Like some of you, I took a while getting into them thinking they'd be more metal or loud alt-guitar, so this would have been a good starting place for me. Might be my favorite The Gathering release.
The Gathering is too often titled as a metal band, when in fact they started going into more experimental direction after Mandylion. And since How to Measure a Planet they started doing this Radiohead/Massive Attack-type of alt rock some have called "trip rock". More neoprog and even triphop-influences instead of that doom/goth-style they had when they began. Quite similar approach to Anathema, IMO, they are like musical cousins.
With this many changes in a bands musical style, it takes a while to fully enjoy their catalogue. And yes, Travel is a masterpiece.
To be honest, I feel The Gathering's greatest achievement gets consistently overlooked.
That would be successfully ripping off The Serpent's Egg-era Dead Can Dance (released 23 years ago today!).
Lot of people have tried, but I think only The Gathering in the title track to Mandylion managed to pulled it off.
I think reusing the DoD formula to the letter (complete with vocalizations, african drums and synth pads) without sounding like a third-rate imitator is something to be very very proud of.
For hew uninitiated, compare: