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4.0 out of 5 stars A walk in the snow
When an album has one song that stands out so far from the others that it transforms the feel of the songs that come after it, you know it's a special song. I'm talking about 'Third Chance', from The Gathering's 'Nighttime Birds'. I'm not saying that this is the best song by The Gathering, or even that it's the best song on the record, but it's a dose of pure joy for me...
Published 20 days ago by Edmund Morton

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3.0 out of 5 stars Three and half.
Mandylion was my first Gathering CD, which is fantastic. Nighttime Birds was a little disappointing in that it is a bit slower and some of the lyrics aren't as good. The music and singing are both top notch, it was just the pace of the songs I found a bit hard to listen to. I would give it 3 1/2 stars.
Published 17 months ago by David Alan Walker


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4.0 out of 5 stars A walk in the snow, 28 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Nighttime Bird (Audio CD)
When an album has one song that stands out so far from the others that it transforms the feel of the songs that come after it, you know it's a special song. I'm talking about 'Third Chance', from The Gathering's 'Nighttime Birds'. I'm not saying that this is the best song by The Gathering, or even that it's the best song on the record, but it's a dose of pure joy for me and can snap me out of depression in an instant. The fact is, though, that it doesn't really fit on 'Nighttime Birds' - it's an utterly different kind of song.

This album for the most part trades in the sandstone and desert wind doom of 'Mandylion' for a more relaxed, atmospheric adventure. The pace is slow, the heaviness minimal, and most of the emotional intensity comes from Anneke van Giersbergen, not that the instrumentalists are lazy or their performances lacking. The guitars sweep and hang, with a lot of piercing high end that sounds like bird calls coming across the sea; the keyboards build an atmosphere of magic and airy lightness; the bass wanders thoughtfully in the shade of the guitars; the drums are calm and sage-like, never saying more than they need to. If it helps you picture the prevailing sound on this album, it's saved in my Itunes with a genre tag of "progressive rock". It's got that kind of feeling: diverse, explorative, gradual.

The opener 'On Most Surfaces' is probably the best song on here, with its piercing, soaring guitar motif, chugging momentum, and a climactic chorus. It's the sonic equivalent of the cover image, with a single tree in a field of untouched snow, which the band explore with all the spacious wonder of wise children adrift and alone in winter. The other songs tend to follow this pattern, using slow rhythmic footsteps to move through the drifts of snow and dreamy vocals and keyboards to gaze up at the flurries falling from above. The whole mood is one of being set free from the world and seeing everything anew, as if it's covered by the formless envelope of snow. There are some moments that startle the listener into half-consciousness, like the powerful vocal peaks in 'The Earth is My Witness', but there's always something soothing to follow. It's beautiful music for the most part, and very relaxing too.

Then 'Third Chance' happens. I don't know what it is about this song, but there's suddenly an air of excitement and urgency (even though the band drift through the chords and only have time for two choruses) that kicks the album into another gear. Maybe it's the insistent one-two drumbeat that powers the wash of chords and boards along, maybe it's that frantic build-up of Hammond that ushers in the chorus, maybe it's just that Anneke finally lets rip at medium pace with the whole band behind her. It's just sheer release and energy and it feels glorious after the ebb and drift of the first 25 minutes.

