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Gathering, The - Souvenirs

Gathering, The -  CD Review
CD Info
Psychonaut Records
10 Tracks:
English lyrics

I'd only just learned that The Gathering weren't one hundred per cent happy with being with Century Media. Now, bands generally get displeased with their labels for the same reason - they don't let them do what they want. And now The Gathering have broken free of the virtual chains that they feel were placed around them, they can 'express themselves properly', if you get my drift.

If you've been paying attention, you'll know that The Gathering's style has evolved since 1998 and How To Measure A Planet? into what the band semi-innovatively called 'triprock'. This is music of a heaviness that occupies territory somewhere between rock and somewhere between metal, but can't really make it's mind up which it wants to be. Mix this in with a few wannabe breakbeats inspired by listening to numerous Portishead tracks and later Radiohead and you have, well, you have triprock, I suppose.

Up till now I'd always thought it was a little ostentatious of The Gathering to think their more recent style was unique enough to be given it's own name, because it wasn't really special enough. However, at long last I'm starting to see where they thought they were going. I mean, with Souvenirs they've actually got somewhere. This album is eerie, sometimes chilled, sometimes ferocious with whirling, thumping basses. In fact, it's the best there is, but then it would be, because no-one else is doing this kind of stuff. Maybe soon we'll see another band running off with triprock and turning it into something better, but for now, Souvenirs is as good as it gets.

What's interesting is that now instead of just sticking this in your CD player and getting to like it after the first few beats, you probably won't. It needs a bit more time. Still, that may be the intention since The Gathering obviously consider themselves to be serious enough musicians to make music that is not instantly likeable. But once you have spent some time with Souvenirs, you'll see the light shining through - You Learn About It, Monsters, Golden Grounds, and We Just Stopped Breathing are all wonderful tracks, but they're so different from early Gathering as to be almost incomparable. You Learn About It is probably the most accessible of the bunch - it's quite slow and clean sounding and sounds like a number by The Cranberries more than anything else. Monster's grating bassline whoops and loops all over the place, and the chorus is fabulous, whilst Golden Grounds cannot be matched for it's atmosphere. The rest of the album takes a little longer to grow - but it will, as long as we drop preconceptions of what we think The Gathering should be, then we can appreciate the brilliance of this record.

Souvenirs is, thankfully, a good recovery from the pretentious wankfest that was Black Light District. The Gathering for a while were in danger of being a little over inspired, but they've certainly landed on their feet. This is - literally - triprock at it's best, and Anneke sounds wonderful as always. In fact, some of its not even triprock, which is probably why it's so good. Personally, I'd have liked the album to be a little heavier, but we can't have everything. Which is something I've only come to learn recently with this band.