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The Gathering began life as a doom death band in 1989, centered around the brothers Rutten (Hans, drummer and René, guitar) and original singer Bart Smits. Along with keyboardist Frank Boeijen and bass player Hugo Prinsen Geerligs, the band would release their debut Always... to a small amount of success in 1992. A year later there would be a change of singer to Niels Duffhues, and the band would release the less well recieved Almost a Dance. Shortly after, Niels Duffhues would also leave.
It wasn't until 1995 and the arrival of Anneke van Giersbergen that The Gathering would find their sound and much larger success. The band's third album, Mandylion, saw the band ditch their death metal past for a slow, atmospheric gothic sound, accompanied by Anneke's signature vocal style. The album was a hit in Europe, selling over 130,000 copies and producing a charting single in Strange Machines. This would be one of the earliest successes in the female-fronted gothic metal genre, paving the way for other Dutch bands such as Within Temptation, After Forever and Epica. The similar follow-up, Nighttime Birds, would also prove successful.
The Gathering would develop their sound further over the next four albums, gradually moving away from goth metal (and metal in general). The band's fifth album, the double-CD How to Measure a Planet? would see the band experiment with new styles, especially shoegaze and trip-hop, creating an album rather different from Mandylion, let alone the band's earlier material. if_then_else and Souvenirs would follow, before Hugo would take his leave, with a live acoustic album Sleeping Buildings being his last recording. He would be replaced by Marjolein Kooijman, who would debut on Home in 2006.
In 2007 Anneke decided to leave the band, wishing to spend more time with her young famliy. She currently is involved in her new solo band Agua de Annique, which includes her husband Rob Snijders. They have released three studio albums (one of which is mostly covers), as well as a live album.
Meanwhile, the remaining members of The Gathering returned in 2009 with a new singer, Norwegian Silje Wergeland, formally of Octavia Sperati. In contrast to the radical style change from the band's first two singers and Anneke, Silje has a relatively similar style. Later, the band would release their first album since Anneke's departure, The West Pole. The album would not only feature songs with Silje Wergeland, but also guest lead vocals from Anne van den Hoogen, and Stream of Passion's Marcela Bovio.
In 2011, The Gathering released an online single, the almost 11 minute long Heroes for Ghosts.
- Always... (1992)
- Almost a Dance (1993)
- Mandylion (1995)
- Nighttime Birds (1997)
- How to measure a planet? (1998)
- if_then_else (2000)
- Souvenirs (2003)
- Home (2006)
- The West Pole (2009)
The Gathering provides examples of:
- All Lowercase Letters: if_then_else
- Band of Relatives: Type 1; founders René and Hans Rutten
- Death Metal: First album only.
- Doom Metal: Described as this or Goth Metal, until How to measure a planet...
- Epic Rocking: Common. Biggest offenders are: Travel (9:06), Sand & Mercury (9:57), Heroes for Ghosts (10:53 - and this one has a music video!) and How to measure a planet? (28:33)
- Goth Metal: Mandylion is an early example of a successful female-fronted goth metal album, long before Evanescence, Within Temptation or Lacuna Coil showed up. Though the band quickly moved on.
- Harsh Vocals: Bart Smits on Always..., but starting with Niels Duffhues the band stuck with Clean Vocals
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: More and more so with every album.
- New Sound Album: Numerous. The first three albums are very different from each other (Doom death, alternative rock and then goth metal). How to measure a planet? is a major turning point as well.
- Psychedelic Rock: Whilst the band don't normally fit into this genre, the title track from How to measure a planet... would be describable as this.
- Shoegazing: This genre continues to be a major influence of the band.
- Soprano and Gravel: The first two albums, strangely with two different sets of singers (Bart Smiths and Marike Groot on Always..., Niels Duffhues and Martine van Loon on Almost a Dance)
- The Band Minus the Face: From The West Pole onwards.
- Time Travel: The subject of Strange Machines, where Anneke describes wanting to travel back in time to see important events in history.
- Trope Codifier: To an extent. They were among the first goth metal bands to employ Beauty and Beast mechanics, though Theatre of Tragedy are much more famous for it, perhaps because The Gathering changed to just a solo female singer for their breakthrough album. They are certainly one of the first successful female fronted goth metal acts, though.
- Unplugged Version: Subverted with Sleepy Buildings, which is credited as a semi-acoustic live album.