Dutch vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen is easily one of the hardest working people in music, and an artist that defies being pigeonholed by genre. She will forever be known as the vocalist for melancholic metallers The Gathering, but since striking out on her own in 2007, she has solidified a solo career, recorded and performed multiple times with Canadian metal genius Devin Townsend, launched the prog rock band The Gentle Storm, and recorded an album with Icelandic folk group Árstíðir. This has provided Anneke with a huge catalogue to choose from as a live performer, but it has also created a certain amount of confusion amongst her fans which has led to the creation of a new band, VUUR, a new band that features some of the best heavy metal players in the Netherlands.
In early 2016, Anneke decided for the sake of clarity to narrow her musical focus, choosing to go in a folk acoustic direction as a solo artist and in a heavy progressive metal direction as a band vocalist. The name VUUR - translated from Dutch as "fire", which can also be interpreted to mean "passion" or "drive" - was chosen as a moniker to represent Anneke's metal side, with the idea that when fans buy a ticket with the VUUR name on it they will be getting her heavy progressive music, while an Anneke van Giersbergen show will be entirely different.
"It's like I'm searching for contradictions," Anneke says of splitting her focus in two. "I want the heavy to be really heavy, and the soft acoustic stuff that I can do can be almost silent and inward. I'm trying to find those outer limits. I'm still writing and collaborating with different people, so VUUR's style is still kind of different from The Gathering and The Gentle Storm. You could say VUUR's music has the melancholy of The Gathering and certain elements from The Gentle Storm, but it's darker with fewer folk elements. It's still melodic and warm, but heavy."
The Gentle Storm proved to Anneke that fans have been waiting for her to go back to the heavy progressive style of music, which is why VUUR came to be.
VUUR will release their full length debut in the fall of 2017 produced by Joost van den Broek, who will also be involved in some of the writing and arranging. From there the band will hit stages across Europe and beyond. Make no mistake: VUUR is a band and not a project, meaning that Anneke will focus on new material as well as the heavier side of her previous outings.
"I will always play songs from The Gathering and Devin Townsend because I love them," she says. "I also know for a fact that people want to hear those songs, so I'll never leave them out. I also have my absolute favourite songs from The Gentle Storm that I will keep playing. I have such a big outlet to choose from nowadays, it's such a luxurious position to be in. We should look at VUUR as my ultimate heavy outlet. It's not a project, which is why when we make the setlist it will include the new stuff and my favourites from my catalogue.”