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West Pole

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★½☆
(7 Reviews)

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Description

2009 release from the highly acclaimed and influential Dutch band, their ninth studio album overall and their first to feature Norwegian vocalist Silje Wergeland replacing original front woman Anneke van Giersbergen. The band (celebrating their 20th anniversary this year) has always shown that they have never been afraid of changing and evolving their musical style. The West Pole shows The Gathering is still standing amongst the pioneers of Alternative Rock music as they always have! The West Pole also includes two very talented guest singers: the Dutch Anne van den Hoogen and Mexican Marcela Bovio (from Stream of Passion). The album is a very vital, atmospheric and extraverted Rock album with all the quality and power The Gathering is so famous for. Psychonaut.

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  • And I was told heavy metal section. Sure enough there it was. But I don’t get the connection. This is more along the lines of alternative rock and shoe gaze. Along with some hints of Pink Floyd and Evanescence.
    The singing was great. As was the melody. I look forward to their next CD.

    Posted on February 28, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’ve been listening to this for awhile now, and I must say, I like it a lot. My complaint about The Gathering since Mandylion/Birds is that they don’t totally kick out the jams and rock enough, they’re always restrained and measured, and my initial response to West Pole was exactly that – turn up the volume and smash it for chrissake. There are parts here that do pound pretty good in spots, like “All You Are”, but they’re mixed so dense into the fabric that you need to push the volume real high to get that feeling out of it. That said, there are more growling guitars here than in the last several CD’s, and I like that, I’m a guitar kind of guy.

    Once I got past what I wanted this to be (Nightime Birds 2) and got used to what it is, it grew on me, as Gathering albums tend to do. The quality of the song writing is very good here in a subtle way, hooks that beguile. You can tell when something clicks when you find yourself with a passage rolling around in your brain without really thinking about it, as the title song has been doing all week (though today it seems to be the coda from “Constant Run”). In fact, as an album of songs as opposed to themes, this CD is as close to “Birds” as they’ve come since. If this is an example of the songwriting we can expect in the future, I’ll gladly take more in this vein. Just a little crunchier please.

    Kudos to Silje Wergeland, that’s like replacing Brett Favre at quarterback, and she pulls it off seamlessly, at least in the studio (from what I’ve seen live, she lacks Anneke’s power). Another good show, from a band that simply does not miss.

    Posted on February 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • It’s rare that a band survives the departure of a beloved front person with so much talent and charisma; however, the Gathering have done it in stunning fashion. Silje Wergeland has revitalized the Gathering creatively, musically and emotionally. Not just a replacement, but a new member who was heavily involved in the album, she is a fantastic addition to the band. The West Pole is lush with rich, lyrical melodies and heavy atmospherics, as well as, a harder, edgier guitar sound than the recent Gathering albums. This album has energy and emotion on all tracks, including the instrumental and the slower paced ones. Although there will never be a replacement for Anneke, the Gathering have rediscovered themselves with the West Pole and charted a new direction. The creativity of the music, the beautiful vocals and the wonderful lyrics once again have Gathering songs “spinning around in my head”.

    Posted on February 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I must disagree with the other negative review here, as I found this to be an exceptional album, in many ways, even surpassing “Home”. I’d expected the worse with an “Anneke replacement”, as her voice is simply one of the best, and brought this band from obscurity to world fame. But I must say, the new singer definitely holds her own here, sounding a bit like her predecessor on a few tracks, while adding her own flavor to other songs. I also find some of the music here to remind me of some moments from my favorite Gathering album, “How to measure a planet”, while offering a few slightly heavier, guitar-oriented pieces that harken back to the “Nighttime Birds” days. My only complaint, really, is the lead track, a one-note guitar riff song with no vocals, that simply doesn’t belong here at all. Thankfully, everything that follows is a big step up. If you like this band at all, you should find this Anneke-less version just as compelling.

    Posted on February 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The question was: can The Gathering survive the departure of one of the most versatile singers of all female fronted bands ? The answer is a clear yes, Silje Wergeland (from the norwegian band Octavia Sperati) replacing Anneke Van Giersbergen with a style which is somewhat similar and works well with the band, even though no one will forget Anneke, at least with this record.

    Anneke’s departure was scrutinized because of the stunning influence she had acquired over the years, leading the evolution of The Gathering from their metal origins to the alternate/experimental band of recent years. If her influence was in doubt, it is enough to listen to her own solo effort Air by Agua de Annique to realize how much of her inspiration went into The Gathering. In this sense, following her departure was more akin to replacing Neal Morse in Spock’s Beard than Tarja Turunen in Nightwish.

    In my mind, it is the Spock’s Beard model that applies here and The West Pole evokes the same kind of transition as the immediate post-Snow efforts from the Beard; familiar sound, in a sense free from a dominating influence, but also a little more repetitive, having more difficulty looking for a direction. As a result, all the tracks are good but I don’t hear yet a classic stand-out track in the lot. Perhaps a matter of getting used to the new balance.

    To be clear, The West Pole is no Mandylion or Nightime Birds and The Gathering is still a way off from those glory days. But the energy is there (the wall of guitar sound of the first track When Trust Becomes Sound) and the delicate lace is there too (the completely Silje Wergeland written and composed You Promised Me a Symphony).

    The most promising aspect of the new record is the extent to which Silje has already integrated with the band. Not only does her work mesh well with the guys (and gal) but she has penned seven of the ten tracks, suggesting she is game for the challenge.

    With this recipe in place, not only is The West Pole a very enjoyable record but it is also a transition album that suggests a bright new life for the band.

    UPDATE: in fairness to the band, five months later, I must say that The West Pole grows on you. While it is not Mandylion or Nightime Birds, it does recapture a lot of the raw, hypnotic energy of those early gems, energy perhaps a little lost in the latter, more intimist Anneke-years albums.

    Posted on February 27, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now