Don’t know what it is, but metalheads — like, the really hardcore ones, ones who solely listen to black metal, death metal, and their kin — the world over go absolutely gaga over the Gathering, the female-fronted five-piece supposedly uplifting such incinerated souls to previously un-dreamt-of heights, namely because of one certain chanteuse, frontwoman Anneke van Giersbergen. Such hyperbole aside, If_Then_Else is this writer’s introduction to the Dutch band. And, frankly, to these ears, the Gathering pretty much sound like a Cocteau Twins/Curve /Slowdive menage a trois filtered through a darkadelic recent-Amorphis muse, and that is by no means meant in the pejorative sense. Any way you cut it, the Gathering certainly kick up more dirt and rattle a few more eardrums than the aforementioned (after all, how would they have ended up on Century Media?), and with van Giersbergen’s butterfly-away vocals deservedly and justifiably at the forefront, the end result is grandly narcotic and sinfully sweeping whether you’re a metal fan or not — sonic wallpaper with a burning pulse.
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