One of Holland's most innovative progressive metal bands, The Gathering, was Europe's Evanescence before Evanescence was cool. Their first album was 1993's Always, and it didn't perform as well as they'd hoped. They replaced their vocalist with Niels Duffhues, but fans didn't find him a good fit for the band. Finally, they settled on Anneke van Giersbergen, who had a strong and dramatic-sounding voice, and had the distinction of being a woman as compared to their previous male vocalists. Not many bands can switch vocalist genders and carry on, but in this instance The Gathering had found their sound. They would go on to release 7 more albums since then, with their most recent being 2006's Home, for which they are currently promoting on their Homelands world tour.
It's not often a band switches out a male vocalist for a female (or vice-versa)-in fact, it's a musical rarity. But in The Gathering's case, it was a brilliant move, and it turned the band around from a run-of-the-mill death metal group into an artistic and respected powerhouse. Anneke van Giersbergen was the perfect ingredient to lyrically and vocally compliment the band's songwriting prowess, and the pairing has resulted in borderline-genius results. The group may retain their European roots but metal fans the world over owe it to themselves to 'gather' around and give their music a chance.