The Gathering…a brief retrospective
So let’s go back to about late 1996, maybe early 1997. I was going through a divorce and wasn’t really the happiest guy in the world at the time. To be truthful, life was pretty shitty for me then, but oh well. If you knew during this time, you saw that I was a mess.
Anyhoo, one day kelz calls me and we’re doing the usual jibber jabber. You know, mom jokes, Iron Maiden, other music etc. He asks me if I had heard of a band called The Gathering. I said no and he played a clip of In Motion from the Mandylion album over the phone. I couldn’t hear it very well but I heard that voice. Oh man, that voice. “I gotta find this ASAP!”
Right around this time I was starting up my personal business (Acacia Music) and started selling CDs on eBay and through my old online store. I need to occupy my time to get my mind off of this stupid divorce. I was dealing with Century Media and Metal Blade at the time as they were handling distro from most other metal labels. So I had ordered Mandylion. I was blown away by it. Not so much because of the music, but because of her voice. It was beautiful. Now, I will be the first to say that I am nto a fan of girls in metal/hard rock bands minus a few exceptions (Leather from Chastain, Betsy from Bitch, Doro from Warlock and Wendy O). I practically listened to this album every day. Like I said earlier, I was going through a rough time in my personal life and music helped get me through it. This album helped get me through it.
The rep I had at Century Media was this super cool guy named John Schultz. I met him in Sept/97 when I went to LA on a buying trip to the Century Media and Metal Blade Records warehouses. John was a cool guy and looked a lot like Mustaine or Joe from the movie Stoned Age. We were both big into The Gathering.
Not long after I got back from LA, John calls me and the conversation went a little like this:
JS: Sean, it’s John from Century, what’s up, man?
Me: Not much, same ol shit.
JS: Sean, hold on a second, there’s someone here you should talk to.
Anneke Van Giersbergen (The Gathering): Hello Sean, this is Anneke from The Gathering.
*Imagine the sound of a 220lb bag of sand hitting the floor*
Me: Wha? really?
I really can’t talk much more about the rest of my conversation with her because I’m pretty sure I regressed to elementary school and professed my undying love for her. No, seriously. I remember I felt like Alfalfa talking to Darla. What a doofus. But she was super cool and absolutely charming. I never got to meet her face to face although I had the opportunity more than once, either at Jaxx in Springfield, VA or here in Austin in 2007 at the SxSW festival. Yes, I’m an idiot. I should have gone. But whatever. She sent me an autographed promo photo. Have I mentioned that she is absolutely gorgeous?
Nighttime Birds came out in mid-97. I’m pretty sure I bought this while in LA visiting the record labels and didn’t get to hear it until I got back to VA. It’s another wonderful effort by the band and a little consistent and polished when compared to Mandylion. This album is a little better than Mandylion but I generally grab Mandylion first when i want to hear them.
In late 1998 they released How To Measure a Planet. What a letdown. The music started integrating trance and electronica to their sound. Boo. I think I liked maybe 2 tracks off of this 2CD set. It really was a bore.
By the time that If_Then_Else came out in 2000, I was done with them. The music changed far too much for me. They continued to be more successful on a worldwide level than before but they lost the sound that I liked.
I lost touch with John from Century Media around 2000/01 when he left the company. I’d love to find that guy again. He turned me on to At The Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul when I was in LA and I am eternally grateful to him for that. So, hope you’re doing well wherever you are, man.
I think I’ll listen to Mandylion and Nighttime Birds tonight. Both albums are always a bright spot that shined in a pretty shitty time of my life.