How to Measure a Planet?
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THE GATHERING - How to Measure a Planet? cover
3.35 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1998

Filed under Non-Metal


Disc 1
1. Frail (You Might as Well Be Me) (5:04)
2. Great Ocean Road (6:19)
3. Rescue Me (6:22)
4. My Electricity (3:32)
5. Liberty Bell (6:01)
6. Red Is a Slow Colour (6:25)
7. The Big Sleep (5:01)
8. Marooned (5:55)
9. Travel (9:06)

Total Time: 53:50

Disc 2
1. South American Ghost Ride (4:25)
2. Illuminating (5:41)
3. Locked Away (3:23)
4. Probably Built in the Fifties (7:26)
5. How to Measure a Planet? (28:32)

Total Time: 49:29


- Anneke van Giersbergen / Vocals, Guitar on "My Electricity" and "Locked Away"
- Frank Boeijen / Keyboards
- René Rutten / Guitar, Theremin on "Illuminating" and "Rescue Me", Digeridoo on
"Southe American Ghost Ride"
- Hans Rutten / Drums
- Hugo Prinsen Geerligs / Bass

About this release

Label: Century Media Records
Release Date: November 9, 1998

A single CD version was released in Japan, which does not include "How to Measure A Planet?".

Thanks to Stooge, adg211288 for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

The Gathering's How To Measure a Planet? is a bold and innovative departure for the band, who take on significant amounts of shoegaze influence (filtered through All About Eve) and amp up the electronic content and end up charting a course for the borderlands between the gothic metal of their previous albums and the uncharted expanses of post-rock and post-metal. Though it's a very mellow album, there's still a few more spritely compositions here and there - including the intense rockout of Probably Built In the Fifties. On the whole, this is precisely the departure from expectations The Gathering needed at this time.
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.
The T 666
Too long. That's the first idea that came to my mind while I was looking for a phrase to describe this album by THE GATHERING.

Now, how can an album ever be too long? That would certainly mean that there are set standards that artists and reviewers should follow to create and to judge records. Well, there aren't any. When an album seems too long to a listener, this is an entirely subjective appreciation based on the enjoyment he/she had while listening to the music and his/her perception of the speed at which time passed while doing it. While listening to this double-disc by the once-metal Dutch band, time passed slowly, extremely slowly. I realized that this effect was caused by the endless procession of slow, sedated, repetitive songs that clutter "How to Measure a Planet", my third, and probably my last experience with THE GATHERING.

This appreciation, again, is entirely my own. One can't come to a review and try to find pure objectivity on it, especially when it's written about something so subjective as music and art. There are cases, though, when it's easier to point out the details that should be evident to everyone, both converts and infidels alike. In this case, I have to mention the beautiful voice of Anneke van Giersbergen, clearly the highlight of this pseudo-interesting band. This same music without her voice would be utterly impossible to digest. There are also some good moments of music, and the band is clearly capable of delivering an ambient-atmospheric experience without much effort, but I'd love if they were also capable of writing a good melody or coming up with a really good riff, for a change.

This review may sound extremely negative and quite incongruent with the rating I'll award this record. It is neither. I'm pointing out my qualms about this album, but I'm sure a listener more used to this kind of "relaxing-rock-with-hints-of-metal" will enjoy the experience, even more so considering this is a double-album, a fact that, while tedious for me, will be very rewarding for fans of THE GATHERING. And about the rating, I will give the album a 2.5, because it express what is album is in a better way: a middle-of-the-road record, not harmful, not terrible, but not brilliant either.

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