VUUR is the new band of internationally beloved Anneke van Giersbergen. She had her breakthrough with ‘The Gathering’ in the prog-metal scene. Anneke also cooperated several times with Arjen Lucassen, for example on the Ayreon CD ‘Into The Electric Castle (1998)’. Also two years ago with The Gentle Storm: ‘The Diary’. Anneke likes contrasts: heavy versus acoustic. For ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’ she has captured the vibe of various cities into music and text. This applies to both the overwhelming moments, and the opposite feeling of being a stranger in a big city.
The instrumental intro of ‘My Champion – Berlin’ is not extremely heavy, but it is clear that we can expect ‘heavy stuff’. There is played with the balance in the headset on an amusing way. The balance between the (tight) rhythm and the melody is fine. An impressive mix between heavy strings and screaming guitars, and between metal versus lighter music. Anneke lets these elements come back in her singing. All this is complemented by drummer Ed Warby: Thundering drums where it can be played and tight or just softly where it should. This opening track is so sublime that you almost forget how complicated it is.
Also ‘Time – Rotterdam’ has a rather heavy intro. But it is different from ‘Berlin’. The quietly played and sung part is fantastic! I get goosebumps on my arms. The metal influences follow quite fast. Full of disbelief I listen to what comes down to me. It is unimaginable what Anneke can do with her voice. This is enhanced by a passionate way of playing by the men. This is fantastic. Anneke’s high vocals in ‘The Fire – San Francisco’ are elevated. It’s hard to contain: Such an unbelievably high range and sung crystal clear! Music and singing are in constant harmony.
Freedom – Rio’ starts acoustic. The way in which pace and volume increase is a little predictable. Smooth guitar playing is mixed and alternated with metal. Sometimes these are only minimal metal fragments. This interaction between light and heavy is brilliant. The background singing fuses perfectly with the rest. The dreamy end is special. Anneke holds some words and / or syllables. At other times she sings quickly. Because of this complex construction it takes some time to sing along with the lyrics. But with the “Ahaaaa ahaaa” in “Days Go By – London” you tend to sing along, especially when the backing vocals participate in this.
The strings give ‘Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki’ a melancholic intro. The build-up to metal I would have expected more uniquely. The way in which the layers of singing and music are balanced over the headphones make this little disappointment quite up. The decrescendo is great. The combination of vocals and strings creeps under my skin. Unfortunately, the track is fading so fast. This could have lasted longer! A few subtle layers of music and Anneke’s voice at the start of ‘Reunite!’ – Paris’ give me goosebumps again. An extra layer is put by the vocals. A gorgeous buildup to full power. With this phenomenal track, the CD has ended. This tastes for more, I push play again.
The sound quality and balance on the headphones/speakers are very good. Some single part of a track or change in music is a bit predictable. There are especially many good pieces of music. Attention for air drummers: the rhythms are often different than expected. Also the bass and guitar parts are quite complicated. Anneke’s singing is of sublime level. Here you hear a top band. Now, hope that there will be an extensive tour in the Netherlands!
(93/100, InsideOut Music)
1 My Champion – Berlin 07:36
2 Time – Rotterdam 06:40
3 The Martyr And The Saint – Beirut 05:35
4 The Fire – San Francisco 04:47
5 Freedom – Rio 06:06
6 Days Go By – London 06:30
7 Sail Away – Santiago 06:00
8 Valley Of Diamonds – Mexico City 06:25
9 Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki 05:32
10 Save Me – Istanbul 05:05
11 Reunite! – Paris 04:39
Anneke van Giersbergen – vocals
Ed Warby – drums
Jord Otto – guitars
Ferry Duijsens – guitars
Johan van Stratum – bass