"Maybe we have exaggerated it a little bit", said the Dutch THE GATHERING in their restrospect about their masterpiece "How To Measure A Planet?", the previous record of "If_Then_Else". Well, the transition from former Gothic Metal to a decent experimental Rock was a big jump, every of the elder fans can confirm that, but the sympathetic sixpack shouldn't apologize for that. They should rather apologize themselves for "If_Then_Else", there was more possible. I think, that the bad conscience they had after exacerbating some Gothic fans, led them to have again more rocking sounds on "If_Then_Else". Just listen to the first two tracks, the infatuating "Rollercoaster" and the driving "Shot To Pieces".
The songs can be divided into two categories: on one hand the experimental, playful and mad songs and on the other hand the direct, catchy and understandable tracks. Bad? No, but the album has no consistent direction, it lacks of some compactness. Like said before, I think that the band was a bit surprised of themselves after the sensational "How To...?" and so, they unfortunately recorded some alibi songs, too. Midwhile ("Souvenirs"), they decided for one direction (namely the mostly experimental one) and so one should forgive them their faults on this record.
Musicwise there are, despite the forementioned, some of the best tracks, the band, which in the meantime acts as an independent band with an own label (maybe they were also under pressure by the record label at that time), have ever written: "Amity" is one of the most graceful songs, I've ever heard, it has a sparse instrumentation and the song enchants you with the divine vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen. Just imagine that song in small, smoky club... uh, goose flesh alert. Or take the versatile "Analog Park", it starts calm, increases more and more and sprays out a dramatic, dithyrambic feeling. The track leads directly into another highlight called "Herbal Movement". Jesus, why do some people take drugs? Just lie down in bed, take your phones and if this song won't take you to another level, you just have to be dead. This trip is followed by the more native "Saturnine". One can attach the bands' compositions for being a bit unwieldy but on this track, one can go along with just with the first listen, though the song is melancholic indeed. Concering "Saturnine", one can thank the parents of Miss van Giersbergen once again, for creating such a talented being.
Maybe one should regard "If_Then_Else" as transition, a transition towards musical independence. Who knows, what to expect from this band in the future... (Online September 4, 2003)