Silje Wergeland's challenge isn't just to sing as well as she can. She also
has to convince the legion of Anneke Van Giersbergen worshippers - and they'll
be a tough sell.
Home, Anneke left The Gathering to pursue
own career. Fans were convinced the band would fold because with her angelic
vocals-over-metal, The Gathering created the format that would be adopted
by a dozen Euro bands, and more recently, by commercially successful
Evanescence. Well there's no question that Van Giersbergen was truly excellent,
but with the new singer, this is clearly the same band. Silje Wergeland's
delivery is remarkably similar to her predecessor's, and the addition of two
guest singers adds further interest.
Not only does Norwegien Wergeland have a timbre and a range that are very
similar - but her style and technique are remarkably similar as well. She may
lack Anneke's technical abilities, but many argued that toward the end of her
tenure, Anneke lost script and had started delivering technical performances.
The Gathering is labeled as a "metal" act on the strength of their early work
- but they haven't played a note of metal in the last 5 releases – including
West Pole. The soft-goth genre they developed is intact, and the angelic
singing fits the underlying quasi-metal instrumentals perfectly. There's more
variety than we saw in their previous album, it's well written, perfectly
executed, and wonderfully produced. At the same time, though - it's
approachable, it pushes no boundaries, and it lacks the edginess of the early
CDs. Less "progressive", more straightforward rock.
Ten songs in just 54 minutes - the title track is atmospheric and pleasing,
while opening track "When Trust Becomes Sound" starts with a nice groove, yet
it's spacey at the same time, and ends with a a long instrumental. "Capital of
Nowhere" (featuring guest singer Anne van den Hoogen) might remind you of the
Cocteau Twins, and listen for Mexican siren Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion) on
"Pale Traces". But perhaps the most important track is "You Promised Me A
Symphony", which was penned by Silje and focuses on her breathy singing
meandering over slow atmospherics with rich keys and a simple rhythm section.
That song might be a glimpse at the direction she will nudge the band in future
releases. "Constant Run" features just her plaintive vocals over gentle piano -
It's better than Home - but it ain't Mandylion.
1. When Trust Becomes Sound
3. All You Are
4. The West Pole
5. No Bird Call
6. Capital of Nowhere (Anne van den Hoogen)
7. You Promised Me a Symphony
8. Pale Traces (Marcela Bovio)
9. No One Spoke