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The Gathering - Mandylion CD (album) cover

MANDYLION

The Gathering

Experimental/Post Metal


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cloudwulfe@ya
4 stars This is the album in which I fell in love with this band, after hearing what is still one of my all- time favourite songs - "In Motion #1".

In this album the band made the transition from a basic Death Metal sound to a beautiful Gothic-Progressive-Metal blend. Many bands have since attempted to create similar albums, but this is truly a one-of-a kind. Newcomer Anneke van Giersbergen delivers her haunting and sad lyrics with such a power and intensity that the words are actually FELT rather than heard. Also present are some heavy riffes, nice guitar solos, epic synths and an eery atmosphere. Unlike other Prog Metal albums, the songs here rely on emotion and layered song structure, instead of skillful playing, which might disappoint some listeners, but appeal to others. Hence, I gave it the 4/5.

All in all - a fine album, although the band has since produced albums which were much more sophisticated, mature, and interesting. Way to go, guys !

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#34929)
Posted Friday, May 06, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars What only 4 reviews on this great album?

This is onr of those albums that allways stays in your mind. Sometimes i just suddenly remember a song from it even though i havent heard it in a month or so and then i just gotta listen to that song and then i end up listening to the whole album over and over again.

I first got introduced to The Gathering when i was listening to a hard rock/metal radio show where they every week play a "Song greater than life" and then one day they played Sand and Mercury and i loved it so much i ordered the album the next day. I cant really rate every song for itself because the album just flows on and is very emotional and powerfull. You really feel every song and this record has become one of my all time favourites.

The beautiful singing of Anneke van Giersbergen is really amazing. And dont expect any light blazing fast solos one this one. The music is pretty riff based and not really that technical, but with alot of emotion.

I highly recommend this album!!

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Send comments to Marwin (BETA) | Report this review (#57612)
Posted Wednesday, November 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first album I bought from this band. It simply blew in my face as I heard the songs one after the other. The music is really powerful, mid-paced metal with occasional fast- paced tempo changes. The vocals are awesome: at the same time very powerful and emotional.

"Strange Machines" and "Eleanor" set up the pace, before the best song on the album, "In Motion #1" - the band delivers an amazing performance both musically and vocally on this song, which could explain maybe why there is a "In Motion #2" on the album. The mid-part with "Leaves" and "Fear The Sea" is maybe the weakest part of the album, but things are back to the highest level with the last three songs. "Mandylion" is a nice mellow instrumental, followed by the epic "Sand And Mercury" and the reprise "In Motion #2".

Rating: 91/100

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Send comments to zaxx (BETA) | Report this review (#65401)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the third album by the Dutch progressive metal band "The Gathering". I don't know how exactly the last work by this band is. I read that this band used to be kind of a death-metal band. In their last album there was also a woman, so I guess their last release was a blend of rough death-metal vocals and female vocals.

Now, in "Mandylion", the whole vocal part was taken on by the new vocalist "Anneke van Giersbergen", a fantastic vocalist. She is definitely one reason for the emotional deep music behind "The Gathering", with her impressive and soulful vocals. With her female style and the eldritch synthesizer and sounds in the background, the heavy powerchords by the guitar this is a fantastic progressive-gothic-metal album. This reminds me of the German progressive-metal band "Dark Suns". On their first album, they had a death-metal style, but then turned with their second album "Existence" to a progressive-gothic-metal band with harmonic vocals.

The music is heavy riff based, with spooky synthesizer, good drums, varied percussion, acoustic guitars and the high, soulful vocals. The vocals and the heavy riffs (typical progressive-metal sounding) are the most important signatures for the atmospheric music of "The Gathering".

So, if you like atmospheric, gothic music with a great feeling, you should get this album! Really, a WONDEFUL album!

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Send comments to W.Chuck (BETA) | Report this review (#65852)
Posted Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A friend of mine gave me this album one year ago, because she got tired of it and when i asked to her if i could listen to it a couple of times, she decided to give it to me, and that was good, because i enjoy this album. The Gathering is a Ducth band of progressive metal , i thin this is not a clearly example of what prog metal is, but it has its moments, it sounds a bit like Lacuna Coil, maybe because i find pretty similar the incredible voices of Anneke van Gieerbersen ( you can also hear her voice in Ayreon`s Into the Electric Castle, she is "The Egyptian"), and Cristina Scabbia, but i think tha music could be similar too, but in other ways are different.

