» The Gathering Biography
by Marion Phillips - November 5, 2003
Although The Gathering isn't considered a Goth Rock band, it has all the elements of the best of them: introspective lyrics, moody melodies, and a good and charismatic singer.
Searching For Their Own Sound
The Gathering was formed in 1989 by the Rutten brothers Hans (drums and percussion), and René (guitar), and the vocalist Bart Smits in Oss, Netherlands.
In the beginning, they played death metal together with the bassist Hugo P. Geerlings, the guitarist Jelmer Wiersma and the keyboardist Frank Boijen.
In 1990, they recorded a demo tape, calling it "An Imaginary Symphony", sent copies of it to several local magazines for promotion and received some good reactions. Their first show was in Heersch, a town near Oss in January 1991, in which they were the opening band for Deadhead and Invocator.
Another demo was recorded, this one called "Moonlight Archer" and sent to other journalists, helping them increase their popularity. As a consequence, they opened the shows of well-known bands like Samael, Morbid Angel and Death.
It was when appeared the opportunity of recording an album, and through the Foundation 2000 label, they released "Always…" in 1992. In this album, Bart shared the vocals with Marike Groot, who was a melodious feminine counterpart to his guttural vocals. This album was very well received and it got them the opportunity to travel outside their homeland to Belgium and even to Israel.
As Bart and Marike weren't satisfied with the results, in spite of the album's good receptivity, they decided to leave and for their places, The Gathering guys got Niels Duffhues and Martine van Loon, and recorded a new album "Almost A Dance", that was released in 1993.
New problems came when they had to substitute the two singers because their voices didn't match well with the band's sound. So they went back to the auditions, and among the several singers who were tested, they found the ace that they needed to win new higher positions in the European rock scene.
In 1994, the 21 years old singer with an angel's face and voice, Anneke van Giersbergen auditioned and earned her place among the Dutch guys of The Gathering. Her piercing contralto voice gave a new depth to their sound and to fit it, the band's music was lapidated into something more melodic while keeping its dark mystique.
Through a new label, the German Century Media, The Gathering released in 1995 the album "Mandylion", which features their first great success "Strange Machines" and was produced by Waldemar Sorychta, who already worked with Tiamat, Moonspell and Sentenced.
To promote this album, the band toured their entire country, plus Belgium and Germany. In 1996, they played in the important festivals Dynamo Open Air and Pink Pop and continued to tour throughout the year, while preparing material for their next album.
The "Nighttime Birds" album was released in 1997, and had another great hit in a song of the same name. This album's success reached the entire European continent.
For personal reasons, Jelmer decided to leave the band in July 1998 and they chose to remain with only René as a guitarist. The members of The Gathering decided that it was time for them to try new musical mixtures and when they recorded "How to Measure A Planet?", they tried new instruments and recording effects.
This album was very daring, because it was a double set and because of the variety of elements in the songs. Many of their old fans couldn't relate to it, but this album got them more admirers and opened new frontiers for them, as in 1999 they went to the US to make 14 shows.
Finally Some Stability
In that same year, they decided to take the reins of their career by starting their own label, the Psychonaut Records. Their previous works "Always…" and "Almost A Dance" were re-released in 1999 and 2000, in re-mastered versions with new cover artworks.
As their contract with Century Media hadn't finished yet, The Gathering released the live album "Superheat" in 2000, with songs recorded from several shows of theirs in Netherlands and with a list comprising songs from all their albums of the Anneke phase.
Their success continued to grow with the album "If Then Else", released in 2000, which has more emotional songs like "Saturnine". To promote it, they traveled for 15 months throughout Europe and America and ended the tour only in October 2001 in a small club in their homeland.
After a short break, the band members ended their deal with Century Media and to celebrate their 12th anniversary, they released a mini-CD called "Black Light District" through their own label.
2002 was used for touring and preparing the material for their new album "Souvenirs", which features the songs "These Good People" and "Even the Spirits Are Afraid", among others.
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Copyright © 2003 Marion Phillips