In support of their new LP, “We Are Alive Beyond Repair,” Gatherers have embarked on a national tour that brings them June 6 to The Saint in Asbury Park.
If you took The Cure and Radiohead, stabbed them in the hearts and guts, sprayed their blood and entrails all over the floor and let their fans wrestle in them, Gatherers would make the perfect soundtrack. Too intense? Well, Gatherers are a brutally intense, beautifully morbid band.
On We Are Alive Beyond Repair — their fourth studio collection, third LP and second full-length for hardcore legend Ray Cappo’s Equal Vision label following 2015’s Quiet World — the Bayonne-based five-piece are super-tight and technically superb. This especially true of bassist Matt Popowski, whose fat fluidness adds greatly to many of the 11 tracks. I also love the way guitarists Rob Talalai and Anthony Gesa battle each other, like two opposing war planes crashing into the sea at the same time, while drummer Adam Cichocki holds their creative chaos together with the precision of a machine and the soul of Babatunde Olatunji.
But at the front and center of Gatherers is vocalist, lyricist and synth player/sequencer Rich Weinberger. He matches the band’s range from melodic to pummeling with equally varied and dynamic vocals, dark to light keyboard patches, and eerie, gloomy insights that recall the inventive minds and tortured souls of Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath.
Like Toothgrinder vocalist Justin Matthews, Weinberger has this incredible ability to go from high-pitched sweetness to low guttural growl. The best example is “Ann Liv Young” in which he goes back and forth in those vocal styles within seemingly impossible seconds of each other. Yet, he also can pull it off live.
“Lambs to the Chapel” also mixes it up, going from a frightening, blood-curdling final verse into a hauntingly acoustic conclusion. Other standout tracks include the closing “Starve,” which features a beautifully expressive ending that sounds as if Weinberger is pleading with someone who is holding a gun to his head.
The single, “The Floorboards Are Breathing,” mixes the synth-driven, guitar-echoing alt-dance vibe of mid- to late-80s The Cure with Edgar Allan Poe’s sense of the macabre. The gruesome, eerie tune was inspired by a 2007 HBO documentary about a wife, who, after years of domestic abuse against her and her son, snapped and killed her husband with a hammer.
The equally emotional “Every Pain in Monochrome” draws its sad, violent story from British author Virginia Woolf, who took her life by filling her pockets with stones and walking into a river. Similarly, for the eternally morose “Infinity & Gloom,” Weinberger draws his inspiration from and pays tribute to sad lass Sylvia Plath, an influential mid-20th century poet.
Great as this record is, Gatherers are even better live, especially because of Weinberger’s use of sequencers. Upcoming shows will include June 6 at The Saint in Asbury Park; June 7 at the Mercury Lounge in New York; June 8 at the Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia; and July 21 at the Amityville Music Hall in Amityville, N.Y.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. And like Makin Waves at facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.