1990 - An Imaginary Symphony /
2001 - Downfall - The Early Years
|Holland's premier band, The Gathering, have always been a continual guarantee for both creatively challenging and special releases. The band's early Celtic Frost/Hellhammer-inspired music was as welcomed as it was primitively heavy, and their transformation into a more atmospherically and euphorically rocking outfit brought even more wonder, amazement and adoration from their growing fan-base. Now the most successful Dutch rock act going, The Gathering once again unveil a new masterpiece, the curiously titled if_then_else. Expanding on the foundation set by the band's fifth release and first double-album, How to Measure a Planet?, the band's new opus has a heavier overall feel to it, while the intense texturing and astounding progressions of the band's sound are still very present.
Where as How to Measure... contained a sense of "traveling" running throughout [both physically and emotionally] if_then_else's title offers, more than anything else, this theme: Criticism towards a type of logic which not only controls a machine but also the thinking patterns of modern civilization and mankind.
Following the first two albums Always... and Almost a Dance [which were still pretty much rooted within the gothic-doom underground scene], the addition of the amazingly talented and charismatic vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen started the band's ascension to the top of the progressive rock and metal scene. A great reason for this success is the band's first Century Media album, Mandylion, and its stylistically similar follow-up release Nighttime Birds.
Countless festival appearances and touring helped support both albums as the band's appeal continued to grow throughout the world. At that point The Gathering stood at what could be seen as the first crossroads of their career: They were successful, but nevertheless they felt trapped in a artistically-controlled corner, which was very limited and small due to the high expectations from their fan-base. The result: How to Measure a Planet?, a double-album which vastly expanded The Gathering's creative spectrum and style.
Innovative recording techniques, a will to experiment, lust for a pure sound and a turning away from the standard structuring of a rock song were the most dominant elements on How to Measure a Planet?. It was a risky album but in the end proved to be incredibly rewarding with its ethereally dramatic elements and inspiring hooks. The band's dreamy melodies, pounding rhythms and angelic vocal lines captivated their audiences during the countless shows the band played in support of the album [including their first tour of the US, highlighted by a spectacular set at the 1999 Milwaukee Metal Fest] and again on the subsequent release, Superheat, the band's first official live album.
The progression of The Gathering's music has been nothing short of inspiring, and once again the band deliver a new album full of sensational melodies, seasoned playing and some of the most creative hard rock songwriting around. The eleven songs on if_then_else were again mixed by the band's partner Attie Bauw at Bauwhaus Studios/Amsterdam but the actual recording of the material took place in two different small Dutch studios [Studio S & K in Doetinchem and Studio Koeienverhuurbedrijf in Purmerend] in a completely 'live' setting. Consequently, some interesting and diverse sound-collages blend with untamed strength throughout the new album, bringing their ethereal magic to the forefront once again. The musical spectrum of the record is enormous; from the deeply atmospheric, electro-influenced songs to the more driving, metallic-rock numbers, the band's new offering is a pleasure for all fans of The Gathering's material.
if_then_else is an analog wall of sound; pure emotion reveling in a dreamland of rhythms and tones while lyrically giving proof that up-to-date technology doesn't necessarily ruin timeless beauty.