The problem is, of course, the last few songs lose out a little bit in comparison. There isn't a drop in quality at all (although 'Shrink' is the least gripping), but having heard the intensity that The Gathering can play at when they want to, the otherwise stately title track doesn't have the impact it should. Really, it's just an issue of balance, because I wouldn't take 'Third Chance' off the album for anything, though it's difficult to know where to put such an upbeat song on such a reflective and dreamy album. In the end, most of the songs here pull their weight and have a lot of musical merit, even if 'Nighttime Birds' does feel like a very short day out and a lot of bedtime stories.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Music From A Multi-Faceted Group, 18 Dec 2004
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Night Time Birds (Audio CD)
The Gathering are a band not content to rest on their laurels. Nowadays they produce a sound labelled 'trip-rock', some distance from the metal music with which they began. Nighttime Birds is the second album with female vocalist Anneke and, like its predecessor Mandylion, will impress anyone with a taste for loud guitar music and intelligent lyrics.
I first heard them in 1998. I was working with a blonde Viking over XMAS and my ears suddenly pricked-up when I heard 'Third Chance', a truly glorious song [track 6]. Most of what's on this album is of comparable quality and it is refreshing to hear a metallish band with a singer who really can sing and not about cartoonish concepts. I strongly recommend this album and also both its predecessor and successor - the conceptual How To Measure A Planet.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Album, 9 May 2004
This review is from: Night Time Birds (Audio CD)
This is the best Gathering album, in my opinion and one of my favourite albums of all time. Beautiful, tastefully simple melodies, meditative rhythms and atmospheric songs are features of the Gathering's style.
The band uses these elements to create songs that are often long without sounding indulgent and show a full spectrum of human emotions, from joy, anger, sorrow, and the rest.
This album features an eclectic mix of fast (Third Chance) and slow (Nighttime Birds), light (The May Song) and heavy (On Most Surfaces) songs, all of which are excellent.
If you buy any album from this band, let it be this one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three and half., 15 July 2013
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This review is from: Nighttime Birds (Audio CD)
Mandylion was my first Gathering CD, which is fantastic. Nighttime Birds was a little disappointing in that it is a bit slower and some of the lyrics aren't as good. The music and singing are both top notch, it was just the pace of the songs I found a bit hard to listen to. I would give it 3 1/2 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Gathering can do no wrong, 30 Aug 2009
By 
I. J. Davies "The Rock Addict" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Nighttime Birds (Audio CD)
Another little gem of an album from The Gathering. Their best in my opinion was Home or Mandylion, but this is also quality Melodic Doom Metal
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick Reviews!, 27 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Nighttime Birds (Audio CD)
Nighttime Birds sounds like an extension of Mandylion, although with a much darker tone throughout- the guitars are more jagged and raw, the vocals are more stretched and angst ridden, while the vocals for the most part are more introspective and bleak. The album doesn't contain as many `hits' as its predecessor, the songs that are here don't have as much experimentation of sounds and musical shifts but the album retains the epic feel. While not as impressive as the last album, this shows signs of growth and Anneke's vocals have certainly improved even though they were near perfect before. The production levels are higher and Anneke now has a clearer, more powerful performance. While Mandylion was mostly similarly paced rock songs with a few instrumentals, Nighttime Birds adds in more gloomy moments, a beautiful ballad of innocence, a much faster track, and a soft, downbeat, piano driven song. The band were exploring new sounds on an individual track basis rather than throwing as many ideas as they could into each song like before. Each fan has their favourite album, each album differs from the next, and Nighttime Birds is no exception- the only similarity being that they all share great talent in all musical areas.

`On Most Surfaces' opens in bombastic and familiar fashion. The first thing to notice is that the production has a more dense, expensive feeling to it. Everything is more focused complimenting the complex arrangements. Sound effects blend with the usual massive riffs, the guitars sound angrier, and when Anneke first unleashes her vocals you know that this will be an album of concentrated rage. Anneke's vocal range here is exceptional and her control in moving from the quiet parts to the screeching parts shows mastery of her art. The song contains a softer middle part which rather than sounding mellow, sounds like restrained threat. This soon fades back into the central verse which is complimented by good piano work from Boeijen. The lyrics are still nothing special concentrating on moods and emotions using wintery imagery.

`Confusion' opens in a more somber, softer style, marked by an eerily toned guitar and Anneke's reverb filled vocals. The single chorus line here is among the catchiest in the band's history, each time it is heard is more emotional than before. The lyrics speak of paranoia, confusion, pressure, but they are fairly minimalist. Most of the song is filled by musical parts, the guitars again blending with techno sounds to great effect. The bass and drums here also stand out, but the best moment is the final time Anneke sings the chorus. The colliding riffs also help to lift this above a fairly standard rock song.

`The May Song' begins with an organ played over a dance like drum loop. The guitar's 3 note progression grows steadily along side some acoustic chords but as always Anneke's voice takes central stage. The verse and chorus melodies here are not as interesting or as memorable as others and as such this song is one I don't listen to much. It is more mellow than the first two songs, with only a few loud guitars in the chorus before another classic Rene solo begins.

`The Earth Is My Witness' has that dark, ominous tone about it, slow doom pace and techno beats over quite low and demonic vocals from Anneke. These build to a booming chorus as Anneke soars high above us, the lyrics actually attempting speaking of man's disregard of nature which may come back to destroy us with an equal passive care. The message is that if we don't care, why should anyone else? This one is easily forgotten in the band's discography but shouldn't be overlooked as it contains some great moments. The final 30 seconds provide a nice, understated ending.

