Today I have the pleasure of reviewing Anberlin’s sixth album, Vital, which is to be released October 16th 2012. Anberlin’s sixth studio album was recorded and produced earlier this year. The album’s production was performed by Aaron Sprinkle, who produced the band’s first three albums. Promoted by the band as their “most aggressive” album yet, the album lives up to and goes well beyond expectations.
Composed by drummer Nathan Young, Self-Starter starts the album off with an intense beginning which blows We Owe This To Ourselves out of the water, and easily rivals both the fast-paced and hard-hitting action of Godspeed and The Resistance. While the pre-chorus originally sounded as if Stephen Christian’s voice had been auto tuned to several fans, careful listening (and also a Billboard.com interview) revealed it to be a female singer, and not just any person, but Julia Marie, the wife of Stephen Christian. Overall this song was a great choice by the band to both start the album off with, and to be used to preview the album to their fans as it embodies much of what the album holds in store for the listener.
Little Tyrants follows up and begins right away with fierce guitars and powerful lyrics. The vocals have a raw and fierce feel about them, bringing to mind Never Take Friendship Personal’s title track. The lyrics, based on the 2011 Egyptian revolution, do not fail to meet expectations. Stephen sings the chorus growingly with a sense of passion and fury. Not only does Stephen shine in this song, but also Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhanely with their amazing guitar work. The bridge is simply outstanding. The solo featured here is stunning and is surely one of their best guitar solos yet. Overall this track is well organized, nothing seems to lack here, and it certainly supports the band’s description of this album as their most aggressive album to date.
Other Side definitely sounds surprising upon first listen. With it’s synth-driven melodies and its slow tempo it sounds almost like an 80s rock ballad. This track is nothing like what we’ve heard from Anberlin before. In fact, it seems much more like an Anchor & Braille and Anberlin lovechild than anything strictly Anberlin. This song is absolutely breathtaking, small details such as gusts of wind and tambourines can be heard in the background of the song giving the song a calming and open feel. The lyrics bring to mind Anchor & Braille’s Before I Start Dreaming and Anberlin’s I’d Like To Die. As soon as the chorus kicks in though, this song certainly is aggressive. As the chorus begins and everything kicks into full gear a youthful passion is injected into the song. Sure it’s not another fierce album opener, but the song holds it own. The overall heavy feel of the chorus contrasts beautifully with the lighter feel of the verses. In Other Side, Stephen allows for his vocals to clearly show his emotion and feelings of when he was writing the song to shine through as he sings in the chorus, “Hold me, hold me, and trust me, trust me. Love me, love me, why don’t you know me, just know me?” Despite the radical shift in style and feel from the rest of the album, this song is uniquely Anberlin. As the song comes to an end with a drawn out closing from Nate Young and electronic whirring in the background, Other Side leaves the listener in anxious anticipation for the rest of the album.
Someone Anyone is the band’s first radio single. When word first began going around that the song was on the radio, a well-dedicated group of anberlin fans pestered a Tampa radio station all throughout the day waiting for the song to come on. Finally at midnight the song was played much to their delight. One of those fans was myself and the song was much worth the wait. Someone Anyone is a fierce song, yet poppy, overall a great choice for a radio single. Another song inspired the the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, Stephen asks for “Someone, someone [to] tell me what I’m fighting for?” and goes on to say “Anyone, anyone, anyone can start a war!” warning though, that “No one can walk away, no one can walk away truly alive.” The song is carried well with melodic synths, crunchy guitars, and strong drum beats. Drummer Nate Young does not hold back at all in this album whatsoever. His drumming on this record is certainly some of his best work. Truth be told, this song makes you want to get up and rock. It is simply full of energy and excitement. This track is certain to be a hit with fans, especially in concert.