The Gathering: Always

Dutch eclecticists revisit doom-laden origins.

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Holland’s The Gathering are notable for the organic manner in which the group blossomed from a moderately experimental metal outfit into one capable of effectively absorbing more or less any genre that happened to take their fancy. Nevertheless, a metal band they once were, and this reissue of their 1992 debut serves as a fine illustration of their early sound.

The heavier 1994 alternate mix, presented here on the bonus disc, is superior to the original. The keyboards are nudged gently into the background while the guitars gain extra presence.

It’s fascinating to revisit albums from the early 90s, especially when you recall that this was a period when a band was not under pressure to reinvent the wheel with their initial release. Indeed, it would take The Gathering a couple of years to forge a truly distinctive identity.

The arrival of vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen on 1995’s Mandylion ushered in the elusive magic that would elevate them above the level of a highly competent yet derivative death-doom act and pave the way for the genre-defying experimentation of 1998’s How To Measure A Planet? and 2003’s Souvenirs.