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.