How to Measure a Planet? (Century Media)
by Martin Popoff
Well, this unique co-ed batch of bong artists has just gotten more unique (I know, grammatical and logical impossibility), and off-the-chart way less metal. I guess, soaking up all that press about Anneke van Giersbergen’s sweet soul-redeemer vocals has caused the band to drop to their arsenals and let her croon away alone, save for loping, unplugged, keyboard-woven trance-along backtracks. So the spiffy graphics support this abandonment of metal, and the cryptic waffle-minded lyrics sound great from said hummingbird throat. But two discs of this mesmer-fogged claptrap is too much. Shoulda been an edited single, with great white gods like “Frail (You Might As Well Be Me)” and personal fave, “Great Ocean Road” (love that deathbed buzz section at 3:21), leading the way as they (surprise) do here.
Come to think of it, just drop-kick (too violent: float down a dreamy stream) that second disc, given that most of it is like an extended airport wait at Christmas: too hot with all that clothing and far too many white people. In fact, most of disc one is a quiet, unexcited, crystal shop joy, and likely destined to be allowed to live by the critics, given the band’s courage to change completely, plus the crafty fact that The Gathering are a welcome respite to all the hammery iron that will, at least for this one more record, be its competition.
(2323 W. El Segundo Blvd. Hawthorne, CA 90250)