Friend or are up to date musically and know what comes from where. Tonight at the Knitting Factory in New York City, the band would be making what seemed to be their first appearance ever in the City and this venue while a comfortable one is hardly the size that you expect to find a band with such a level of influence to perform in. Holding only a couple of hundred people the place was not packed to the point of discomfort but I have to say that no one in the place was unaware of this band. Everyone in attendance would be a person who had a good background in the music to be performed this evening. Continue reading The Gathering @ The Knitting Factory (3/21/2006)→