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3.91 | 23 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1997


1. On Most Surfaces (Inuït) (6:54)
2. Confusion (6:33)
3. The May Song (3:44)
4. The Earth Is My Witness (5:31)
5. New Moon, Different Day (6:06)
6. Third Chance (5:25)
7. Kevin's Telescope (3:23)
8. Nighttime Birds (7:02)
9. Shrink (4:02)

Total Time: 48:43


- Anneke Van Giersbergen / Vocals
- Renï Rutten / Guitar
- Jelmer Wiersma / Guitar
- Hugo Prinsen Geerligs / Bass
- Frank Boeijen / Keyboards
- Hans Rutten / Drums

About this release

Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: May 15, 1997

Thanks to Stooge, adg211288 for the updates


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Taking on more melodic and alternative rock influences, Nighttime Birds is otherwise a repeat of the approach of Mandylion - combining Anneke van Giersbergen's All About Eve-ish vocals with doomy gothic metal riffs. It's a pleasant listen once again, and some compositions - like Kevin's Telescope - are genuinely haunting, though there are points where it feels to me a bit too much like a retread of its more successful predecessor. On the whole, I'd say if you loved Mandylion you will most likely enjoy this one, but at the same time I do feel glad the band took things in a more experimental direction subsequent to this because one more album in the exact same style as this one would have been too much.
For reasons that defy all common sense, I completely discarded this album on its release in 1997. After 2 years with Mandylion I had probably hoped for a noticeable departure from a sound that I had grown a bit tired of. My statistic reports tell me I only obtained about 25 albums a year in those days, of which only 10 noteworthy. No wonder I got a bit weary of some stuff...

Anyways, water under the bridge now. I got back into the Gathering from 2001 onwards and this album was a pleasant treat. The sound hasn’t changed all that much from the preceding album but the songs are easily as good and the band had learned not to overdo their instrumental sections (an obvious flaw on Mandylion). The Gathering isn’t a band with exceptional musicianship, so their power has to come from smart song writing and emotional vocals; and their progginess has to be earned by sonic experimentation and their genre defying attitude.

On Most Surfaces is one of the most astounding doom metal songs ever, it has a very strange structure, almost as if it starts with the chorus instead of the verses. It’s an overwhelming start. Confusion lets go of all things metal; it’s a slightly gothic mood rock that knows to avoid the frequent exaggeration and pose in that style of music. The Gathering have a much more subtle and suggestive approach. The May Song strays even further away from metal and follows the emotive modern rock path that Radiohead had carved with The Bends.

After the rather weak The Earth Is My Witness, the album has a next chilling piece of laid back rock music on New Moon Different Day. The verses have a decided Pink Floyd flavour and Anneke Van Giersbergen vocals are simply gorgeous. Well, she’s my Goddess for some reason, only contested by Kate Bush and Tori Amos. More amazing music follows on Nighttime Birds and Shrink.

Nighttime Birds is an album that I shouldn’t have overlooked. So in order to purge me from my initial blasphemy, I got me the lavish 2 CD edition, which comes highly recommended for a diverse range of music lovers, going from Floyd and Radio-heads to Kate Bushfans and melodic doom metal bangers.
Time Signature
New sound, different music...

Genre: alternative rock / alternative metal

This is a borderline case for me, as "Nighttime Birds" is almost not metal to me. Trading the waters between alternative metal and alternative rock (with gothic overtones), there still are enough metal features to merit a "metal music" classification, but, it's really a borderline case, so I think (or rather, I know) that a lot of metalheads will not like it.

There are distorted guitars and heavy drumbeats and riffs to be found on it, but a lot of parts of the songs on the album are played with clean guitars, and the keyboards are very prominent, creating an almost athmospheric feel. There is nothing as such wrong with the music on this album, which is generally very melancholic but also very soothing, but, in my book, it is nowhere nears as good as "Mandylion".

I think that fans of melodic rock and alternative rock will like this album, and some more open-minded doomsters might like it too. But, honestly, I think most metalheads will prefer The Gathering's earlier releases to this one.

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