The real joy of The Gathering is determining what a crew is capable of when their underground skills earn them access to an overground studio (Encore—Dr. Dre, Eminem) and professional mastering (Mike Lazer—Gnarls Barkley). In short, the new Living Legends sound is big. The eight emcees take pride that The Gathering features every emcee on every song. On a slim seven tracks, what could easily have been a sonic clusterfuck becomes a lesson in economic near-perfection. The title track bursts with energy boasting an Eligh beat that Murs absolutely slaughters. Even Grouch’s lame “Pants on Fire” clunker sounds OK underneath the verbal depth of these masterful rappers. From the political “War & Peace” to a sappier “After Hours (Extended Euromix),” The Gathering is a definite highlight of ’08.