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.