This album is good, i enjoy to listen to it, but maybe could be a bit boring, i think some of the songs have similar tempos and similar guitar work in the most of the songs, one good point is that the songs are performed with emotion and thats great because the music change for better when it has emotional sound. I like the atmospheric synths in some songs, it is a good point for this metal band, and another good thing is the instrumental tracks, Mandylion starting with a great flute, and maybe with some medieval influences, and for me the best song is Sand and Mercury, an almost 10 minute song, which mix metal with good changes in time and tempo, and a nice music around the song. Im lucky to have this album, i think it is good, i recommend it to you, but of course if you are expecting for keyboards and strong guitars ound and solos, this is not the choice, but you can try it, maybe it could like you. For this reasons im going to give it 3 stars!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#75846)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
pixiesurfer@h
4 stars quite emotional, and so deeply on their thoughts, certeanly a complete turn to all that i heard before in a so called metal pro band, the adittion in the line up of anneke, make of the gathering a band with truly acttitude and streng in their interpretations, changing, preconcive notions ´bout what a metal voice and band has to be.

Forward in their history the metal sound was given pass to another most prog and pop sounds, but the essence of a band who like to experiment and surprise themself was done much earlier.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#85012)
Posted Friday, July 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars To me, this is the album with which THE GATHERING truly begin. The addition of ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN as the new vocalist completely changed the band's direction. One might debate whether their first two records have anything to do with PROG. Now with the third one I guess this is no longer the question.

There are outstanding vocal performances to be found here as well as a collection of great songs. The guitar is still alowed to add power riffs (which I really miss a lot on later efforts like SOUVENIRS or HOME). Put it all together and you get a quite unique blend of deep atmosphere and beautiful melodies. Most of the tracks have what it takes to become a classic within THE GATHERING repertoire.

While I can absolutely recommend this album, I should maybe explain why I can not give it a 5-star rating. Oh, don't get me wrong, I can understand anyone who gives it full points. Only from the musicians point of view, I find myself waiting for some more elaborated instrumental additions ... ooops, maybe even a ... solo? This is not a mistake really. The focus of the album is atmosphere, created by this fantastic voice and supported by arrangements that are a bit stripped down to basics in order not to disturb the mood but rather to enhance it. The formula works almost perfectly, as it does on the following NIGHTIME BIRDS and HOW TO MEASURE A PLANET. This is the triad of CDs for which I like them the most.

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Send comments to Waylander (BETA) | Report this review (#88162)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've only started listen to The Gathering rather recently. I actually started off with "Downfall: The Early Years", which contains two live casette's that are pre- "Always", and several single versions. (The album strangely isn't listed here on Progarchives :/ ) After a while, I got my paws on "Home", and what a difference it was! I grew more curious to "Mandylion" for it was supposed to be the pioneer of gothic metal, a wave where bands such as WITHIN TEMPTATION, AFTER FOREVER, EVANESCENCE and EPICA still ride on sucessfully.

The album starts out powerfully with "Strange Machines". Beautiful vocals accompanied with heavy guitars, and even some bells. Somewhere I get the feeling The Gathering is a lot about atmosphere...and though I've heard more albums along the lines of Mandylion, this one still sticks out for me a bit. It's got a special symphonic feel to it...but it's deep, mysterious. Not with an overall sadness to it, like Evanescence.

Eleanor is my favorite song of the album. The keyboards really give me goosebumps here. It starts off very atmospheric, and slower than the previous song. Around halfway it turns instrumental, with switching guitar riffs and keyboard tunes. The guitar "solo" after is yet another atmospheric piece, though not the usual singing guitar, but somewhat darker and more metal-y.

In Motion #1 has a very pleasant use of keyboards for me. They sound rather optimistic and mysterious at the same time. The guitar solo on this one is more what I'm used to, and thus quite beautiful.

Leaves starts off and ends softer, and overall fails to impress me as much as Eleanor and In Motion #1 did. I'm not sure why, sorry.

