The Gathering - _Mandylion_
(Century Media, 1995)
by: Gino Filicetti (
Beginning their life as a 'primitive, Celtic Frost inspired, death metal band' according to their bio, The Gathering have come a long way since their inception in 1989. Continuing with the new direction of softer, more melodic metal that began with 1993's _Almost a Dance_, The Gathering have made a major leap forward with regards to their music on _Mandylion_, their latest offering to the gods. This album is the first that features the sole vocal abilities of Anneke van Giersbergen. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this woman has the hands down best voice that I've ever heard in a metal band. The difference that sets Anneke out from the rest of the femme vox currently singing with some outfits is the fact that she is the lead singer, her vocals dominating throughout. The music on this release is very melodic and very heavy in the same breath. Keyboards have a strong presence in The Gathering's music which makes for a great atmosphere within the songs. The tempo on this record never reaches the red-line, but then again, it wouldn't flow properly if it did. An alternative influence (!) can be heard in songs like, "Fear The Sea". Another notable mention is the title track, "Mandylion", which is an instrumental song featuring tribal beats with trippy flute parts. Definitely not something for the heaviest of heavy metal fans, but if you like to experiment, and especially if femme vox do for you what they do for me, this is the album for you.
(article published 2/9/1996)
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