Anberlin
Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place


3.5
great

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
September 3rd, 2010 | 39 replies | 6,154 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: They owe this to themselves

Remember Anberlin? They were those guys three years ago that everyone, other than the Tooth & Nail label, wanted to see make it to the big time. When their chance in the spotlight finally came with 2008’s New Surrender, the Winter Haven-based group slipped up a bit on us unfortunately, making an album seemingly born out of pressure via their recent signing with major label Universal Republic, rather than out of the pure and refined inspiration that had birthed their prior artistic achievement, 2007’s Cities.

Two years later and we find ourselves in a situation where we have become skeptical of Anberlin and what they will do in the spotlight. Frontman Stephen Christian’s promise that fifth studio album Dark is the Way, Light is a Place would be darker and essentially better than New Surrender did little to alleviate our hesitations, especially since the promise was coming from the same guy who had just said two years earlier that Anberlin’s lackluster major label debut was to be the band’s best work yet.

In a way, Stephen Christian sort of missed the mark in detailing Dark is the Way’s sound for us, as the album is not all that dark or edgy as a whole. In fact, the first half mostly comprises of ballad-esque tracks, and a lot of what you will find here is not so unlike a combination of Cities and Never Take Friendship Personal’s material. This pattern first begins with generic lead single “Impossible”, a track seemingly tailor-made for Top-40 radio and all forty-year-old women alike, and continues on through the three cuts that follow, all containing a similar feel and sound, though varying in individual quality.

“Take Me (As You Found Me)” is what New Surrender’s “Retrace” should have sounded like; Christian pens a longing love song here that can be easily related to a lover, or even God in a religious context. But fourth cut “Closer” is arguably the best of the ballad-run, though, the band joining together with driving, distorted guitars and Christians’ passionate delivery of “Closer, Closer, Closer” in the choruses that only get better and stronger with repeated listens. Save for the opener “We Owe This To Ourselves”, in which the band almost seems to apologize for New Surrender, the first half of Dark is the Way is Anberlin at their most intimate and longing, not at their most dark and edgy.

This changes a little bit once “Pray Tell” comes half-way into Dark is the Way's length, however, as the desperate relationship that the album has up until this point revolved around suddenly becomes full of tension and negative feelings. An Anberlin that is not so unlike that of their Never Take Friendship Personal-era is then brought to the forefront for the remainder of album, with a more passionate, angry Christian taking the mic, as well as coming in tow with more heavy, driving guitars from guitarists Joseph Milligam and Christian McAlhaney.

“Art of War” is a future single in the making that's destined to follow in the footsteps of the band’s most popular hit, “Feel Good Drag”. The song broods steadily on drum beats and light keyboard tones as Christian comes in with a hurt delivery in the verse, building dramatically up to Dark is the Way’s best chorus hook thus far: “There are songs that I will never write / Because of you walking out of my life.” It’s the same desperation and longing feeling that fueled Cities’ fan-favorite “Dismantle. Repair.”, and along with closer “Depraved”, this is the best that Dark is the Way has to offer. The finale falls short of being as great as “(Fin)”, however, but it does succeed in containing a satisfying duel-chorus hook that hits twice as hard on the next go around.

This is a quality that can be found on much of Dark is the Way, whether that’s in context of the softer first half or the more tense second half: the album, much like most of Anberlin's pre-major label material, is very grow-able in the long run. The problem of ballads train-wrecking into Anberlin’s staple alt-rock numbers on New Surrender is largely alleviated here as well, and while an almost direct line is oddly drawn between the album’s ballad-esque love songs and the dark, angst-y rockers half-way into the album's length, Dark is the Way sounds very natural throughout its playing time, save for a few skip-able numbers. Cities this may not be, but Dark is the Way does sit comfortably next to Never Take Friendship Personal in the level of its quality, as well as presents to us an Anberlin that's sounding confident again, well on their way to becoming the stars in the spotlight that we originally wanted them to be.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
KrissWatts
September 3rd 2010



96 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The ballad type songs on the album really bring it down for me.

Nice review man.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



5784 Comments


Yeah, it's odd that save for Down, they're all concentrated at the front. The album would have been a lot stronger if these were mixed in the tracklisting, thanks.

fr33convict
September 3rd 2010



11687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow ALOT of the contributors are trying to beat my review!

just kidding. your review is really good. pos'd.

theacademy
September 3rd 2010



28232 Comments


review pretty much sums up how i feel abou tthis

Ponton
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



5784 Comments


wow ALOT of the contributors are trying to beat my review!


Nah, i just reviewed it for the fun of it and thanks. I'll go back and read caleb's and your review now.

Waior
September 3rd 2010



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I like this subtler album because I already have NFTP and Cities giving me their classic energy. Good review, Jared.

haha, and yeah, I actually only wrote my review just so that I could get back into the habit of writing something so i
chose something nice and easy

oh and MINT summary by the by

Apollo
September 3rd 2010



10266 Comments


sounds like I need to hear this. I've always like select tracks from this band's discog, mainly the last songs on the albums.

I saw these guys open for Story of the Year like 5 years ago and they sucked. Singer was horrible.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



5784 Comments


Thanks Caleb, and it's really reassuring to see a waior review on the front page. I hope you stick around more!

I agree. Their last songs, ie fin, are usually some of their best. I really hated Misearbile Visu, but other than that they're ace. I saw them about two years ago, and they seemed great to me

BigHans
September 3rd 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This isnt nearly as good as Cities or even New Surrender.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



5784 Comments


i agree it falls short of cities, but as a whole its definitely better than new surrender to me.

BigHans
September 3rd 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

but, but New Surrender had Feel Good Drag, Breaking, the resistance, Burn Out Brighter, and Disappear.

Waior
September 3rd 2010



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Burn Out Brighter is their worst song that isn't on blueprints

BigHans
September 3rd 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nah its a guilty pleasure that isnt so guilty.

ninjuice
September 3rd 2010



6759 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

NS is easily their most choreographed album. Ballads and not-quite-ballads-but-almost are ok, but not when they're almost the whole album. But it seems like since they had bigger label support, a ton of new fans liked what they heard and latched onto it.

Digging: Robin Skouteris - The King of ArtPOP

Ponton
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



5784 Comments


Thanks chambered

the problem that i have with new surrender is that yeah some tracks are good, but listening to whole is really choppy. This regains that smooth album aspect that NTFP and cities had for the most part



bailar12
September 3rd 2010



1766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review observer

you have enrique's support

nos vemos

cinaedus
September 3rd 2010



26298 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i would listen to this but first i got the black keys, isis and rosetta

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

BigHans
September 3rd 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I see you got troll neggd too.

Knott-
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

i rly dont understand why everyone is suddenly implying that new surrender was bad

Ponton
Emeritus
September 3rd 2010



5784 Comments


yeah, that kind of stuff seems to happen a lot around here but oh well

i rly dont understand why everyone is suddenly implying that new surrender was bad


it was to many though :/



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