The Gathering - Disclosure
Psychonaut Records
Atmospheric Rock
8 songs (51:42)
Release year: 2012
The Gathering, Psychonaut Records
Reviewed by Goat
Album of the month

It's fair to say that the departure of female vocalist par excellence Anneke van Giersbergen left many fans of The Gathering in despair, and whilst her replacement Silje Wergeland undeniably has a wonderful voice, the album chosen to showcase it was something of a disappointment. The West Pole seemed decent if a step down in quality at the time, and I struggled to praise it in my review. Disclosure, then, is something of a revelation, what its predecessor should have been, an exploration of similar territory but leaps and bounds ahead to the point that I now view The West Pole as a (very long) introduction, a warm-up to Disclosure's main show. Where the previous album scraped the barrel, Disclosure leaps up for the sky, exploring new terrain with that same gleeful warmth that so infused past classics like How To Measure A Planet? What makes it even more impressive is that Disclosure is undeniably a follow-up to The West Pole, continuing in its path but adding the skilled songwriting and wide-eyed joy of life that that album lacked beneath its (admittedly wonderful) cover art. This album thinks nothing of stretching songs out to nine, ten minute lengths, has the confidence to throw in instrumental post-rock meanders here and there, even the mournful wail of violin and trumpet making themselves known, to outstanding effect.

Taking as a general theme the mourning of lost love, Disclosure is something of a confessional, Silje revealing her hidden emotions to the listener atop a wonderful instrumental backdrop. Both euphoria and misery are explored, both shot through with the organic humanity that gives the best songs from the band their atmospheric presence. Opener Paper Waves is perhaps the simplest song present, although even that is undershot with subtle currents - jangling guitar melodies giving a poppy lightness, undershot with muscular drumming and a danceable vibe that developes into an uplifting chorus. The song ends with a layered, disjointed guitar acting almost as punctuation to Silje's voice, building in tension and emotional heft until ending almost suddenly, bringing you back to earth with a thump. The following Meltdown opens with almost Muse-like electronic groove, before building into a more typical Gathering-y tune, Silje and a male vocalist (one of the other band members although I'm unsure which!) duetting, the song building up with more shots of catchy groove complete with mini guitar solos and the aforementioned trumpet, the band rocking out wonderfully - until the midpoint, where it turns suddenly mournful and almost ambient, the trumpet returning over a drum beat and soft, tingling bells. Utterly compelling, and utterly beautiful.

Those two words could sum most of the album up. Paralized opens with a squall of noise that somehow forms music, Silje pleading for her lover simply to 'say my name' before the sound dies, reforming as a near-orchestral post-rock symphony that ebbs and flows beneath her vocals, always present, always magical. It's on the ten-minute Heroes For Ghosts where the instrumental section of the band really show their skill, however, opening with a funereal trumpet and moving slowly forwards with a distant, violent drumbeat the one mark of heaviness, joining the other instruments and propelling the vocals even higher. About the four-minute mark there's a sudden shift, a move towards instrumental terrain as almost folky guitar jingling becomes immersed in the rhythm section, the trumpet returning and the instruments uniting to form an almost Morricone-type vibe, Silje returning to add even more power. Whether songs are long or short, The Gathering's power is undeniable, from the yearning I Can See Four Miles with its extended Eastern-tinged instrumental section which waxes euphorically in strength, to the two-part Gemini. The latter is a personal favourite, the second part repeating the vocal lines of the first with a starker, ambient backing as an outro, ending in gasped vocals and strings. It feels unsatisfactory, as if there should be more after it, and I usually find myself starting the album again, addicted - a neat trick from the band, keeping you on the hook, leaving you hungry for more despite just having heard fifty minutes of marvellous music. I'll be listening for the rest of the year, and beyond - a brilliant album that is the band's best in years.

Killing Songs :
Paper Waves, Meltdown, Paralized, Heroes For Ghosts, Gemini I, I Can See Four Miles
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by The Gathering that we have reviewed:
The Gathering - How To Measure A Planet? reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
The Gathering - Mandylion reviewed by Charles and quoted CLASSIC
The Gathering - The West Pole reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
The Gathering - Nighttime Birds reviewed by Charles and quoted 91 / 100
The Gathering - Home reviewed by Ken and quoted 75 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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