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The Gathering - Always CD (album) cover


The Gathering

Experimental/Post Metal

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1 stars This first album from The Gathering is doomdeath with "beauty and the beast" type of vocals. It's totally different from everything they've done after that, and shouldn't be chosen as an introduction to this band. I recommend Theatre Of Tragedy for music of this type or Mandylion for a good starting point with The Gathering music.

Rating: 50/100

Report this review (#65393)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars Rating the first two studio-albums by THE GATHERING is a difficult thing to do. Everyone should be aware of the fact that changing the vocalist (Anneke van Giersbergen from the third album to present) transformed THE GATHERING into a completely different band. I apologize to all fans of Death-Metal and a-like, but me ... I'm sorry, I fail to be able to relate to this kind of stuff. What waits for you here is dark, heavy, with lots of those trademark male vocals (maybe growling is better a word than singing) occasionally lightened by thrown in bits of female vocals that do have a melody. If you're into this music, then check it out, because seen for what it is, it is definitely not a bad album. But if you don't dig the combination of non-melodic metal with neanderthal growls - like me - it's a waste of time. PS: -> in this specific case, the rating can cause misunderstandings, so please note that POOR, ONLY FOR COMPLETIONISTS doesn't really fit. It is not poor for the genre (seen as a stand-alone work of it's own, assuming that this is the kind of music you like, the 3 stars would not be wrong) and it is definitely not for completionists of THE GATHERING. Rating it with one star only means more like: IT'S DIFFERENT AND NOT MY CUP OF TEA
Report this review (#88157)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#93004)
Posted Monday, October 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Always..." is the debut full-length studio album by Dutch doom/death metal act The Gathering. The Gathering is probably mostly known for their female led progressive rock/ metal which they began playing on their 3rd studio album "Mandylion" from 1995. Before that they had released two doom/ death metal albums in "Always... (1992)" and "Almost a Dance (1993)".

The music on the album is doom/ death metal with some really deep and growling vocals. We also get some occasional female vocals from guest vocalist Marike Groot. Those of you who know The Gathering from "Mandylion" and onwards know that The Gathering´s music is very much centered around Anneke van Giersbergen´s beautiful vocals, but on "Always..." the female vocals are only an effect to colour the music. The Gathering make heavy use of keyboards in their music. It´s actually a very dominant feature on "Always..." and also a great asset IMO. The music on "Always..." reminds me a bit about the first two Paradise Lost albums: "Lots Paradise (1990)" and "Gothic (1991)". It is in large part due to the similar deep and brutal growling style (Bart Smits sounds a lot like Nick Holmes did in the early days) and the operatic female vocals which also appear on "Gothic". The songs are interesting in structure and we´re treated to intriguing parts in each song. The album is generally very melodic and there are some pleasant acoustic parts which is great for the dynamics of the album.

The musicianship is good even though the drums are a bit too simple and untight.

The production isn´t the best. The guitars are way too low in the mix and it affects my enjoyment with the album.

"Always..." has been a pleasant surprise to me and I really enjoy the overall atmosphere on the album despite a few flaws. A 3 star rating is warranted. "Always..." is recommended to fans of the early nineties doom/ Death metal scene which included acts like Cathedral, Anathema, My Dying Bride, Amorphis, Tiamat, Cemetary and Paradise Lost.

Report this review (#183939)
Posted Sunday, September 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have always regarded this album as one of the classics. I must have been one of the first ones in Norway who bought this album when it was released. I fell for it, big time. Twenty years later, is it any good ?

The music is somewhere between goth, doom and death metal. This was goth metal long before goth was even invented. This album therefore had a huge impact on the scene. That includes myself. The song In Sickness And Health is one I always remember. The rest is pretty good. This album has lost most of it's shine. Back when it was released; I probably would had given it five stars. Now, I can see it's failings. Or maybe I have moved on and found new horizons. I do not know. But I still think it is a good album.

I regard this album as one of the better goth metal albums. The vocals are good and the musicianship is good too. The band has moved on and that is good. I have a soft spot for this band, no matter what they do and release. This band greatly influenced myself with this album. Thank you and here is three stars for you.

3.5 stars (on reflection)

Report this review (#232193)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
2 stars Doom/Death/Goth, I sometimes feel lost amongst these terms. It's usually hard to correctly define what's what. Whatever it is, it's only partially touched by Prog elements. The most prominent track would probably be King For a Day, but bright moments like these in this song are rare as sunshine during stormy day.

Maybe some of you will remember Metal band Tristania, so even main vocals are male dominant, woman is trying to add some tricks to the singing department, unfortunately, they are badly mixed (or what) and are too weak to penetrate through. This album sounds quite like demo.

And I don't have to add that I was shocked a lot because the only other release by "The Gathering" I've heard was "A Sound Relief" and this means completely different style, few different members as well and so this caused some kind of cultural shock.

But because I've tried to be honest and gave this record a fair chance, I must say that even this is genre quite different from those that I'm used to listen, it is melodic, giving enough Prog elements to give this fair rating. I'm not sentimental, I don't have history with this CD nor I know this band for a long time and so I'm fanboy.

3(+), no, just giving this album my standard treatment.

Report this review (#282541)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink

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