Well, everybody who's halfway a music maniac has its difficulties to name its absolute favourite album. I would say, personally this depends a lot to my mood, but there's one thing that I know for sure: "How To Measure A Planet?" belongs in any case to my absolute favourites.
I will need some time for this pretty uncommon album, because it took also a lot of time, to "understand" this album halfway. But one thing is sure: although I had listen to this record a lot of times (equally if CD 1 or 2), every time I wonder about this musical brilliancy and I am fascinated again and again. So, that's nothing for those, who believe that music is made as background music for humankind.
As it's generally known, THE GATHERING started as a Death Metal band, but they changed their sound basically after the second work and with the entry of the new singer Anneke van Giersbergen, the Dutch had such a big luck. But after the in the Metal scene beloved records "Mandylion" and "Nighttime Birds", the message was again: "Only who changes itself, stays true to its own!"
So, they worked out their altogether fifth record "How To Measure A Planet?". And this has a lot to offer. It's hard to describe stylistically, but honestly, "there rocks not very much", as Rock Hard writer Boris Kaiser hit the nail on the head. They are more on a certain Ambient level, as you could call it so beautifully. However, THE GATHERING also live from the emotions and feelings, which their figurehead van Giersbergen offers in their singing. Pretty simply appearing songs like "Rescue Me", "My Electricity", "The Big Sleep" or "Locked Away" are ennobled to jewels by the very expressive voice of the front woman. But it's always really ingenious, when the band gleams with often simple- appearing, but pretty effective melodies besides the insane voice of Anneke. Perfectly executed for example in "Red Is A Slow Colour": at first, you are struck by the pretty intensively sung parts and at the end, they enchant this song additionally with pretty exciting melodies. The total quality of Anneke, whose singing at first seems rather normal or unspectacular and has to be discovered, is best shown in my absolute favourites "Travel" and "Probably Built In The Fifties". You must heard it!
THE GATHERING make clear, that the girl is their sound trademark and the songs are mostly arranged for her parts. Who spends a lot of time with this album will ask itself, how it will be possible to play this live, because they often use strange appearing effects, which do often drown the conventional instruments. I just can recommend the live album "Superheat", which contains six songs of this double CD. Double-CD is a good catchword: at first, the band wanted to release only the first disc and the second as bonus or something (as limited edition or so), but thankfully, they decided to release the double CD serially. Furthermore, exactly that more than half a hour lasting title track, which finishes the second CD, belongs in my opinion to one of the absolute most innovative and most uncommon songs ever. In the first eight minutes, they start very quite, then joins the guitar and it ends with an indescribable "final", which has such a special feeling through Anneke, although she sings not one real line, no she, ehm, well, listen to it for yourself and then you will understand what I mean. Honestly, after this eight minutes I always stop the CD, because then follows ten minutes of pure strange noises and then the melody of the beginning comes to life again for a short time before it turns out into more noises again. But those first minutes are just insane and always, when I listen to it, I have my pretty own video clip in my mind, which I don't want to tell. In any case, with this illusionary imagination, I always get a fat goose bump and this is something, you'll never get from just one damn clip on MTV or VIVA!!!
Okay, I want to bring it to the end: this album lives from its atmosphere, from its expressiveness and I think, that everybody, who spends time with this one will see, hear and experience this in a different view (best to enjoy under your headphones). Surely, this record polarizes a lot. Many will describe this record as very boring, even if they have listen to it ten times or so, but I defy this album and I will also defy it, when all my teeth have fallen out and I spend my time with rolling on the veranda on Sunday afternoons. (Online June 18, 2003)