Reviewgium – Volume I, issue III
Before I was even a fan of The Gathering, Anneke van Giersbergen was one of my favorite female vocalists, and her charms have won me over yet again with this album. It took a few listens before Home really “clicked,” but when it did, it did so in a big way. As with their last few albums, Home makes it apparent that The Gathering has mellowed out quite a bit, but they have not lost their edge. Well, perhaps they did lose a little in Souvenirs, but they have gained back whatever little edge they lost in Home. Still, the newer songs are almost mellow enough at times to be considered metal-tinged pop rock, but let’s not go overboard with labels.
“Shortest Day” opens the album, the highlight being Anneke’s immaculate, wordless chantings during the choral sections. Then a slow, pulse followed by a sinister bass line starts the haunting track “In Between,” which I think contains Anneke’s best performance on the album, though it is really difficult to rate one song against another in that manner, as she excels consistantly in every song. An eerie combination of chimes and steady pulsating rhythms provdide the setting for “Alone,” a song beautiful in its simplicity. The delicate nature of “Waking Hour” sort of trasports you to another realm, and is extended in the intermediate track “Fatigue,” and enhanced further with more of Anneke’s enchanting vocal lines in “A Noise Severe.” “Forgotten” may be considered the weak point of Home, if there must be one, but there is nothing wrong with a simple duet between Anneke and a piano. “Solace” is a mixture of singing and spoken word. Does anyone have a problem with the Dutch language rolling off of Anneke’s tongue? I do not know what she is saying, but it does not seem to matter. In fact, now I think I’d pay for a few issues of “Books On Tape: as read in Dutch by the sultry Anneke van Giersbergen.” Anyway, the pace picks up a bit with “Your Troubles Are Over,” sinking back down for the sad melodies of “Box,” another song, like “Alone,” that is beautiful in its simplicity, pulling at your heartstrings like a rain shower in the forest on a cool, placcid spring night. “The Quiet One”…short but sweet Anneke ambience, setting you up for the title track. Just sit back, close your eyes for a moment, and let it take you to another plane. She has that power. Frankly, I think the album could have ended perfectly with this song, but the final track is instead a “Forgotten Reprise,” odd in that it is longer than the original “Forgotten.” Or perhaps I should say “drawn out,” as the track is essentially a droning 8-minute fade-out that disappears into the horizon.
I can definitely recommend this album to fans, though if you were expecting a return to the earlier and heavier sound of The Gathering, you obviously will not find it here, and perhaps never again at this rate. Not that that is a bad thing. For new listeners, pick it up if I have sparked your interest, but your best bet would be to acquire the more energetic Nighttime Birds, or alternatively, the classic How To Measure a Planet as your first Gathering album. It worked for me.