Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
The Gathering - If_Then_Else CD (album) cover


The Gathering

Experimental/Post Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars I'm a bit surprised no one reviewed this one yet, for it's an excellent addition to any progrock-collection. If Then Else may not be their best album, but it shows more confidence and direction than the meandering How To Measure A Planet? (which I actually and strangely enough like more for that reason). There's not a single bad track on the album, but also no real highlights. Amity and Saternine would come close, but I also quite like Herbal Movement and Analog Park. Great track-titles btw. Worst cover ever on the other hand.
Report this review (#51425)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars With this album, The Gathering finally settled their sound. More instruments are used here and the result is a mix of rock and electronic music. I'd say I prefer the Mandylion/Nighttime Birds era for the voice of Anneke van Giersbergen has lost a bit of power.

My highlights on this album would be "Rollercoaster", "Amity", "Analog Park" (three mellow songs) and "Saturnine" (nice progressive song). "Beautiful War" is a short instrumental that shows that The Gathering still know how to get heavy at times.

Rating: 85/100

Report this review (#65554)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Please allow me to quickly just list my ratings for the previous album they did, it might help intruducing my review: ALWAYS & ALMOST A DANCE = (1), MANDYLION & NIGHTIME BIRDS = (4), HOW TO MEASUE A PLANET = (3 ... 4 for disc 1 of HTMAP)

I do understand whoever calls IF THEN ELSE the peak of THE GATHERING albums, although I am not entirely happy with the direction being taken. On HTMAP they experimented with new sounds, electronic samples and stuff. This made it interesting indeed but gave you a certain feeling of "they are trying out something" ... well I guess this is simply the meaning of the word "experimental". It seems that now they feel very comfortable and mature with these new elements. It turned out to be a calmer album, more mellow than the three before. The songs are of a high quality, the vocals still enchanting and most of all: it is a very round album, not diverse, a union - very much on the spot.

Difficult to pick out songs, choose your own faves. While I personally miss the strong presence of the guitar displayed on earlier recordings, I can't help to admit that it's almost impossible not to get caught ... or "enchanted", so you shouldn't miss checking it out.

Report this review (#88170)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the rather toned-down How To Measure A Planet? If_Then_Else is a return to a heavier sound. However this means in no way that the band returns to the sound of Mandylion and Nighttime Birds, instead they mix some modern rock influences (Smashing Pumpkins?) in the music, particularly in the first half.

On the other hand, several ballads are present as well. Amity could have been on HTMAP? as well, but songs like Morphia's Waltz and Saturnine follow a definite new path and are a bit more coming from the chamber pop corner.

Not a very accessible record (a trend they settled on HTMAP?, to follow for future albums, save perhaps for Souvenirs), but in the end one of the best records from this amazing Dutch band.

Report this review (#120883)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Another fantastic release from THE GATHERING. After the atmospheric and experimental "How To Measure A Planet ?" the band blends the sounds of that double record with the heaviness of "Nighttime Birds" and "Mandylion".The results are amazing ! I'm not sure if I like the more metal tracks or the atmospheric ones because both are so well done.

"Rollercoaster" opens with an atmospheric soundscape that is blown away 30 seconds in by the heavy riffs in this mid-paced tune.There is some orchestration on this one as well as double tracked vocals. "Shot To Pieces" opens with some distorted guitar as heavy drums and bass come into this uptempo song. "Amity" is all about the vocals as the drums beat slowly and steadily. "Bad Movie Scene" is fairly mellow for 90 seconds when the same melody gets much more intense. "Colorado Incident" opens with heavy drums and guitars.There is a tasteful guitar solo after 2 minutes. Great vocals again as well as hammond organ.

"Beautiful War" is an instrumental that is quite heavy and like the other instrumental "Pathfinder" there are french horns and trombone. This one also has aboe and cello. "Analog Park" features fender rhodes piano, drums and vocals, with some riffing later. "Herbal Movement" is a lazy, dreamy song as one might imagine given it's title. Also in keeping with this theme there is a sample from the movie "Alice In Wonderland". The song does get passionate before it ends. "Saturnine" is my favourite song on this record.The vocals are heartbreaking and the riffs come and go throughout the song. Violin is added as well. "Morphia's Waltz" has a waltz-like melody. This is a real toe tapper.

I still prefer "How To Measure A Planet ?" to this one but I highly recommend this recording. Anneke as usual can soften the hardest heart with her warm, angelic vocals.

Report this review (#123132)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars If_Then_Else is my favourite Gathering pick, it rocks, it has atmosphere, gorgeous vocals, rich sounds and above all excellent songs. The album title could have been better though, I don't like being reminded of work when I'm enjoying music!

