The Gathering is an interesting band. I was first introduced to them in the late 1990s. They were signed to Century Media records, a label that was fast becoming one of my favorites with its impressive roster of metal bands. Then there was The Gathering, a band that is decidedly not metal. Still, there they were, appearing on the label's low cost samplers called Identity, an annual series collecting singles from a number of their bands marketed as a cheap way to get a hold of some new music. There nestled The Gathering among the likes of Iced Earth, Moonspell, Arch Enemy, Rotting Christ, Emperor, Katatonia, and Nevermore. To say they stood out like a sore thumb with their lush melodic arrangements and soaring female vocals would be an understatement.
I was initially attracted to their sound. I picked up their fifth album, How to measure a planet?. I liked it, but it did not turn out to be an album I would listen too all that much and I never did pick up any more of their albums, until know. I was given the opportunity to give the band's latest, West Pole, a spin and I decided to revisit them. After all, it has been a long time and my tastes have grown and changed a lot since my initial exposure.
Upon first listen, I have to say this is a really good album. There is something about the composition and song structure that is absolutely beautiful. The songs are simple and sparse, yet complex and lush. It is something that you need to hear. Now, for as good as it is it should be said that this is no masterpiece, no musical landmark that will change the way you listen to anything going forward. The crux of the matter is that what it does, it does well. The music may be a little to the laid back side, but there seems to be a drive to deliver a memorable experience. In this respect, The Gathering succeeds.