I’m not at all surprised to see that New Jersey’s five-piece Gatherer has been making waves in the past year. New Jersey has been home of the greatest post-hardcore outfits of the last 20 years, and you can definitely hear the lineage in this band, harnessing almost Touche Amore-like lyrical content with an interestingly clean guitar tone, forming a sound one might associate with Pianos Become the Teeth’s heavier songs. Gatherer's newest release, Caught Between a Rock and a Sad Place, was released last week on their Bandcamp (link below), and I was eager to hear just how much the band evolved over this year.
There’s a certain ploy to shorter songs that I don’t normally like, personally. That being said, if there’s anybody that can do it right, Gatherer has proven to take that slot with this record. Not a single song clocks in over four minutes, with the majority of the tracks clocking in at two minutes a pop. That being said, there’s a structure to the songs that wasn’t apparent last I had heard from the band; the songs flow together from burst to burst in a fashion that makes the entire album flow cohesively. This trait is something I’d expect more so from a progressive metal band, let alone a post-hardcore outfit like this. It makes the record feel like a single 28-minute track, filled to the brim with interesting guitar riffs, surprisingly technical drumming and lyrical angst that one would expect from the likes of a Jersey band.
I would actually like to make special note of the vocals for this album because the new addition of cleans with this release is both the best and worst thing that Gatherer could have done. “I Have Seen Mountains” and “Campfires” both have decent potential for clean sections instrumentally, but vocalist Christian Berrigan seems to have a hard time deciding when to give softer cleans compared to his heart-wrenching screams. At the same time, “And Now Everyone Sings the Blues” uses clean vocals efficiently and to great effect with the lyrics. In addition, the song “Death Bed” has a section which seems perfect for a clean vocal, or possibly group shouting section, which is disregarded for Berrigan’s screams again. It could just be my personal taste with these sections, but there are parts where the screams don’t fit in and pull you away from the emotion you are feeling from the instruments, mentally distancing you from whatever the song’s emotional overtone may have been.
Though these issues are hard to get past, there are still several tracks that not only save the album, but also push it further than I could’ve ever expected. “And Now Everyone Sings the Blues,” “Ocean Floor,” the short and aggressive “Brittle Bones” and the finale titled “He Went Down There to Die” are songs that can give Gatherer the push needed towards breaking into the scene. “Brittle Bones,” the shortest track on the record (clocking in at 1:52), almost feels like They’re Only Chasing Safety-era UnderOath in the beginning, but is able to divert itself just enough to give the song its originality back and traps a lot of that energy built up in a less aggressive beat up until the very end, where its unleashed later on in the next track, “Ocean Floor.” This track-to-track flow is hard to achieve on an album, but Gatherer does this consistently throughout its entirety.
Caught Between a Rock and a Sad Place is going to turn some heads, and there’s no doubt about that. If Gatherer can keep this momentum going, get a couple more tours lined up and have a bit of luck along the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the band up there with the likes of its post-hardcore predecessors, as well as treading ground that Thursday, Senses Fail, Glassjaw and several more never got the chance to walk.
Links: Facebook - Bandcamp