`New Moon, Different Day' has an effects laden intro melding with some fine guitar playing. Again the overall album theme of nature shines through, Anneke giving the vocals a dreamy quality. The opening part is fairly dreary, shoe gazing stuff and it isn't until just before half way through that the song truly shines. The pace picks up, Anneke shows us her angelic tendencies, but this is all too brief. The narrator seems to put him/herself in the place of a God/force of nature/spirit passing over the land. Thankfully the middle section returns near the end to stop the song from being forgettable, the fast drums and guitars encouraging the crowd to headbang with glee.

`Third Chance' is one of the quickest songs the band has ever recorded, the version here is very good but my favourite is the one on Accessories. There Anneke sings in such a high key that you can't believe she'll ever make it through the song; of course, she does. This version is sung at a lower register but has all the energy, desperation, and pleading cries. The chorus here has more of a dance feel to it, at times the drums are almost disco. The guitars reign supreme here although there is an absence of fancy solo work. The soft break in the middle serves as a breather before the pace picks up again, the lyrics speaking of a final chance to avert disaster.

`Kevin's Telescope' opens in quite a loud fashion before unexpectedly turning into one of the most beautiful and touching songs the band has ever written. After the frantic nature of the previous song this is at the opposite end of the scale. Anneke belts out the tender lyrics about a child dreaming (possibly hinting at where the next album would take us), the themes are completely sincere, there is some trippy effects work and experimentation of sounds which would be prevalent in future releases. It is the melodies here though that stand out, instantly memorable, and the ending merging into the next song is also very nice.

`Nighttime Birds' as the title track features both the mellow and heavy parts of the album, mixing the traditional metal guitars with the effects of subsequent records. There is a strange middle part with eastern sounding noises which featured more prominently on Mandylion. Anneke sings well enough here, the song just doesn't engage me as much as the rest of the album, and apart from that middle section it is underwhelming. I do like the jagged guitar parts from 4.30- 5.10, but the melodies seem to drone too much.

`Shrink' is a brilliant closing song, a haunting piece of piano and vocal beauty. These moments would continue in future songs, but rarely are they bettered. The lyrics also work extremely well here, not just a collection of words inserted for the sake of it. There isn't a trace of guitars until the second half of the song, and even then they are simply a few sustained notes. This is one of the great moments when all the best talents of the band come together in perfect harmony to create an understated, anguish filled classic.

This special edition also contains some extra tracks and a second cd of demos, covers, and alternate versions. These had already appeared on the Accessories album which I'll be reviewing at some point.

The band by this stage have moved from strength to strength although the album suffers from perhaps being too downbeat and slow in places. The expectation after Mandylion was high and with all genre defining albums the follow up almost never lives up. Some albums collapse under the success of their predecessor but Nighttime Birds succeeds in being a great album if not exceptional. As with any Gathering album praising or dismissing it comes with your own mood at the time of listening. Sometimes you can't bear to hear the song you had loved the day before, while a song you had forgotten about may surprise you with its brilliance at another time. It was clear that the band were not going to make a sequel, striving to create something truly new and unique with each release. While this would alienate some fans those that stayed with the band would go on to form an even closer bond.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nighttime Birds., 12 July 2009
This review is from: Nighttime Birds (Audio CD)
"This is a re-review of The Gathering's `Nighttime Birds', the Dutch legends fourth studio full-length, and another evolving record. When I initially came across `Nighttime Birds', I was hugely disappointed. I remember the time well. I had heard `Mandylion', my first record from The Gathering, and was impressed with it, therefore I decided to check the rest of the band's material out, expecting it all to be similar to one another. I was in for a shock. `Nighttime Birds' is extremely different to `Mandylion' and every other record The Gathering have produced. This Dutch band have evolved from a lowly doom metal band, who were given much criticism for their amateurish sound, to this, an atmospheric gothic/rock band. The transformation was sudden, to me, as I didn't follow the bands transition from doom to gothic rock, or even their career at all to begin with. Having picked up on The Gathering in 2005, or so, I was out of my depth and the impact of `Mandylion' on my life, as well as my journey through metal, was immense.

