The name Anneke van Giersbergen may not ring many bells among a lot of rock fans, but when you realise this is the voice which helped make The Gathering such a cult favourite across the globe for over a decade (and more recently shone as part of The Devin Townsend Project) you know this is not a lady to be taken lightly. While possessing one of the most iconic female vocals of the last few decades and a hugely impressive history of work, Anneke has never stopped doing what she loves and continues to move forward with her solo career rather than live on her past success. Anyone picking up Drive expecting another offering of progressive post rock brilliance along the lines of The Gathering will be surprised by what they find as Anneke fully embraces a more pop/rock style with incredibly catchy songs fuelled by brilliant riffs and pounding drums throughout.,
Opening the album is We Live On which musically is very reminiscent of the likes of some of The Killers work with a very anthemic feel thanks to the vocals being given plenty of space to shine and that’s definitely what happens. A voice shows no signs of diminishing whatsoever…epic. Treat Me Like A Lady is less of a radio friendly song with a more meaty riff providing a perfect punch to this fight to be taken seriously and not pushed aside, showing off the feisty side of Anneke. And in contrast we have the sugary pop of title track Drive which will be stuck in your head for days thanks to one of the catchiest choruses we’ve heard this year. In amongst the infectious pop-rock hides a beautiful piano driven ballad in the form of My Mother Said, a beautiful tribute to a constant source of belief and support in the form of her mother; it’s definitely one of the highlights and shows that Anneke needs nothing more than her voice to shine. The heaviest moment – and definite standout track for us – is Mental Jungle which has a bit of a Lacuna Coil feel to it, especially with the male vocals which give it a completely different feel to the rest of the album but without seeming out of place somehow. The whole album is filled with songs that will have you dancing, singing along or tapping your feet. And with songs like You Will Never Change and the groove-laden album closer The Best Is Yet To Come there is plenty to enjoy musically about this album, though the star is undoubtedly the voice of Anneke which powers this album throughout this triumphant return to form.
Trying to come out of the shadow of a huge previous career can be tough and rather than yearn for a return to The Gathering we hope the world will embrace this new stage of the career of Anneke van Giersbergen and give her a chance, because with Drive she has put together one of the album highlights of the year. And despite veering dangerously close to being a pop album this has enough bite to still fall under the category of rock. To still be evolving so impressively after over 20 years in music is quite a feat and we can’t wait to see what Anneke has in store because we feel the best really is yet to come.
Standout Track: Mental Jungle
For fans of: The Gathering , Within Temptation
Written by: Andy Wilkinson