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Jack Appleby 10/10/12 06:08 AM

Anberlin - Vital
 
AnberlinVital
Record Label: Universal Republic
Release Date: October 16, 2012


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.

Additional InformationStream the album in its entirety here.

jdplasma11 10/10/12 06:15 AM

Awesome review Jack, and one that has me even more hyped for the album. Just one question: why a 7.5 for the lyrics (Not that that's a bad score or anything by any means)? Could you elaborate on that a bit? It just sticks out a bit since all of the other scores on the sidebar are between 9 and 10. (I'm not questioning your review or anything like that, just genuinely interested).

Edit: since I posted this the score's been bumped up to an 8.5, so I'm guessing the original 7.5 was a typo. There goes my question! Sick review again, been waiting for this for a long time. Next Tuesday still feels ages away.

Jack Appleby 10/10/12 06:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdplasma11 (Post 114039772)
Awesome review Jack, and one that has me even more hyped for the album. Just one question: why a 7.5 for the lyrics (Not that that's a bad score or anything by any means)? Could you elaborate on that a bit? It just sticks out a bit since all of the other scores on the sidebar are between 9 and 10. (I'm not questioning your review or anything like that, just genuinely interested).

Actually meant for it to be an 8.5! But to answer your question, some of the songs are a tad more simple - not a bad thing by any means, but not deserving of a 9 or 10. If there was a melodies category, I'd give it a 14 - they're pretty much perfect across the entire record.

Jeff_Ryan 10/10/12 06:28 AM

Need this now

COLEMAN902 10/10/12 06:35 AM

Hell yes. Been waiting for this for SO long.

jdplasma11 10/10/12 06:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack Appleby (Post 114039942)
Actually meant for it to be an 8.5! But to answer your question, some of the songs are a tad more simple - not a bad thing by any means, but not deserving of a 9 or 10. If there was a melodies category, I'd give it a 14 - they're pretty much perfect across the entire record.

Ah, ok, cool. They've always been a chorus heavy band so I think I understand. Thanks for the reply.

Chuck! 10/10/12 06:45 AM

My first reaction was that 95% seems absurd, but I guess I'll have to see for myself. My optimism is very cautious given their recent output

Jack Appleby 10/10/12 06:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chuck! (Post 114040452)
My first reaction was that 95% seems absurd, but I guess I'll have to see for myself. My optimism is very cautious given their recent output

It's truly that good. Assuming you're a fan of Cities (you know, because we all are), I can safely say this album is superior - hopefully that lets you know how serious I am about the score.

MXP 10/10/12 06:53 AM

Great review. Makes me amped and pumped for some new Anberlin!!! :D

jordalsh 10/10/12 06:53 AM

I really can't wait. "Self-Starter" is probably my favorite song by them like, ever.

cowlord 10/10/12 06:54 AM

Holy shit. I might have to actually buy this album.

jasonisasleep 10/10/12 06:54 AM

wow, so excited for this

Kaku 10/10/12 06:58 AM

I hate you!!

Of course I had high expectations of it, after listening to Self-Starter and Someone Anyone. Now thanks to you and this review, I can't fricking wait to listen to it.
In the end 95% might be a tad bit too much, but it could very well deserve it. I think there has never been an album, which I was as excited about as it is with Vital.

Edit: Another plus, the "weakest" part of this album might be lyrics, still with a 8.5 as a pretty high score, isn't what I look forward at most in music in general. :)

guitaristbrb 10/10/12 06:59 AM

I've never listened to them but always wanted to. What album should I listen to to get me set up for this release?

VeryWittyName 10/10/12 07:06 AM

I'm so, so excited.