Anberlin
New Surrender


4.5
superb

Review

by Channing Freeman USER (4 Reviews)
September 24th, 2008 | 456 replies | 41,444 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Too late to make demands, when you've got a riot on your hands.

17 of 17 thought this review was well written

Anberlin are one of the most surprising bands in music today. In theory, they seem fairly generic; they combine a heavier rock sound with the catchy hooks of pop-punk. But in practice, there's an x-factor in their music that elevates them above all of the other bands in mainstream rock. This x-factor isn't too easily identifiable; for my money the best answer would be the fact that they utilize devices that are seemingly inherently kitschy, but they somehow manage to present them in a way that is anything but cheesy or contrived. Sing-a-long style "la la's," hand claps, group vocals, and a children's choir have all been employed by Anberlin over the past few years, and they haven't made a misstep yet. Led by the ridiculously strong vocals of Stephen Christian, Anberlin will release New Surrender a week or so from now, and they deserve every bit of the praise that this album will hopefully garner.

If there was one problem with Cities, it was that there were one or two songs that didn't live up to the rest of the album. It was an understandable flaw - clearly Anberlin were still trying to gain their footing as a band that had recently gone from a fairly standard pop-punk sound to a more fleshed out sound that actually set them apart from other bands. On a few songs, it was apparent that they were still trying to capture some of the youthfulness of Never Take Friendship Personal while disregarding the fact that they had matured beyond that level. With New Surrender, they've rectified that problem with their strongest songwriting yet, and on a few tracks they even manage to bridge the gap between old Anberlin and new Anberlin effectively, something they couldn't quite manage to do on Cities. In short, New Surrender is the best Anberlin album yet - an album that shows an energetic, passionate band firing on all cylinders.

The most apparent comparison that can be made to the progression Anberlin have made is through the re-recording of Never Take Friendship Personal's "Feel Good Drag." Most saw the decision to re-record the song as a questionable move, but it turns out to be just the opposite. The song is now heavier (even without the screamed bridge; a great sign of their progression in songwriting) and more streamlined, doing away with some of the pointless nuances that made the track feel bogged down on Never Take Friendship Personal. It also couldn't have better placement in the tracklist; it fits perfectly with the new songs on the album. In short, that's New Surrender. It's Anberlin taking their previous sound and refining it, taking away unnecessary aspects and adding in the flair for straightforward yet impressively cohesive songwriting that they began to display on Cities.

Anberlin continue their trend of hard-hitting openers and epic closing tracks with this album. "The Resistance" somehow sounds even better than "Godspeed," one of the strongest tracks on Cities. The most predominant member of Anberlin has always been vocalist and lyricist Stephen Christian, who is easily one of the most talented vocalists in rock music. He commands a formidable range of lows and falsettos, and he sounds amazing on every song here, but on "The Resistance" in particular because he displays something that was rarely heard on earlier albums - aggression. He's always been an energetic singer, but here he sounds angry, as if he could spearhead a revolution, and that's something that's rarely, if ever, heard in rock music today. If it weren't for "(*Fin)", "The Resistance" would be his strongest vocal performance yet. "Misearbile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)" is a bit different from typical Anberlin closing tracks. First, it's a bit shorter than both "(*Fin)" and "Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen," and it shows a remarkable amount of restraint by everyone in the band. Beginning with minimal drums and atmospheric guitar playing that back Christian's impressively morbid lyrics ("Your days are numbered when there's blood on the moon"), the track progresses from a subdued quiet into an absolutely huge arena rock chorus, and the song's conclusion will leave you breathless. While it may not be as amazing as "(*Fin)," it's a fitting conclusion to the record, and nothing the band does will likely ever match "(*Fin)" anyway.

