This album marks my first entry into the realm of The Gathering. I was drawn to explore this band for one reason: vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen. On this album, she doesn’t disappoint. Her vocals and choice of melody is what adds much of the colour to the songs, which tend to be rather minimalist and bare bones. Without her voice on this album, I’m not sure how I would appreciate these songs, as I’m sure they were written to showcase her stunning talent.
Unlike some other material by The Gathering, this one is not much of a metal album in the traditional sense. It relies more on the heaviness set by creating a dark mood and atmosphere as opposed to a heaviness brought about through dense, distorted riffing.
Most songs fit into relatively the same mould of clean guitar driven and quasi-ballad in structure, although the band makes rather liberal use of electronic effects and percussion, I’d say in more of a techno/dance/pop tradition as opposed to industrial. The track “Liberty Bell” is a good example of this.
My biggest problem with the album comes in the form of its 28 minute long title track. It’s pretty much an instrumental piece, which is not a bad thing, but it’s just not that interesting and is an anticlimactic way to end the album. Overall, I’d say I prefer the first disc easily over the second.
I’ll still classify How To Measure A Planet as an ok album, but it lacks focus in places, has limited appeal to those wanting or expecting something heavier, and it would benefit greatly with some trimming down to a single disc.