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Gathering, The - Nighttime Birds

Gathering, The -  CD Review
Nighttime Birds
CD Info
Century Media
9 Tracks:
English lyrics

This was always going to be a difficult one for The Gathering. Having set the metal world alight with the release of Mandylion, they had to follow it up with something equally good, or better, or do what a lot of bands do if they're worried about not meeting their own standards – change their direction completely. The Gathering's change of direction was certainly on the cards, but at least they put out Nightttime Birds before going all experimental on us.

This album is very similar to Mandylion with the added exception that it's basically not as good. However, that doesn't mean it's a bad work - it isn't, and those who've heard it before Mandylion generally prefer it. So what's lacking? Well, there's certainly nothing wrong with the singing, it's just that the songs aren't quite as impressive as before, and if I was going to be really argumentative [like I generally am] I'd say it wasn't as well produced. Nevertheless, the album starts off wonderfully with On Most Surfaces, a brilliantly heavy number with Anneke's voice sliding everywhere her register will let her, ditto the next, Confusion, which is probably my favorite on the album - she just sounds wonderful, but for many people, Anneke IS The Gathering, probably more so than the songs the band produce.

After the first two tracks things start to slope a little - The Earth Is My Witness; New Moon, Different Day and Kevin's Telescope are all distinctly average songs that really don't do much for the album - they're the musical equivalent of water biscuits - bland and really quite boring, but The Gathering have their moments of coming out with these dull tracks. It does get better though, Third Chance is a nicely paced, energetic number; the title track is good, although the intro reminds me of a tune played by a busker I once saw in Bristol, and Shrink is a beautiful double-vocalled piano number [a harmony of which Cristina from Lacuna Coil once sung live and mercilessly crucified].

Nighttime Birds is definitely a success, though. Yes, it does have its moments of being a little flat, but when it's good, it can do wonderful things. There are a few tracks that will always stand out as being greats, but The Gathering had already made a whole album full of these, and unfortunately there's only one way you can go from perfection.