Superficially, there’s little to compare Anneke Van Giersbergen’s current musical bent with the dark, experimental bluster of her earlier work as part of The Gathering. In the six years since she left that band she’s gradually developed a straighter, radio-friendly sound, and she continues in that vein on Drive.
As is their wont, prog snobs might perceive this as indefensible sell out, but for all the commerciality, this is still an intelligent and well-constructed album. Yes, all 10 songs are reduced to a compact three or four minutes, but when they’re as infuriatingly catchy as You Will Never Change, raw talent overrides the dubious misgivings of those seeking countless shifts in time signature.
Her wonderfully soulful, distinctive and versatile voice is a natural focal point, and there’s enough here to suggest that mainstream musical acceptance isn’t far away. We Live On and Shooting For The Stars provide a boisterous fanfare and could easily become pan-European hit singles, while Forgive Me will appeal to lovers of Within Temptation.
Another ballad in the vein of the wistful My Mother Said would have given the album a finer balance, but this could still be a career- changing album for her.