Anberlin - 'Vital' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 31, 2012    
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Certainly an improvement on the last two albums.

It’s been a disappointing foray into major label territory for Anberlin. Out went the dynamic chorus led hard rock of the ‘Tooth And Nail’ days, in came the more experimental indie style rock of ‘New Surrender’ and the equally frustrating ‘Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place’. The halcyon days of ‘Never Take Friendship Personal’ and follow up ‘Cities’ seemed to be over. Until now.

‘Vital’ has seen the band reunited with their longtime friend and producer Aaron Sprinkle (Neal Avron mixes the album) who produced all their albums during the ‘Tooth And Nail’ era. Clearly Anberlin has missed his input not only in defining the band’s sound but also during the song writing process. Vocalist Stephen Christian seems to accept that the band had to look back to go forward and on ‘Vital’ it seems to have worked….in part. This is the band’s best album since ‘Never Take Friendship Personal’.

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‘Vital’ benefits from Sprinkles spacious production throughout although during some of the more aggressive passages the sound seems a little distorted. Compared to the previous two albums this is like a punch in the face; ‘Self Starter’, ‘Little Tyrants’ and ‘Desires’ being some of the most vitriolic that the band has ever committed to disc. Heavy synthesizer use (courtesy of ex-Acceptance keyboard player Kyle Flynn) - something introduced to great effect on ‘Cities’ by Sprinkle - is evident on the edgy rockers ‘Someone Anyone’ and ‘Modern Age’ and yet there’s a sense that the album should really have included more of these type of songs. Sure, every album needs its moments of melancholy and experimentation but this needs to be subtle so as not to upset the flow of an album. Indeed the moments of subtly are strokes of genius in their own right. The ambient programmed ‘Innocent’ or the haunting pop of ‘Orpheum’ show songwriting flair and a high degree of musicianship and the “Underwater” vibe of ‘Type Three’ is undeniably different but these regular forays disrupt the albums momentum.

In summary ‘Vital’ is perhaps half the album that you wanted it to be and half the album that you didn’t want it to be but it’s certainly an improvement on the last two.

Mike Newdeck

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