01. On A Wave 02. The Blue Vessel 03. Her Last Flight 04. The Sky People 05. Nobody Dares 06. Like Fountains 07. Proof 08. Heartbeat Amplifier 09. A Passage To Desire
"Almost A Dance" is the second full-length album of the Dutch group The Gathering. The album is a step into a very different dimension from the doom-death metal realm the band dwelt in during their early years. Bart Smits and Marike Groot had left the crew and new singers had arrived. Namely Niels Duffhues and Martine Van Loon.
The idea remained the same. Just as on "Always" there are male vocals supported by female singing from behind a shadowy veil. This time, however, the male vocals belong to a different category. Instead of death grunts Niels Duffhues uses his own slightly peculiar way of singing. At some moments it may be compared to the male vocals of the band Entwine. Martine Van Loon sings well though her voice lacks the colours which were present in Anneke Van Giersbergen's performances.
What is positive speaking of this release is that the music and style is clearly developing in a positive way. The roots of the fine original work the band later did with Anneke can be followed listening to this album of the year 1993. The style similar to Beseech is present in some sequences of the instrumental texture, the guitar riffs and melodies. The synthesizer passages may be compared to Entwine again.
What are the minuses of the release is clear. The reason why Niels and Martine quit the band after the release of "Almost A Dance" was supposedly the fact that they didn't fit the band's style. That was true, they wouldn't have reached that high level of theirs without Anneke's talent. "Almost A Dance" isn't very ripe yet. Many tracks are in danger of qualifying as simple fillers though the exceptional tracks have very good musical passages in them. The instrumental progress is there and Niels can do good things with his voice.
The tracks which make this album worth listening are the following. "The Blue Vessel" excels with it's catchy melody and good guitar riffs and synthesizer passages. Niels sounds passionate and does a very fine job. "Nobody Dares" is an interesting try of making a slower track similar to a country ballade. Niels manages well the calm and thoughtful vocals this song requires. "Like Fountains" is the best track of the album and one of the highlights of the whole work of all the years The Gathering has been active. Passionate, dark and catchy in its essence. Niels and Martine sound the best in this song. Anneke's performances during the later years reveal even more positive characteristics this song possesses.
All in all it's still sad to say that out of all albums of the band this one may not be the best one. Though Niels and Martine did a fine job the overall structure and performance remains a bit colourless compared to the later works recorded with Anneke Van Giersbergen. Nevertheless one won't lose anything while listening to this piece.