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Gathering, The: A Sound Relief (DVD)

The microphone was decorated with flowers.

That isn't a silly, glib comment - that observation defines so much about the band, and this DVD.

In their early days The Gathering was one of the first acts to combine male grunting with ethereal female vocals in what we now call the beauty and the beast format. Over time the band mellowed, dropping the grunts, then toning down the heaviness, and along the way The Gathering became the standard by which other female-fronted metal acts were judged - and it is arguable that their success spawned Evanencence, a commercially successful American look-alike. Over time the music became more refined and complex with a foot in the progressive camp, they acquired a new bassist in Marjolein Kooijman, one of the few woman bassists in the business, they released the all-acoustic Sleepy Buildings, Anneke got pregnant, and the death, goth, and metal labels slowly faded away.

This DVD represents the culmination of 15 years of success - but don't expect any of the earlier heaviness here. This DVD is the recording of a high class, perfectly delivered, low-intensity concert. Most of the songs are from How To Measure a Planet and Souvenirs albums, and the arrangements are melodic and laid back and elegant. The bonus CD contains an interview, a review of the band's history (Dutch with English sub-titles), several songs played over so-so animations, and most important, a 35 minute on-tour piece with vignettes showing the band on the road. There's a lot of fun and light hearted silliness, giving an important insight into the band's collective personality. They come across as the kids next door, and there's no evidence of hard-rockers' drink or drugs, none of the stereotyped 'metal' behaviors.

The main DVD is a concert played at the Paradiso in Amsterdam. The band played the same set twice, wearing the same clothes, in the same day - and selected the best clips from the two shows. There were multiple cameras and the viewing angles are generally good - there's the inevitable focus on Anneke's singing, but there are also a fair number of close-ups on the other band members. Picture quality is good, and most important, the sound quality is particularly good for a live recording.

In summary - A Sound Relief is an excellent illustration of how The Gathering has grown up over 15 years. Despite their history and the now mis-applied 'goth' label, The Gathering is now a sophisticated band of young, mature adults, a pregnant singer, two female band members ... and the microphone was decorated with flowers.

Track Listing:
Disc 1: Live concert at Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL, May 23rd 2005
1. The Big Sleep
2. Broken Glass
3. Rescue Me
4. Alone
5. Travel
6. Red Is A Slow Colour
7. A Life All Mine
8. Golden Grounds
9. Amity
10.In Motion II
13.Like Fountains
14.Herbal Movement

Disc 2: Bonus:
Tour Impression 2004
Dutch TV special: 15 Years The Gathering
Italian TV Special
Animation Music Clips:
'The Big Sleep'
'Broken Glass'
'A Life All mine'
'Red Is A Slow Colour'

Added: January 15th 2006
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: The Gathering's Web Site
Hits: 6900
Language: english

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Gathering, The: A Sound Relief (DVD)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-01-15 08:20:36
My Score:

When you first hear the music of The Gathering you will most likely find yourself wondering why you have not heard more of this group on mainstream radio or cable music feeds. The group that began as a heavy Gothic outfit has matured, grown in style and skill and as result gives the listener/viewer a "trippy & airy" level of Atmospheric Rock. This would only be my second exposure to this wonderful musical experience, with my first being the largely acoustic album Sleepy Buildings from 2003. That album gave US fans a great sampling of their material but still it seemed as though many would miss the boat and not pick up on it. The group formed 15 years ago and based on internet samplings of their older stuff they have grown into something far different from how they started out. Hailing from the Netherlands, The Gathering is fronted by the amazing Anneke van Giersbergen. As you listen to her siren- like voice you can see that this was a performer who set and raised the bar on such talented female singers like those who perform with Nightwish, After Forever and Epica. I am sure there are more who fall in line with this band being a pivotal influence and now thanks to the folks at The End Records, the US growing fanbase is able to enjoy this video performance as well. Musically this concert is astounding in its production and delivery. The audience is dead silent during the pieces performed until the very completion and then its resonating. The stage setting is limited with screens showing different forms of video which are brought to better life on the DVD screen for the viewer at home. The level of performance in the musicians (Frank Boeijen, Marjolein Kooijman and Hans and Rene Rutten) is incredible and showcases just how good a band can sound after so many years together. Not sticking to their original form shows them as performers who have matured past what they helped to introduce and the end result is nothing short of fascinating. Fans will find it interesting to note that for some months on the tour which this was filmed that Anneke was 4 months pregnant. From the concert I had a number of favorite pieces such as "Rescue Me", "Red Is A Slow Colour" and "Amity". The more I listen to these tracks the more I feel that people are missing out by not looking into them further. The concert itself runs the span of the first DVD while the second features all of the bonus features.

