The Gathering – The West Pole (2009)

the gathering - the west pole

The Gathering – The West Pole (2009, Season Of Mist/Psychonaut Records)

  1. When Trust Becomes Sound
  2. Treasure
  3. All You Are
  4. The West Pole
  5. No Bird Call
  6. Capitol Of Nowhere
  7. You Promised Me A Symphony
  8. Pale Traces
  9. No One Spoke
  10. A Constant Run

Band Lineup:
Silje Wergeland  – Vocals & Piano
René Rutten – Guitars
Marjolein Kooijman – Bass
Hans Rutten – Drums
Frank Boeijen – Keyboards & Piano

Producer: René Rutten

Country: The Netherlands

Total Time = 54:17

The Gathering
The Gathering MySpace page
Psychonaut Records
Season Of Mist Records

Sometime in early 1998 I discovered The Gathering through a Century Media CD sampler. the song was ‘In Motion #1’ from the band’s 1995 record MANDYLION. I fell in love with the heavy and melodic music and the beautiful singing of Anneke van Giersbergen, it was a new style of Metal for me. Turns out that female fronted Metal bands would start forming all over the world and now we have bands like Lacuna Coil, Stream Of Passion and Epica carrying on where The Gathering began. Then again, The Gathering had two previous album that were more Death/Doom Metal with a male singer so I was completely confused. I got online shortly after I got the sampler and I found out about the band’s then current album NIGHTTIME BIRDS (1997) and I was hooked on The Gathering. I have followed the band ever since but I have been disappointed with the band’s output for over a decade… the band continued to release new material, the music became more ambient, more progressive, more Pink Floyd-ish and the core Metal sound took a backseat. I’ll be honest, I got so fed up by the band’s evolving Floydian sound that I actually stopped buying their albums after 2000’s if_then_else.

What made me come back to The Gathering was the change at the vocal position: Anneke van Giersbergen has left the band to pursue a solo career and former Octavia Sperati singer Silje Wergeland has taken over. Sometimes a change in vocalists is good for giving the music a fresh start and I decided to give the band a fresh listen. When I put THE WEST POLE in the stereo the first track, ‘When Truth Becomes Sound’, turned out to be heavy (compared later to the rest of the album) and an almost 4 minute instrumental. I figured this was a great start and when I heard Wergeland’s vocals on ‘Treasure’ I knew that the band had picked a solid replacement for the popular Giersbergen. As THE WEST POLE continued, the problem for me was that the songs basically took the same route: slow or mid-tempo pace, an atmospheric/progressive/trippy sound and plenty of beautiful vocals…..they all sounded the same! It wasn’t until the 9th song, ‘No One Spoke’, that the pace quickened and the guitars got a little heavier but there were subdued parts of this song as well. I liked the uptempo ‘A Constant Run’ also because it harkened back to the band’s mid to late ’90s sound the most.

Bottom Line:
Obviously The Gathering has found their niche in the crowded Gothic Metal scene by continuing to push their unique atmospheric, Pink Floyd influenced music. I decided that I would give the band a fresh listen in the hopes that there was something heavy contained within THE WEST POLE but I am still disappointed because I was hoping for a little more uptempo and Metal. Most of the album is slow and and mid-tempo with the band concentrating on the “quieter” side of Gothic Metal. The songs are really good, well-written and performed beautifully, but they all seem to sound the same after a while. The good news is that The Gathering have definitely found themselves a high quality singer in Silje Wergeland, she can easily handle any Giersbergen-era song because she has an extremely similar voice. There were times that I noticed no difference at all between the two. I’ve given this a lot of spins over the last few weeks and there really isn’t much that will bring me back in the future save for maybe a couple of songs.

Favorite Songs:
The standout tracks for me coincidentally are the last three songs on the album: ‘Pale Traces’, ‘No One Spoke’, ‘A Constant Run’. Too bad the band saved them for last because I think they might have helped break up the monotony in the middle of the album.