Anberlin is an American rock band formed in Winter Haven, Florida in 2002. Since the beginning of 2007, the band has consisted of lead vocalist Stephen Christian, guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney, bassist Deon Rexroat, and drummer Nathan Young.
Vital is the sixth studio album by Anberlin to be released on October 16, 2012 via Universal Republic.
Anberlin - Vital Reviewed by Jack Appleby
The Anberlin faithful have ached for Vital since early in the year (or 2007, depending on who you ask). Promises for their most aggressive record only heightened expectations of producer Aaron Sprinkle’s return, leaving fans chomping at the bit for the sixth full-length. Though some cheered for a return to older energy, the aptly-titled Vital is a new album, with a new sound, with the best songs of Anberlin’s career.
No disrespect to the band’s back catalog, but Vital blows everything out of the water. Cities has long been the gold standard fans refuse to forget - while that album is undeniable, it shows a band maximizing their young selves; Vital is the result of veteran musicians turning the corner, understanding what works and crafting their masterpiece. This may be a more linear progression from Cities than their previous two records, but both New Surrender and Dark Is The Way were necessary in bringing Anberlin to their current ability - a fair trade, whether you cared for those years or not.
The heavy is here and hitting hard, largely due to the band’s electronic additions. Well-crafted programming and synth lines couple with great guitarwork to supply a booming depth to “Self-Starter” and the 80’s-influenced “Intentions,” displaying the utter chaos Stephen Christian wished for. Lead single “Someone Anyone” adds a dose of accessibility to the equation for Top 40 potential, while the fun “Little Tyrants” grabs a little Never Take Friendship Personal for the album’s most nostalgic track. Aaron Sprinkle’s unmatched production should have left its mark by now, expertly putting the pieces together in a pristine, yet full mix. The emphasis on musicianship should be noted as well - while Dark Is The Way spotlit Stephen, Sprinkle brought the vocals back in and pushed a full band sound much closer to what you’d expect from Anberlin.
By the end of ballad “Innocent,” the greatness is palpable, though the best is yet to come. A crunchy hammer-on riff opens “Desires,” simultaneously serving as an album standout, the band’s heaviest track, and the best chorus on the record. Despite all the brilliance before it, “Modern Age” is the best offering - no song shows every success and lesson from the band’s career quite like it. That’s without even touching the gorgeous “Orpheum” or epic closer “God, Drugs, and Sex,” both of which will likely earn slots in listeners’ favorites.
Calling Vital a career-defining record isn’t a stretch in the least. The album lives up to its title in every way and should prove essential for old and new fans alike. Despite tough competition from many stellar 2012 releases, the record should catch more than a few end of year lists, and could take the top spot for many. Vital is the best record in Anberlin’s 10 year career, bar none.
Reviewed by Jack Appleby for absolutepunk.net
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