Review Summary: “Dark is the Way, Light is a Place” is the sound of Anberlin gaining momentum, with no intentions of slowing down.
I have to admit that I approached Dark is the Way, Light is a Place with a considerable amount of doubt. There are few times in which I can recall a band proclaiming their upcoming work to be their “darkest and heaviest yet” or making some similarly brash prediction without seeing it crash and burn within the wreckage ignited by their own arrogance. Naturally, when Stephen Christian announced that their fifth LP would be “darker and edgier” than prior releases, painting a picture of a magnum opus, I stood unwavering within my stubbornness and reasonable speculation that this would be an unsuccessful attempt at Cities meets New Surrender. Thankfully, Anberlin had the motivation and skill to prove me – along with a slew of other doubters – completely wrong.
On Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, Anberlin flawlessly combines their staple sound with experimental elements ranging from traces of U2 (“Impossible”) to a Jimmy Eat World vibe across several of the album’s later tracks (notably “To The Wolves” and “Depraved”). Perhaps the most impressive feat accomplished here is the band’s ability to mix together all of these musical ideas and turn out something that is both fresh and possessing a sound that is wholly Anberlin. The band’s best and most endearing traits remain intact – Christian’s vocals are as strong as ever, alternating between atmospheric howls and moderately aggressive growling. The guitar work is quite solid throughout, creating peaks of emotional grandeur and breathtaking valleys that will help the listener get caught up in every second of the journey. They still have those “diamond in the rough” tracks that qualify as “good finds”, but the irony is that there is really no “rough” on the album. Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is a consecutive string of gems, with no disconcerting interruptions to make you question the band’s intentions or the thematic direction of the record. As a result, we have Anberlin’s most consistent album to date.
As I alluded to before, Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is one of those albums that qualifies as an experience. The flow from track to track is both smooth and sweet, with virtually no uncomfortable gaps or moments of filler, making the album feel like an intimate travel through the soundwaves created by each carefully crafted bridge and chorus. From the nearly perfect one-two punch of opening tracks “We Owe This To Ourselves” and “Impossible”, to the thunderous drum beats and compelling lyrics of “Pray Tell”, the album offers quite the intriguing listen. Closers “Depraved” and “All We Have” highlight the album’s final moments, with a heavily emotional aura and epic production. Anberlin accomplishes an unmatched flow in a variety of ways, but the most obvious explanation is that, during the recording of the album, they were simply in the zone. If there was any doubt about the band’s direction after the polarizing, streamlined New Surrender, those concerns have be put to rest. They are clearly on top of their game, and have produced three straight critically acclaimed albums to prove it.
Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is the sound of Anberlin gaining momentum, with no intentions of slowing down. It may not obliterate memories of Cities, but it is just what Anberlin needed to show fans that they can mature gracefully while simultaneously bringing new ideas to the table. Best of all, the new ideas they concocted have clearly elevated them to a whole new level of success – one that will pack arenas while also staying true to the most loyal of fans.
Oh yes, another Anberlin review. But this is among my favorite 5 bands and one of my most anticipated albums of the year, so I just couldn't help myself. I didn't read much of the other reviews, so I apologize if I repeated anything the other reviewers already stated.
Believe it or not this was my attempt at shortening up my reviews...I really aimed for brevity and conciseness, so let me know honestly what you think.
ties: thanks for the pos, it still isn't as brief as i wanted it, but i'll get there...also i would put this just above new surrender, but well below cities
luke: thats awesome, it is always great to see people starting to write reviews. i would steer away from track by track though, it is frowned upon on sputnik...just put your thoughts into paragraph form, maybe try to make some general observations about the album; what they did well, what they didn't do so well, etc.
I don't know. Usually I have a pretty big soft spot for Anberlin, but something about this album is very much awkward to me. They had always been a fairly accessible good band to me, and this feels like easily their least accessible work to date, which bothers me for some reason. I dunno, I'll give it a few more listens, to be honest I couldn't stand Beggars for almost a year after initially hearing it despite being a Thrice fanboy.
and i see where you are coming from with this album, it isn't as hard-edge as Never Take Friendship Personal, not as good as Cities, and not as catchy/accessible as New Surrender. to me, it is just the perfect blend of the three, with a little U2 influence to give it this indescribably good atmosphere...
I'm actually rediscovering how ridiculously good Cities is these days, because when I was first going nuts over it (right after it leaked lol) I wasn't much of a Sputnik user. And to be honest, Cities really blows this out of the water to me.
*Fin sort of destroys this entire album to me right now. But like I said, I'll come back to it and listen again. Strange, I didn't like new Ivoryline that much either. I'm losing my poppy side.
I got into Anberlin when Cities came out that year. My music taste then was on christian rock and bands like Underoath so i decided to check out Anberlin. A good decision on my part. I still listen to Cities every now and then.