Those two songs aren't the only standouts though. Additionally, "Younglife" is everything that a few tracks on Cities wished they could be, displaying both the innocent nature of Anberlin's first records and the matured songwriting of Cities. Guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney shine here with gorgeous acoustic playing and sliding electric riffs in the chorus that weave around Stephen's vocals, and the transition into the sing-a-long section at the end of the track was an ingenious touch. The conclusion of "Retrace" brings a string section into the picture, elevating an already great track into one of the album's most triumphant moments. "Breathe" is a poignant acoustic track to match Cities' "Inevitable," and "Soft Skeletons" manages to be epic despite its four minute length.

New Surrender is basically everything that Anberlin fans could have hoped for. It's a natural progression from Cities, with a notable advance in songwriting and instrumental techniques. Stephen Christian's vocals are stronger than ever, and if there was ever any question as to whether he was a formidable frontman or not, he puts those doubts to rest here. New Surrender contains twelve of the strongest Anberlin songs yet; there isn't a weak track to be heard. The best part is that it's apparent that they aren't even close to burning out yet, and if they keep this up, their next album could be a masterpiece of modern rock music.


user ratings (915)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Green Baron (4)
    Retrace the steps we took on that lost summer night......

    toxin (4)
    A remarkably consistent offering from a band transitioning into the mainstream....

    peartnoy (3.5)
    New Surrender is disappointing, but there are enough moments of greatness here to make it ...

    Ryan Cleary (4.5)
    Anberlin is back, and their much anticipated 2008 release, New Surrender, does much to ple...

  • Brent Stephenson (4)
    Though it might not be a contender for album of the year, it is definitely a solid and hig...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
September 24th 2008



6001 Comments


great review, really does this album justice

almost every song on this beats any song on cities except fin


SnackaryBinx
September 24th 2008



2309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=review]and they haven't made a misstep yet.[/quote]

annnnnnnnnnd they're jinxed.This Message Edited On 09.24.08

kitsch
September 24th 2008



5107 Comments


hmm the local scene chicks rave about these guys.. havent checked them out tho.

good use of the word kitsch

sadmafioso
September 24th 2008



318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i thought of you as i wrote it

kitsch
September 24th 2008



5107 Comments


aww how cute... channing

rasputin
September 24th 2008



14540 Comments


u mst be new, u cant post moar then 1 reveiws a day coz its 2 many

kitsch
September 24th 2008



5107 Comments


hes mynameischan.

hes been here 4ev.

he does what he wants.

rasputin
September 24th 2008



14540 Comments


ohok, cuz im new as well i dno who nebody is hear

sadmafioso
September 24th 2008



318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fellas

rasputin
September 24th 2008



14540 Comments


chn

Kiran
Emeritus
September 24th 2008



6001 Comments


can we resume talking about how good this album is please

rasputin
September 24th 2008



14540 Comments


mebbe

kitsch
September 24th 2008



5107 Comments


i havent heard it, so probably not

DaveBum69
September 24th 2008



699 Comments


Ive heard dissapear and I can't stop listening to it I want this

sadmafioso
September 24th 2008



318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

disappear has the most awesome chorus ever, i should have commented on that in the review

Essence
September 24th 2008



3583 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol Rasp you just made my day.

ToWhatEnd
September 24th 2008



3172 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album is amazing. I swear people review new releases faster and faster. Don't really think there's a point in me reviewing this now. Great review.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
September 24th 2008



3766 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mmm, so this is definitely better than Cities, but I sort of agree and disagree with you about the x-factor. It's like Anberlin have got this glass ceiling, like they're very very good at what they do and that x-factor you talk about comes from the fact they they really haven't taken any missteps. But then, theres no new sound here, just a really really good one. No complainants though. Great review. Ack, soso many good albums out in the last two weeks, 2008 is awesome.This Message Edited On 09.24.08

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

OllieS
September 24th 2008



2030 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Totally disagree about the new 'Feel Good Drag', I dunno, it just sounds worse than the original, which is one of my favourite songs ever. Good review.This Message Edited On 09.24.08

PatchworkNeurology
September 24th 2008



352 Comments


Super review, I believe you nailed it.
This album is a great rock album, we need more of these
that don't sound half-assed or forced.

Go christian dudes who left tooth and nail for a major!



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