So, to hear `Nighttime Birds', a far different record to the aforementioned, and the one's after it that I also loved, I was shocked and disappointed. The more aggressive style didn't suit my needs, having heard records like `How To Measure A Planet?' before it. I was taken aback and felt as if this record lacked a certain punch, as well as any characteristics that set it apart from other bands of a gothic nature, bands like the lacklustre Lacuna Coil, or the lackadaisical Nightwish, both of which I'm not fond of. `Nighttime Birds' originally struck me as lacking in creative juices but, in actual fact, this is a creative piece and a good one at that. Musically and emotionally I have matured. I have discovered what it is I like and why it is I like it. This very fact has established The Gathering as a sort of coming-of-age band for me. As my tastes evolved, The Gathering evolved with them and kept me satisfied for a number of years, in fact, they still do. It remains to be seen whether the Dutch outfit can maintain it's fan base due to the departure of Anneke, but regardless of that, this material will always exist, stretching out into history and beyond. Tracks like `The Earth Is My Witness' with it's fanciful ambitious nature establish the Dutch act as a experimental band without many limitations.

`Nighttime Birds' is, as aforementioned, a lot more aggressive than it is progressive in it's structure. To me, this record represents a new era for The Gathering. `Mandylion' should be viewed as experimental, sure, but also a naïve effort. The band weren't as established as musicians as they are now, or even when this effort was put out. One can tell that The Gathering have managed to find their sound and are shaping it into a form that suits their needs, as well as the audiences. Again, vocally, this record is strong. Anneke is known as one of the finest female vocalists in the industry, and even outside of it where she is involved in now. Although she may be participating in projects outside of this band, I will always remember her for her performances with The Gathering as they're so pivotal to the band, and her reputation as a leading artist. `Nighttime Birds', to me, doesn't represent her best work (that would be on `How To Measure A Planet?') but it does symbolise her own personal transformation as a singer. She has developed her own emotive style which, when situated next to the instrumentation, is neigh on perfection.

Songs like `The May Song' with it's fantastically bass driven soundscapes and stunning mellifluous leads, conquers over my initial perceptions of this record. From being largely disappointed, songs like this indicate to my fragile sense of knowledge, the inner and outer essences that make The Gathering as good as they most definitely are. The bass, for example. I never really took much notice of their bassist at first, not until recently actually, but now, wow. His performance on this record is top notch. The bass is always audible, due to the crystal clear production, and often leads the soundscapes by the hand on even more evocative emotional journey's. Whilst it is important to recognise the fact that The Gathering consist of more elements other than the vocals, it is still imperative to recognise the impact of the vocals. Instrumentally, this record is far from perfect, but it encompasses an astral sound, which makes me feel both nostalgic and reflective over my life, that is what makes this record a cut above the rest.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost Lost For Words...., 11 Sep 2011
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This review is from: Nighttime Birds (Audio CD)
A MUST......

One that will stun you first time round and never let you go. Ever. Hard to believe the first Album with Anneke ,Mandylion , had come out just a year or so before. Mandylion rather underwhelmed me , mostly down to some overlong tracks that somehow didnt let Anneke to really cut loose at full intensity like she does here. And how-few if any can say so much in so few words, or with such sustained passion.

One review calls this a more "aggressive" album. But that's completely the wrong word. This a dynamic , inventive and inspired album, but no way violent in tone. More an out of this world Shamanic Journeying almost zen-like feel, not least in the opener "On most surfaces (Inuit)", "The Earth Is My Witness" and the Title Track itself

...BUT WHICH ONE?

Amazon UK sell both a 1997 and a 2007 version. As you might guess from the 2 prices, 1997 is the 9 -track original single CD. 2007 is a Special Edition double with no less than 20 extra tracks of both demo and live versions of most of the originals, plus a couple of instrumentals and live show covers of other bands . As one earlier review notes, all these are also on their "Accessories"album, but unless you have that ,then the extras are well worth the extra.

You pays yer money, you takes yer choice ,,.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 4 Dec 2014
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cd with heavy sound and beautiful melodys, 18 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Night Time Birds (Audio CD)
This is there second cd with Anneke van Giersbergen. She has a beautiful voice and she is very important in gathering's sound. This is a good cd and have to buy it. It has got a dark and heavy sound, and on top Anneke's vocal which makes it very beautiful and atmospheric. When you listen to it you can almost feel like flying on the music. The only bad side is that it sholud have had some more variation in the music.
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Nighttime Bird by The Gathering (Audio CD - 2001)
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