Released: 2012, Psychonaut Records
Five years ago, the incomparable Anneke Van Giersbergen departed The Gathering, leaving many fans in despair. However, in 2009 the band announced Silje Wergeland as Anneke’s replacement and later that year released WEST POLE to mostly positive reviews. Now with one album down with Silje and plenty of touring, it is clear that Silje has established her place as a worthy successor to Anneke. While DISCLOSURE will almost certainly disappoint those pining for the crashing distortion of MANDYLION, The Gathering continues to be daring and experimental, while retaining their core vision and style.
Much like WEST POLE, Marjolein Kooijman’s thumping bass lines are the foundation for most of the best songs on here, recalling the lost of art of independent bass lines, a welcome change from the pounding out of the root note to the guitars power chords of most metal bands today. Yet, it is probably worthwhile to question if The Gathering are even metal anymore. There are still plenty of instrumental elements and some crunch that recall their mid-90’s style, but undeniably there are also sequences of dream pop and progressive mellow passages. I will let their metal-ness rest as debatable -while my personal opinion is definitely not metal- but suffice it to say that fans that crave extreme metal exclusively need not investigate DISCLOSURE.
Musically, DISCLOSURE is diverse and Silje’s natural vocals are soothing, avoiding the operatic style for more of a gentle croon. Album opener “Paper Waves” is a rhythmically driving, atmospheric track that flows rather than crunches, despite some distorted guitars to add to the overall tapestry of the song. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the melancholic and slow “Paralyzed”, which resembles a more mellow version of “Sand and Mercury” from MANDYLION. For experimental tunes, look no further than “Meltdown” while “Heroes For Ghosts” serves as the album’s epic tune, at nearly 11 minutes long.
Some fans have been on board the bus with the band since the beginning and have evolved with them. They will find this album a welcome return to more focused song-writing at the expense of any unifying sound. Other fans got off the bus somewhere between MANDYLION and WEST POLE, so there is no need for any of you to get back on unless you are ready to accept the wonderful background music The Gathering now play. It is funny, because so many early reviews are calling it just that, background music, and yet it is true. Well produced, peaceful, and at times beautiful, ultimately DISCLOSURE will give you little reason to get up off the couch from your nap and invest in a careful listen.