Anneke van Giersbergen does not really need an introduction, does she? If you haven’t heard of her, I almost feel like calling you out for it, however, you have the chance to improve your life by discovering the former THE GATHERING singer’s upcoming acoustic solo record, “The Darkest Skies Are the Brightest,” released via InsideOut Music on February 26th, 2021. This album marks her 23rd release and was born out of a couple of intense years for van Giersbergen, when her relationship threatened to fall apart. In “The Darkest Skies are the Brightest,” van Giersbergen opens up about her life and her fight against a darker chapter of her life.
“The Darkest Skies are the Brightest” is a perfect illustration of how less is more. Take for instance opener “Agape,” a simple track where van Giersbergen is mostly accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Here and there, some string arrangements and soft percussion provide accents to the music, but it remains relatively simple on the whole. The thing that is carrying the music is Anneke van Giersbergen. Her voice radiates power and emotion. “Hurricane” has an almost magical chorus that gains momentum due to its vocal harmonies. “The Promise” was the first track of the album to be released as a single and is truly one of the highlights of this album, as it evokes an incredible amount of emotion; van Giersbergen‘s vocal performance in this track is outstanding, in this track her vocals are embellished with a lot of frills, yet it feels so nuanced that it never becomes too overwhelming.
“I Saw a Car” turns things around as, due to its unique energy, the darker flow of the record is interrupted, but a lighter accent like this track is just what the listener needs to escape from the overall darker and more intense mood of the first half. “The Soul Knows” balances on the border between soft rock and pop music and definitely hits a sweet spot as Anneke van Giersbergen uses her higher register a bit more often. Now, if you somehow managed to keep it dry throughout these tracks, “The End” might be the song that will make you grab for those tissues. It’s a soft, tender song about heartbreak that is incredibly emotional, but luckily “Keep it Simple” breaks the pattern a little bit. While still melancholic at its core, the track has a certain grooviness in the vocals that is a nice change within these tracks, offering a little bit of diversity. Ironically, out of the whole album, this seems to be the most progressive regarding instrumentation, even though its title may have you believe the opposite.
“Lo And Behold” is a powerful song that talks about commitment and flows nicely into the emotional “Losing You,” one of the most heartwarming tracks on this album, whose lyrics focus on the realization of losing someone, but yet the song sounds hopeful and as it gains more power, you can tell van Giersbergen really fought for something in her personal life. Perhaps, this is one of the most intimate, personal songs on this album, but surely it’s one of the highlights on “The Darkest Skies are the Brightest.”
It feels like the darkest of times are over, as the next track “Survive” sounds more confident and powerful. “Survive” is also on the heavier side of the spectrum of offerings. The album ends on a positive note with “Love You Like I Love You,” a beautiful love song that feels somewhat very motivational and uplifting, while also being reminiscent of those moments when loving someone is truly something beautiful when you open yourself up.
“The Darkest Skies are the Brightest” is an album that is incredibly diverse. Like its title implies, the record consists out of dark and melancholic songs that might make you wipe away that tear rolling down your face, yet there are also those tracks that show the light at the end of the tunnel, sounding hopeful, powerful, and extremely motivational. This album feels cathartic, not only for van Giersbergen but also for the listener. Anneke van Giersbergen‘s voice carries a beautiful sort of empathy that makes you feel almost like you were present during the darkest of her times. While tracks like “Agape,” “The Promise,” and “Losing You” gravitate towards emotions connected with heartbreak, songs like “I Saw a Car,” “Keep It Simple,” and “Survive” are fun intermezzos that are necessary to keep the listener immersed; on the other end of the spectrum, songs like “Love You Like I Love You” are power statement pieces. Altogether, “The Darkest Skies are the Brightest” is an album that is composed and sung from the heart and will heal many who are going through similar times in life.
- My Promise
- I Saw A Car
- The Soul Knows
- The End
- Keep It Simple
- Lo And Behold
- Losing You
- Love You Like I Love You
Anneke Van Giersbergen