Each individual track is an adventure. It starts with the stately pounding Rollercoaster, where the Gathering continues the sonic experimentations of the previous How To Measure A Planet, which was a crucial album in their development from melodic doom flavoured metal to something we will call trip-rock, a rocking marriage of trip-hop and space-rock. The dramatic tone and sophisticated arrangement of Rollercoaster is an exemplary achievement in that development.

Shot To Pieces picks up some speed and is one of the most rocking songs they ever did. It is followed by the tender Amity, one of the most beautiful songs in their catalogue. Anneke Van Giersbergen spins her stunning and sensual vocals around a Massive Attack trip-hop beat. There are some occasional vibes, a spacey guitar loop and a blanket of strings in the middle. It's all very minimal but deadly effective.

The Gathering has come a long way since their first album with Anneke Van Giersbergen. The band has converted themselves from a modest doom metal workout into a highly inventive team. Also Anneke's vocals have matured a lot, she uses her powerful chords only scarcely now, only to lay a dramatic accent within songs, such as halfway in Bad Movies Scene and Colorado Incident. Mostly she sings very dynamically, melodious and sensitive. The most spine-chilling moments come in the cleverly sequenced tracks Analog Park and Herbal Movement, both offering textured rock with a delightful balance of experimentalism and catchiness. Also the three last tracks count among their best work.

This album doesn't offer classic proggy features, so you shouldn't visit it on those terms. It's rock with sophisticated sonic experimentations, touching melodic melancholy and a genre challenging stance. Tempted?

Besides, who wouldn't want to hear Tori Amos fronting a space-trip version of Radiohead? Now what are you waiting for?

Report this review (#264133)
Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a way to open the 21st century! What an album! What unexpected variety! From heavy ("Shot to Pieces," "Colorado Incident") to dreamy ("Herbal Movement," "Morphias Waltz," and "Pathfinder"), loud to subtle soft (often within the same song!)--and so EMOTIONAL! Such beautiful vocals! In my opinion, this is the best of THE GATHERING's contributions to the music world. Superlatives are necessary to describe the likes of "Rollercoaster" (9/10) "Amity" (10/10) "Beautiful War" (9/10), "Analog Park" (10/10), "Saturnine" (10/10) and especially my favorite Gathering song of all-time, "Herbal Movement" ("makes everything hazy"--and gives me the feeling that I, too, had taken the hookah.) Can't say enough about the inclusion of synths, classical acoustic instruments, and alternating heavy-yet-subtle and sublime-yet-heart-wrenching themes within individual songs (like "Rollercoaster," "Beautiful War," and "Saturnine"). I love this album. A prog masterpiece? I guess not--it's progginess is in question. As BONNEK said, lots of experimentation with sound but not truly an effort that challenges musical form and constructs.

4.5 stars--adventurous, mature and consistently high, just not innovative "progressive" enough.

Still: Highly Recommended!

Report this review (#308377)
Posted Friday, November 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars To my ears, The Gathering's If_Then_Else is a retrograde step when compared to the wonderful How to Measure a Planet? Where the preceding album was an adventurous exploration of the very limits of the gothic metal genre with heaps of influence from other musical tradition besides, If_Then_Else seems to be an attempt to creep back towards the band's comfort zone with a few embellishments from the genres they dabbled in earlier retained. It's a pleasant enough listen, but The Gathering can and have done so much better than this fairly unambitious work. Get it if you can't get enough of the Anneke-fronted incarnation of the band.
Report this review (#639203)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
4 stars The album title may sound as if it had come from one of my Rexx programs, but the music is much more interesting than that. In Anneke, they have one of the most interesting female rock vocalists, and they use her range to provide superb counterpoint to what is happening beneath. This is a strange album in many ways, and while all of the songs would fit under the banner 'rock', these are much more than the antics of five people from Holland left alone with amplification. Even though they sound nothing like Björk, I could see her adapting some of these songs. "Bad Movie Scene" is a case in point. It may be under four minutes long, but it is full of melodrama and passion, and Thom Yorke would love it.

They use distortion to good effect, and the impression at the end of the album is that of not fully having understood all that is going on. It means that the only course of action is to play it again, in the hope of gaining the full meaning of the music. Do that six or seven times in succession then possibly, just possibly, you may get your head inside the music. Compelling and wonderful ? not an album to be taken lightly or after a big meal.

Originally appeared in Feedback #61, Feb 01

Report this review (#968436)
Posted Saturday, June 1, 2013 | Review Permalink

THE GATHERING If_Then_Else ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of THE GATHERING If_Then_Else

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives