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The Gathering - Mandylion CD (album) cover


The Gathering


Experimental/Post Metal

3.88 | 196 ratings

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The Crow
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Mandylion was one of the most influential metal albums of the 90's. At least in Europa!

And I'm confident with my affirmation because The Gathering (and specially Mandylion) started a well-known fever of metal bands led by female voices which remains till today. The influence in gothic metal bands like Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil is obvious. But glimpses of The Gathering can be also heard in more pop-oriented bands like Evanescence, and also in metal bands like Nightwish.

The main characteristic of The Gathering's sound in this album are the strong guitar riffs, the omniscient layers of keyboards and the incredible voice of Anneke van Giersbergen, who in my opinion is the best female metal singer ever. These three elements, helped by a competent production, created a very enjoyable album despite its obvious flaws.

Mandylion starts the album wonderfully with Strange Machine, with its great riff and outstanding vocals, in a sort of symphonic gothic metal both powerful and mellow, and very elegant. The lyrics are not so great, but they accompany the music just fine with its thematic about time travel.

Eleanor is darker, more gothic and pretty negative lyrics, again with some progressive influences and a great bass line. And very gothic is also In Motion #1, an almost symphonic song with tons of keyboards and a beautiful dark atmosphere.

Leaves start with mellow guitars but soon they give way to another dark riff with the typical layer of keyboards. And at this point we can't avoid thinking that this album is a bit repetitive, but the wonderful solo of the song and its instrumental interlude make us forget that.

Fear the Sea is another competent song which talk about the fearsome waters of the ocean, helped by some hard almost- thrash metal riffs. This song contains a long instrumental part which is not very brilliant, but adds a layer of extra setting. And very atmospheric is also the title track, with ethnical percussion and beautiful vocal melodies. A very adequate song for this point of the album!

Sand and Mercury is the longest and also the most progressive track of the album. Anneke don't appear till the sixth minute! And when she appears the song transform itself into pure magic. Beautiful! And JRR Tolkien talks at the end of the song? What more could we desire?

Oh, yes? I know what I desire for this album. A powerful yet beautiful ending track, with a bit of extra melody. And In Motion #2 is exactly that! Maybe my favorite track of the entire album. Just great and with a beautiful cello!

Conclusion: Mandylion is a very good record, almost excellent. Anneke is wonderful, the production is superb and the songwriting very strong although a bit repetitive. Of course, not every prog rock lover will be able to appreciate its quality and influence over the years. But if you like gothic rock, alternative metal and female voices, this album with fulfill all your expectations.

Best Tracks: Strange Machines, Eleanor, Leaves, Sand and Mercury, In Motion #2. But not a single weak song can be found here!

My rating: ****

The Crow | 4/5 |


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