On DVD 2 there is an equal amount of informative treasures that will not bore the viewer in any sense. There is an interview from Dutch television that covers the bands past 15 years. There is a "Tour Impression" from the appearances in 2004 and an Italian TV Special. Six animation music clips are featured for "Marooned", "The Big Sleep", "Alone", "Broken Glass", A Life All Mine" and "Red Is A Slow Colour". A nice assortment of different things that show you more about the group and that is important when still after 15 years there is still an untapped market for them. I think fans of artists like Portis Head might find something in The Gathering that will afford them some understanding but otherwise it is a difficult group to pigeonhole into a specific genre. It's a DVD that I highly recommend you sit and enjoy with low lights and fine wine and Friends. It's enjoyable from start to finish and I am sure you will refer to it again when your mind needs some clearing

Gathering, The: A Sound Relief (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-12-23 10:34:19
My Score:

After viewing A Sound Relief, the new DVD from Dutch act The Gathering, I'm once again scratching my head wondering why this band is not huge, especially here in the US. Sure, the band has changed their style and sound drastically over the years, beginning as a death metal band, morphing into a doom/gothic band, then eventually taking shape as a sort of progressive, ambient, trippy art rock band, but their sound is very accessible, and the vocals and personality of Anneke van Giersbergen seem ready made for mainstream acceptance. Why this hasn't happened yet remains to be seen, but the band is successfull enough to have music be a full-time job for them, and as evident by some of the commentary of the band on the DVD, there are a few places in the world, South America for instance, where they are extremely popular.

The set list from the Amsterdam show features songs from their last few albums, so don't expect any of the riff based songs from their influential albums Mandylion or Nightime Birds. Instead, the band drifts through 14 dreamy, trippy numbers, that highlight exotic keyboard and guitar effects (check out the effective use of the Theremin!) just as much as Annke's intoxicating vocals. Songs like "Red Is a Slow Colour", "Souvenirs", and "Herbal Movement", will just get you swaying along to the alluring sounds the band creates.

The viewer gets plenty of insight into the band thanks to the two documentaries included, and the "tour impressions" features some great footage of the band in all sorts of locations (the fact that Anneke was pregant during most of the tour also shows how dedicated the band is to their fans).

Considering that this band basically created the "female fronted gothic metal" thing, it's about time for The Gathering to get their due. New listeners should give this DVD a watch and get set for a new album in 2006, and see just how classy and important this band really is.

Gathering, The: A Sound Relief (DVD)
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-12-19 22:30:17
My Score:

The members of The Gathering, one of the classiest rock outfits to emerge from The Netherlands during the past 15 years, are living proof that bands can age gracefully. Witness A Sound Relief, the band's first official independent concert DVD former label Century Media issued an unauthorized live compilation a few years back that the band decried which boasts a concert recorded in Amsterdam in May 2005. Drawing heavily from more recent experimental and atmospheric album Souvenirs, If_Then_Else and How To Measure A Planet?, rather than reaching back to the band's early goth-metal and death-metal tendencies, the 79-minute set is a laid-back affair that's oddly mesmerizing. Just don't expect to hear "Strange Machines," the closest The Gathering ever came to a major hit.

Vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen, who set the trend for female-fronted bands like Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, After Forever, Within Temptation and Evanescence, quickly emerges as the focal point of this gig. She gives a passionate performance that often finds her swaying and dancing to music that you normally wouldn't think could induce swaying and dancing. Lingering camera shots benefit her performance, as well as those of The Gathering's solid quartet of musicians (including new female bassist Marjolein Kooijman).

Bonus features include an engrossing and endearing 35-minute film documenting The Gathering's four 2004 tours: 18 countries and 84 shows (43 of them while van Giersbergen was with child). Worth noting is the absence of obnoxious and/or gross band shenanigans, cuss words and just plain stupid behavior. (Ahem, Evanescence.) Also included is footage from Dutch and Italian television specials chronicling the past, present and future of the band (including a very pregnant singer), plus rather boring 3D animation clips that were projected behind The Gathering during the Amsterdam show.

Collectively, this two-disc package, presented in 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS, provides an intimate portrait of a band that's far from finished.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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