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The Gathering - Mandylion CD (album) cover

MANDYLION

The Gathering

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.83 | 136 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Fifteen Years is a Long Time

The Gathering's MANDYLION is supposedly the album that launched the female-fronted metal trend that I didn't latch onto until Lacuna Coil, and which fizzled into pop culture inanity with Evanescence. As I wasn't there when this album would have seemed fresh, I don't know that I can listen to it with proper historic perspective. I can, however, judge it by how it sounds now. I can remember my excitement when Lacuna Coil was new and wonder what that would have meant 8 years earlier. And I certainly appreciate Anneke van Giersbergen's voice on Devin Townsend's ADDICTED.

But I must say that MANDYLION was pretty much a disappointment. It hasn't aged well as other bands have taken all of the ideas and run much further since 1995. The album sounds like like solid post-grunge, but I have difficulty identifying what is prog about this at all. Most of the songs are dragging mid-tempo affairs that bore me a bit. The sounds are pretty cool, though, with guitars nicely balanced between full and fuzzy distortion, plenty of atmospheric key pads, and of course Anneke's voice.

Devy said that Anneke has one of the few voices that is strong enough to carry metal and still sound feminine, and that is a very accurate assessment. Unlike many operatic or classical sounding female leads, her voice is never shrill or thin. But she doesn't have a great range, and her ability to write melodies is pretty poor. (Strangely, I find this a very common problem with female-fronted metal.) Perhaps this is why Anneke has done so well as a guest musician on other's projects.

1995 was the dark ages for the electric lead guitar, and MANDYLION reflects that. Though the rhythm guitars sound great, the leads are kept extremely space, adding little more than the key pads behind them. Similarly, though the Gathering creates a great sound (especially for the time) they don't back up the sound with memorable songwriting. There are trippy, almost Floydian moments during the bridge of "Fear the Sea," for instance, but the song itself is not memorable at all. "Eleanor" and the title song leave the strongest impression on me, but the latter more for its tribalistic sound than for its minimal composition.

Anneke is cute beyond belief and has a nice voice. The Gathering have a sound that I should just love. But even if the setting of your story is perfect, something has to happen. On MANDYLION, not enough happens. And now that the sound is no longer novel, the album's value is mainly historical.

Negoba | 2/5 |

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