Fear The Sea is a great song it reminds me more of bands like THRESHOLD and PAGAN'S MIND, but with female vocals. Again it has a great feel of mystery to it, and again halfway through the song, the instrumental part with the keyboard "alert" give me goosebumps. The bass is lovely to listen to as well.

The title track Mandylion starts off rather mid-eastern with a flute (charming snakes, Anneke?). The drum use is also quite mid-eastern, maybe even a bit tribal. Apart from Anneke's chanting here and there, it's an instrumental song, and very atmospheric. A nice way to calm down after a swim in the sea.

Sand And Mercury is a 10-minute song and the album's "epic", somewhat. It's a very nice song to listen to, with lots of different things to keep one interested. Personally I'm not a fan of songs that reach over 10 minutes, but this one I can listen to. :)

The album ends with In Motion #2, which, after Sand And Mercury, fails to impress me that much, but it's still a good song. Not much else to say there.

In conclusion? Well, definately a decent progmetal album. I really like the added "mysterious" and atmospheric feel to it, unlike some bands that focus more on speed and/or the metal aspect. Love this album, really I do. I will give it 4 stars, since I'm not a total die-hard The Gathering fan, and this album has no other significance to me. Other than that, a real gem. :)

Yours, Tailscent

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Send comments to Tailscent (BETA) | Report this review (#88998)
Posted Tuesday, September 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is a beautiful piece of work. The spacey keyboards, heavy riffs, and of the amazing vocals of Anneke (sigh) create a beautiful atmosphere that has made this one of THE GATHERING's best records.This is the first album that Anneke sang on after joining the band. There's something about the way this one was recorded that really makes it sound atmospheric. "Mandylion" refers to the" Image not made by the hand of man : it has been obtained by the direct impression of the Christ's face on the fabric".

The first song "Strange Machines" has samples on it taken from the film "The Time Machine". The idea of this song as well was taken from the novel of the same name by H.G.Wells.This one of my favs on this record. It opens with grinding guitars and riffs as drums then vocals comes in. Some heaviness 2 minutes in, followed by spacey synths as riffs continue.The guitar from the intro is back before 5 minutes. Nice. Synths and riffs end it. "Eleanor" is another heavy atmospheric song with some nice bass. We get some outbursts of thunderous drumming as well.

"In Motion #1" is all about Anneke's vocals really. Another highlight is the guitar before 4 1/2 minutes that goes on and on. "Leaves" opens with some cool atmosphere followed by vocals and slow riffs. I also really like "Fear The Sea" with it's powerful riffs and nice spacey synths. I also like the guitar around the 3 minute mark, they get crunchy after 5 minutes. "Mandylion" is quite different from the other songs. The drumming is light, and the heavy riffs are absent. The flutes help to create a beautiful atmosphere. No lyrics but there are some vocal melodies and lots of synths. Another highlight is "Sand And Mercury" it's all instrumental for about 6 minutes, it has just about everything in it. "In Motion #2" opens with vocals right away. This is mid-paced with a heavy undercurrent. Synths after 2 minutes.

Highly recommended to those into the heavier side of music.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#89658)
Posted Thursday, September 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beautiful. The first Gathering-album with the great female singer Anneke van Giersbergen. It was 1995.. who would know that other bands like 'Within Temptation' and 'Nightwish' would profit from so much inspiration because of this classic album? The songs are very melodic, dramatic, haunting and loud. It's very riff-based music. No real solo's, no complicated fireworks, but very atmospheric, dark passages. After a little while, you will really love the songs and Anneke's beautiful, trained voice. Eléanor, Fear The Sea and In Motion #2 are the best tracks on the album. This band only made 1 follow-up in this style. In 1998, they started to make more experimental, modern music. This remains their most popular recording, although I still believe this band does not get it's support they deserve.

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Send comments to ProgRob (BETA) | Report this review (#92144)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although "Mandylion" is the third studio album from The Gathering, it is the first album with vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen and so it can be fairly seen as the "real" debut of The Gathering as we know them.

