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”.