The last couple of years were quite turbulent for The Gathering. Former lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen left the band in pursuit of her own musical endeavours. The future of the band was in limbo for quite some time. However they managed to pull themselves together, found a new vocalist in the form of Silje Wergeland and they released one of their strongest albums to date, entitled The West Pole.
The album starts with an upbeat instrumental track, called When Trust Becomes Sound. It’s very straightforward in nature with a very cool alternative rock vibe. Certainly one of the loudest tracks the band recorded since How To Measure A Planet. It pretty much sets the mood for the rest of the record.
The West Pole is first and foremost a guitar driven album. It’s not so much inspired anymore by triphop like Home and Souvenirs. It’s also quite straightforward in nature with songs like Treasure, Capital Of Nowhere, Pale Traces, No One Spoke and A Constant Run being the best examples of that. Those songs are beautifully counterbalanced by fragile tracks like No Bird Call and You Promised Me A Symphony.
Silje Wergeland is the natural replacement for Anneke van Giersbergen. Her vocal style isn’t that different compared to Anneke’s, so the The Gathering fan base shouldn’t need to worry. Another nice feature on The West Pole are the vocal contributions by Marcela Bovio (Stream Of Passion) and Anne van den Hoogen. This adds a lot to the diversity of this record. Sound wise everything is expertly handled by Zlaya Hadzich and guitarist René Rutten.
The West Pole is the best proof that The Gathering is still alive and kicking. It may not be as epic as How To Measure A Planet or as dark and trippy as the last couple of albums, however this album is a jewel in its own right. I can’t wait for the next album with Silje Wergeland!
written by Raymond Westland