The Gathering

Souvenirs

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AllMusic Review by

For those in the know, the release of Souvenirs was one to watch closely. In the two years since If_Then_Else, the Gathering had decided to push their more experimental side even further, as well as part ways with the label that they had been with for years (many said that it was the new directions of the Gathering and the inability of the label to market them that signaled the end). Fortunately, this band has learned to experiment with a fully realized sense of purpose, so it doesn't mean that Souvenirs has any wild new changes thrown in, outside of a guest vocalist. Sure, it's not really all that different from If_Then_Else or How to Measure a Planet? at first glance, but repeated listens open up the detailed touches of a band clearly interested in taking its progressive tendencies to new levels. The album has keyboards that are never overbaked ("We Just Stopped Breathing," "Jelena") and vocals that are absolutely angelic ("You Learn About It," "A Life All Mine"), not to mention spectacular drumming ("Even the Spirits Are Afraid") and a sly sense of keeping riffs from getting too monotonous ("Monsters"). It's not a huge step forward, but it's most certainly the best step the band could have made at this point. One senses that while they're leaving some of the more pedestrian metal elements of the old days behind, in a way the Gathering are attempting to forge new styles based on slow, careful, almost studied growth. With each album an improvement over its predecessor, the only way is up.

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