|Review: The Gathering - Mandylion|
Label: Century Media
Year released: 1995
Genre: Gothic Metal
Review online: November 9, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
This was The Gathering's breakthrough album, their first with singer Anneke van Giersbergen, and in my opinion their best. The Gathering were originally a vague kind of gloomy Death Metal band, but they had been drifting further into Goth territory with each release, and "Mandylion" was where they finally ditched the growls and signed up a first-rate singer to become something different. Believe me, people noticed.
This was one of the last albums where The Gathering displayed any metal tendencies at all, and hereafter they are pretty much an alt-rock band with Gothic leanings. But here there is still metal in plenty, albeit of a rather mellow stripe. The Gathering were never about thrashing, but rather low-key, mournful, but memorable tunes with crunchy guitars. Anneke has about the perfect voice for this kind of music. She doesn't have a great range really, and technically she could be better, but she has wonderful tone, and her warm but sad voice pours over the melodies like hot apple cider. If you like her voice, as I do, this is where she sounds the best, with the possible exception of the live album "Sleepy Buildings".
Songwriting-wise there are some great songs here – like "Eleanor", "Fear The Sea" and my personal favorite "Strange Machines." But there are some songs that get pretty boring, like "Leaves" and the interminable "In Motion" two-parter. The lyrics are pretty alt-rock-college stuff that I don't really care for, but I enjoy a lot of bands who commit lyrical atrocities much worse, so I won't strike this band for it too hard.
If you are a fan of the modern school of Goth Metal – bands like Lacuna Coil and Flowing Tears – this is one of the albums that really started it, and remains an essential of the genre. It has some slow parts, but was a pioneer in its style. Recommended.
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