Saturday, January 28, 2012

Anneke van Giersbergen/The Gathering

This is I guess a few notes about both of them.

I recall around 10 or 11 years ago, maybe even going back to the late 90's, knowing-of The Gathering, and their beautiful lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen aka "Anneke." I think they had their share of fans among the Dream Theater fans even back then. But I know around the time I started listening to "The Root of All Evil" and then volunteering/dj-ing at KFAI, I got to know their name. And eventually I purchased a copy of their 1st album with Anneke 1995's Mandylion

Soon after, I recall James Bickers both telling me about some of their fans at the initial ProgPowerUSA festival in 2001, saying they don't like them anymore because "they're not metal anymore."

And I recall he also wrote about their latest album in his impressive yet short-lived music zine Sea of Tranquility. In fact, it may have been reading about them in there that motivated me to purchase a copy of Mandylion soon after.

And while I liked some of that album, it never really grabbed me to the point of addiction. I probably listened to it 4 or 5 times, and have since not gone back to revisit it sadly.

The other really sad thing about The Gathering for me is, I still to this day, regret missing them live, with what I believe was on their tour during the Summer of 1999 with King's X, at what was known as "The Lab" or "4th Street Station." in St.Paul.

Now I'm not certain in terms of evidence they were on that tour, the Summer of 1999. On Wikipedia though, it does mention

Positive reactions came from all over the world, including the United States, where they played 14 shows during the summer of 1999.

But I do distinctly remember not too long after that show, seeing something online about those 2 bands on tour that Summer. And for King's X, I had never missed seeing them (since becoming a fan in 1996), since I probably had seen them 4 times during the 3 years or more, before that show took place. But the Summer of 1999 was not an easy one for me, as I lost my job at Best Buy and had just moved into my 1st apartment. When I became unemployed, I had to be as careful with my money as I could be.

Fortunately, I did find a job a few months later, but at the time, little did I know I missed the chance to see this band I would grow to become at least curious about. And to add, Anneke being there would have been a big reason to go, as I'll admit, she's as pretty a musician as I've ever seen, even just in photographs. I won't lie, getting to see and hopefully meet her, was probably as big a reason why I felt and still feel sad/bad about missing that show as anything.

But after that period of time, I knew they were still active, and recall wanting to see them live if given the chance. But I don't recall any other tour dates coming to Minnesota, at least for many years. And their studio work, I never spent much time checking out, for whatever reason, likely mostly due to listening to so many other things. Plus, it wasn't like they were a very buzzed-about band in the 2000's. At least not much on the forums I read and posted on.

But I do recall reading about Anneke's departure from The Gathering in 2007. Although I'll admit reading about Tarja Turunen's departure from Nightwish as much, if not more so around that same period of time. Maybe even mixing up the 2 lead female vocalist departures from European Metal bands. And for whatever reason, I wondered if Anneke leaving The Gathering was possibly a good thing.

But it still didn't end up motivating me to check out her music or more of The Gathering's. But now, some 12 years of more later, I stumbled upon her releasing her 3rd in-effect solo (studio) record Everything Is Changing, which was released a little over a week ago, and I streamed it a little while ago here.

Now what I heard on that album didn't really blow me away. A lot of it is gothic hard rock, not that different from my memory of her music with The Gathering. Although a bit also seems to be leaning in the pop and college rock vein. But I'll admit, I am interested to check it out again, with headphones. I also am curious enough about her other solo records, Pure Air, Air and In Your Room.(the latter two under the name Agua de Annique).

I guess the music on those is more acoustic, more stripped down, poppy, folky and singer/songwriter. Which for fans of The Gathering, is a big departure. Although part of what I remember about The Gathering's history, was an interest to change, evolve, not do the same kind of music each time around, etc. At least I recall James Bickers talking about his appreciation for them, for that reason. And in that sense, they were/are progressive. Maybe Anneke could be described in that way too.

And The Gathering themselves, given I have not heard really, more than a few songs beyond Mandylion, I am curious enough to check out their work, especially the albums from the last decade. With Anneke and the one since her departure, The West Pole. A lot of reviews suggest Souvenirs to be their best since Mandylion, but a few others like Home and the heavily layered How To Measure a Planet? may very well be worth the time to take in soon.

And they also have a new album expected in September I guess. The 2nd with new lead vocalist Silje Wergeland, who came from the The Gathering-influenced Norwegian band Octavia Sperati. They released a new single and video last May for the song "Heroes for Ghosts" and I must say, the 1st part of the song starts off a little slow, but by the middle of this track I became more impressed/mesmerized than I expected.

So I'm thinking I will be checking out a lot more of The Gathering and Anneke's work. Anneke has appeared on many albums as a guest and done some collaborations too. Maybe most notably for me, her appearing on Anathema's 2011 release Falling Deeper, on the track "Everawake"

She also performed with Anathema's Danny Cavanagh on a live disc from 2009 titled In Parallel, which I guess is mostly tunes from both Anathema and her work, re-arranged. I found 1 video earlier which was pleasant enough.

Perhaps I may find a new appreciation for both The Gathering and Anneke, in some ways like Anathema the last few years. I guess the biggest issue I have found with Anneke is her voice and vocal-lines seem to be limited to a certain range; which the songs end up sounding a lot alike. But maybe that was partially just a product of The Gathering's music. She does have a very good voice tonally/technically. She does remind me in some ways of Annie Haslam of Renaissance, or rather, my being drawn to her beauty, both outward and inward. She has an angelic voice like Annie. And I can see why many others have called upon her to sing on their albums. Even artists like November's Doom, Moonspell, Giant Squid, Napalm Death and Devin Townsend Project have. In fact I found a video of Anneke with Devin's band from last year live.

That tune is from Devin Townsend Project's Addicted LP. I may have to revisit it now, just for the fact she's on it.