In This Moment We Are Free - Cities by VuurRelease date: October 20, 2017
Label: InsideOut Music
Anneke Van Giersbergen has one of the great emotive voices in metal, and she is widely loved and adored by those who have heard her many projects and collaborations. After a reunion with heavier progressive metal in The Gentle Storm, she has formed Vuur with an aim to use it as a conduit for her heavy material – with many of her highly talented touring band returning. The result is an hour long trip around the world, with each song based around Anneke’s interpretation of a world city. Unfortunately, and somewhat fittingly for its topic, debut In This Moment We Are Free – Cities struggles to find itself a home.
Anneke’s vocals are the obvious highlight, and with Vuur she has really played with her styling with plenty of moments that move away from typical progressive symphony vocals. Most pronounced is her turn in ‘The Fire – San Francisco’, which moves from ballad to distant opera with great success. Her vocal delivery is warm, expansive and filled with a celebratory melancholia that in turns gives a reflective depth and a really personable comfort. It’s like a really nice hug.
But where Anneke’s vocals are confident, emotional and nuanced, the songs themselves don’t quite make it to those heights. Throughout Vuur you can hear moments of Devin Townsend and Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon, but there is a feeling of a lack of confidence that means Vuur often take the safer well trod path that ultimately means the songs never hit their stride. They are never heavy or progressive enough to stand out or melodic and catchy enough to work as arena filling power ballads. The songs of Vuur’s debut show a great amount of promise and are certainly very competent, but they lack the personality and gusto to really bring anything that stands out as a project deserving of its pedigree. It’s very frustrating when moments that sound truly great are often traded for more tried and tested progressive clichés.
In the end the first project form Vuur is competent but frustrating. There is plenty to love about In This Moment We Are Free – Cities, and there are some great moments – especially in the middle section with ‘Sail Away – Santiago’ and ‘Days Go By – London’ being the closest to what Vuur could be with time. For now though, Vuur is a competent vessel for Anneke Van Giersbergen to shine but ultimately its globetrotting adventure leads it to a tour of progressive metal that never finds itself its own city to call home.