A creative, classy, and highly refined "symphonic metal" outfit from Holland, the Gathering debuted with 1993's Always, a fairly straightforward death metal album with vocals by Marike Groot, although heavy use of keyboards made it stand out a bit from other such albums at the time. The follow-up, 1994's Almost a Dance, saw the departure of singer Groot as well as "growling" vocalist Bart Smits, replaced primarily by Niels Duffhues, whose punkish tone was decidedly out of step with the music. The album also featured occasional vocals by Martine van Loon, a low-key singer with a pretty tone but one who seldom took to the forefront of a composition. It would appear that the seed had been planted in the bandmembers' heads to pair their uniquely compelling songwriting style with a passionate female vocalist; the result was the addition of ...
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