Though it has since been eclipsed by increasingly superb efforts, the Gathering's Mandylion was considered a groundbreaking achievement upon its release in 1995. The first album to juxtapose the formidable vocal talents of the newly arrived Anneke Van Giersbergen's in striking contrast with the group's progressive metal, much of the material sounds amazingly confident and cohesive from the very start, be it through the driving intensity of opener "Strange Machines" or the death metal-style double kick drum of "Eleanor." The singer's enviable vocal talents are also fully displayed throughout the album, whether playing the soft-spoken angel while harmonizing with herself on "In Motion #1 and "2," or portraying the menacing siren while exploring her entire range on "Leaves." Admittedly, the band does seem unsure about just how far they can take this new creation at times. They wander a tad too far afield on the rather aimless "Fear the Sea," never really bring things into focus on the largely instrumental title track, and then bashfully hide a short passage of Enya-like ethereal beauty within the sprawling "Sand and Mercury." Still, all things considered, Mandylion has stood the test of time quite well and will provide an excellent second or third glimpse into this exciting band's discography.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia