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Anneke van Giersbergen’s departure from THE GATHERING was certainly a surprising announcement. But with a rapid turnaround not remotely metallic, it appeared to be a necessary move for van Giersbergen to foster creative explorations. On the surface however, AGUA DE ANNIQUE treads the same waters of latter-day THE GATHERING. Though that’s every bit satisfying, it leaves a bit to be desired without much true differentiation. Regardless, Air is a relaxed album of enjoyable post-metal, gothic-tinged, indie rock, driven by Anneke’s familiar voice. “Day After Yesterday,” “My Girl,” and “Sunken Soldiers Ball” are soft yet pleasant songs in a happier key not far from COLDPLAY-level adult contemporary, whatever-rock. On the more haunting end are tracks like “Ice Water” and “Trail of Grief,” which are dressed with darker melodies and parallel works of ANATHEMA and/or IN THE WOODS… The album’s best track is clearly “Yalin,” a song who’s vocal melodies change up beautifully between verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. Despite the too familiar sounds (songwriting, vocals, instrumentation), AGUA DE ANNIQUE’s debut album is thoroughly positive and enjoyable. Let’s just hope that the band continues to grow and develop away from the familiar territory of its singer’s former band. (The End Records)