By the time it came out, "Mandylion" was quite a unique effort in its combination of heavy rock / metal and a female singer just singing, rather than screaming or growling. It's not exactly gothic metal, but it clearly has some roots in gothic and even more clearly it's a highly influential album on the whole female-dominated gothic metal wave that would come a few years later (Nightwish et. al.).

More relevant than its historic importance is the quality of the music and yes, the music is excellent. From the opener 'Strange machines', which as a single even saw some minor commercial success and the heavy 'Eléanor' (still my favourite Gathering-song) to more dreamy songs like 'Leaves' and the epic 'Sand and mercury', the album plays as one long masterpiece, even though one slightly minor track is present ('Fear the sea') and even though the instrumental title track is really different in style from the other songs.

The Gathering would develop themselves further with every next album (only two albums to go and the label 'metal' would no longer be appropriate), which is a main reason why I like them as much as I do. Still, this Anneke-debut is my favourite.

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Send comments to Casartelli (BETA) | Report this review (#113373)
Posted Saturday, February 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Superb album by this dutch band. First with Anneke van Giersbergen, and a big improvement over the previous 2. More symphonuc with stunning key passages. One of my fav albums from the '90. Whwn the album apear in 1995, Mandylion was quite a unique effort in its combination of heavy rock / metal and a female singer just singing, rather than screaming or growling, made this album very strong and even today is mention in many magazins ore among musicians and listners as one of the most important album in prog music and in the '90. Without doubt the best The Gathering album. All tracks are super but, the strange and very intristing piece named Mandylion is superb, with tambourines and flutes and keys made this track to sound beyond ear candy, and another one that must be mention is Sand and mercury the longest and with title track the best from here. So if you don't have this gem go and get it, 5 stars without hesitation. A masterpiece of prog metal, and music in general.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#141942)
Posted Thursday, October 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars As a prog-fan, we've all taken chances on groups we've never heard of prior to investigating places like Prog Archives. Sometimes they pay off in a big way... and others leave you scratching your head wondering if you're listening to the same album that your fellow reviewers are.

Madylion definitely falls into the latter.

It's hard to even start explaining why this album fails so utterly to impress, but I can save you time by saying that tempos, timbre, guitar, melodies, rhythms, and vocals sound the same if scanned across every track... Madylion is 54 minutes of banality. Songwriting is un-ambitious, taking the listener no where special then leaving them wondering why exactly their waiting around. The heavy, guitar chugging of Wiersma is amateurish and devoid of any creativity-- often chugging the same, slow-tempo note as if bored and confused what to do next. Drums are even worse, and the two of them together make up the most boring and unexciting performance I've heard in a long time.

The atmospheric passages, led by Boeijen's keyboards, are useless, being neither especially interesting nor well integrated into the dominant sound of this albums heavy, ponderous, plodding metal.

Vocals are the nail in the coffin. The Gathering's shtick is obviously their female lead singer Giersbergen (since musicianship certainly isn't a big draw), and she utterly fails to impress. Her range is poor, as is her enthusiasm. Her sound is as slowly plodding as the instrumentalists; lyrics trite and forgettable; and predominant, noisy sustains wear on the listeners patience like few singers are capable of. There are plenty of good female singers-- and she isn't one of them.

Sorry to be hatin' so much in this review, but Madylion is terrible and I want to save you the money I wasted taking a chance on it. It's uncreative, heavy-handed, and captivating only for its unparalleled ability to bore the listener into frustration.

Songwriting: 1 Instrumental Performances: 1 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#209430)
Posted Tuesday, March 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Mandylion" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Dutch doom/goth metal act The Gathering. The album was released through Century Media Records in August 1995. There´s been a very important change in the lineup since the release of The Gathering´s second full-length studio album "Almost A Dance (1993)" as male lead vocalist Niels Duffhues has been replaced by female lead vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen. This would have a major impact on the band´s future sound and consequently also on their popularity. The addition of Anneke van Giersbergen to the lineup meant that The Gathering suddenly sounded very original for the time. You won´t find many doom/death metal releases from 1995 featuring a female lead vocalist. For the most part female vocals were used for effect by the band´s contemporaries, and only in short sections or on specific tracks on an album. So instead of being reduced to a footnote in the history of the early nineties doom/death metal scene, forever being overshadowed by acts such as Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, The Gathering branched out and tried something different. And they succeeded.

