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The Gathering - Always CD (album) cover


The Gathering


Experimental/Post Metal

2.54 | 60 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars Well, I typed up my long review and in a connection lag while posting, it was all lost. Just goes to show one should always copy it before attempting to post. I'll try to recapture what I've written before, but don't expect much.

My first The Gathering purchases were "Home" (2006) and "Downfall: The Early Years" (2001). Now "Downfall" is their two demo tapes (cassettes) and three songs from "Always..." that appeared on sampler singles. The single versions are different from the ones on this album. In fact, those singles got me curious about this album. I had the two extremes of the band, and later on I got the third; "Mandylion", the roots of gothic metal we know today. I thought it was time to purchase two new albums lately: "Nighttime Birds" and "Always...". The latter pleasantly surprised me...

I'll admit I don't like grunts. Bands like WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER and EPICA could easily do without, I think. Same reason why I don't like bands such as OPETH and SCAR SYMMETRY. This album, though, was and still is a pleasant listen. What we have here is doommetal, actually my first ever doommetal experience. The grunts don't bother me much, the female vocals are a nice touch, the heavy riffs are not too heavy, and the keyboards create this doomy atmosphere that really sounds appealing to me. A word of warning, though...if you don't like the first two songs, you should press the stop button and put away the CD. It won't change. :) Hence why I wouldn't recommend this as an intro for The Gathering. If anything, it's a record of how they started off, as a doommetal band. As such, I'm not going to compare it to metal bands, later albums of The Gathering, or anything else. I'm treating this as "Always...", which it is.

It starts off with piano on "The Mirror Waters". "Subzero" starts off with more tempo, but slows down into a gloomy solo near the ending.

"In Sickness And Health" was a single version on "Downfall" and remains one of my favorite songs off the album. Plenty of variety to work with, and I've just fallen in love with the keys. "King For A Day" is also one of my favorites, featuring female vocals, and a stunning heartbeat pause in the middle. I really fancy that approach.

"Second Sunrise" and "Stonegarden" are both softer, more doomy songs. I like "Stonegarden" more, if just for the keyboards and female vocals. "Always..." follows, and is a short 2 minute instrumental track with no guitars at all. It probably serves as an intro for the album's final song "Gaya's Dream", as they were both included as singles on "Downfall". "Gaya's Dream", like "In Sickness And Health", is a song with a lot of variety. You can really go anywhere with it. Also one of my favorite songs.

Conclusion? It's a good album in its own right. People might not expect this approach, though. Even fans of the current The Gathering, or in the times of "Mandylion" may not like this. It's best to listen with an open mind, and not comparing it with other The Gathering releases other than "Downfall". You might be surprised like me, or you might run in terror. ;) In any case, 4 stars from me, as I'm really enjoying this as a stand- alone album. ^^

Yours, Tailscent

Tailscent | 4/5 |


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