This week marked the 21st anniversary of the release of The Gathering “Mandylion”album. I missed the 20th anniversary last year but later than never no?
The Gathering is a dutch gothic metal band formed in the early 1990s. You may not know them but you may know Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gentle Storm). Yep, that the first band in Anneke career and what I can tell with Anneke on board that this band has experienced a lot. A lot that they went from full doom metal in their freshman album “Always” (with Bart Smits as the growl front singer) into full progressive and acoustic rock before their breakup.
Why I love this album? Maybe because it was the first album that dove me into female-fronted metal, maybe because it was the way I got introduced to the band (special thanks for Jean-Roch R. about this), maybe it was the nice guitar solo ballads mixed with the keyboards, maybe it was listening to Anneke.
For many reasons, I feel “Mandylion” and the next album “Nighttime Birds” the best albums. I got into it via their only videoclip of this album “Leaves”. Love at first sight! Back then iTunes was just released and finding a physical copy of the album was almost impossible. So I got into it via Napster and MP3 sharing.
Considering the release of the album in 1995, it is still impressive that after 20 years it still sound fresh and accessible. There are several nice tracks, starting with “Strange Machines” (the first song of the album) using footage of the movie “H.G.Wells Time Machine”, nicely blending Anneke’s voice with bass shredding. My second love is “Eleanor” that starts with keyboards and nicely begin with a guitar and bass, followed by Anneke. It starts mellow and then ramp up in speed. I like it so much I refer as the classical “The Gathering” style. The interesting part of the album is “In Motion #1” coming in the middle of the album and its ending part “In Motion #2”, but also pure instrumental track such as “Mandylion” and “Sand & Mercury”.
This album is in my opinion one of these album that were like preparing the metal scene with the arrival of FFM bands and the first generation of female metal singers including Tarja Turunen (Nightwish, Finland), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation, Netherlands), Liv Kristin (Theatre of Tragedy, Norway) and Cristina Scabbier (Lacuna Coil, Italy) and Europe launch the invasion of FFM bands worldwide with a new wave of gothic metal that will quickly evolve into Symphonic metal, propelled by Therion “Theli”.
If you have to pick one album from their discography, it should be this one. A timeless masterpiece of the band.
As a treat, I posted the video of “Leaves”, note it is an edited version of the album. It is interesting to see Anneke back in her beginning.