The instrumental part of the music on "Mandylion" has changed quite a bit since "Almost A Dance (1993)" too and has become much more accessible, memorable and melodic. Anneke van Giersbergen´s distinct, powerful and emotional vocal style brings a much needed improvement to the sound of the The Gathering. She is arguably one of the most unique sounding female vocalists in metal. The music is heavy and doomy at times but always with melodic vocal lines and dominant melodic keyboards courtesy of the very skilled keyboard player Frank Boeijen. The song structures are fairly simple for the most part, but the band almost always have a little section or detail up their sleeve to spice things up.

The sound production is grand and suits the music well, the musicianship are on a high level, and the songwriting is memorable, so all in all "Mandylion" is a quality release. The first part of the album with tracks like "Strange Machines", "Eléanor" and "In Motion #1", is especially strong, while the last part of the album is slightly less interesting, but still entertaining. Overall a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#229867)
Posted Tuesday, August 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Mandylion is an album that has been a true companion from the moment it was released. I often return to it, not only because it moves me every time, but also because it serves as a touchstone that can be used to test many styles of rock music against.

Let's start with the vocals, the most obvious asset of this Dutch doom metal outfit. For me, Anneke Van Giersbergen vocals are the most expressive, commanding and beautiful vocals ever to grace a rock album. On later albums she would become more versatile but here she is in full epic glory. Yet she sings so gracefully and spontaneous, never straining her voice, never overdoing it. She's pure emotion and melody. Her vocals are the benchmark for any vocalist attempting this style.

The rest of the band is much criticized here. Obviously they do not attempt anything that demands advanced studies in musical proficiency, but that is not the issue I'd say. The point these guys are making here is how their instruments can be applied to maximize the perfection of the songs.

Don't get me wrong. Most of the music I listen to has a high musical complexity, but for me the emphasis on serving musicianship here gives a refreshing view that will filter out all self-important bragging from my CD collection. Not only that. It also works in the opposite direction. Not much 'easy' rock music works for me, so whoever wants to impress me with basic chord progressions will have Mandylion's standard to live up to.

This is one of my all-time favourite mood-albums. Not sure though if I should give it 5 stars. For the progressive rock fan, the more diverse If Then Else from 2000 might be more interesting.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#247974)
Posted Tuesday, November 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#368197)
Posted Thursday, December 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars The perfect female fronted goth progressive metal album in my view.

I was around when the band distributed a tape in the underground. You did not have to be particular clever to understand that this band had massive potential. A potential they have not entirely fulfilled in my view due to some strange decissions and change of vocalists. The scene also became overcrowded with The Gathering copycats and the band lost their thunder to bands like Nightwish. It is always a shame when the originals loose out to copycats.

Mandylon has everything. Excellent vocals from the right vocalist for the right songs. Excellent songs. Great use of the right instruments. Excellent sound. I cannot fault a single song here. That even after been listening to this album from the day it was released. I always comes back to this album, time after time (and I was very surprised to find out I had yet to submit a review).

The songs are both dramatic, heavy and sometimes tender. The guitars underlines the heaviness. The keyboards adds spice + add some tenderness when required. This album is a pretty heavy album and one in Richard Wagner's spirit. Just like what prog metal is all about in my view.

The perfect prog metal album in my view and miles ahead of their competitors in the female fronted division. Eleanor is the best song on an album without any chinks in it's armour.

5 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#499149)
Posted Sunday, August 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Now, this is gothic metal I can get behind. On the one hand you have the vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen, whose approach on this album is quite reminiscent of Julianne Regan's work in the great All About Eve, and on the other hand, you have a musical backing which often attains the same sort of wistful atmosphere as All About Eve - but through chunky, doomy riffs instead of hippified goth rock.

Put them together, and you create an intriguing blend which steers away from straight-ahead doom metal by virtue of its alternative rock and goth rock influences. As far as gothic metal goes, Mandylion is the first album I ever heard which really succeeded at fusing what I enjoy about goth rock - the brooding romanticism and emotional rawness - with a metal approach which supports and nurtures those factors. Great stuff.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#622104)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2012 | Review Permalink

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