Review Summary: As loud as it is whimsical, Vital is irresistibly unique alternative rock, and truly is an album that just gets better with each track.
As a band, Anberlin recalls a time in modern rock music where ambitious musical ideas could be present in an artist’s sound as opposed to being forcefully overstated. The group’s sixth studio album Vital
is a fine testament of their ability to seamlessly incorporate so many different genres and remain reserved about it, not emphasizing on one aspect in particular to define their sound, but equally catering to their music's varying features so that they all may correspond with each other and delivery music that has an strong, accumulated impact.
The ground Vital
manages to cover is impressive to say the least. On this album, Anberlin delves into polished post-hardcore just as deep as they do with heavy alternative metal riffs, with the brisk pacing of the former working surprisingly well the churning crunch of the latter. This is a collection of songs that are thickly layered, and alternate between distinctly differing segments as the tracks progress. This is notable during the acoustic solo break amongst the glistening atmosphere of “Type Three”, and the pounding acceleration of the drum beat in the middle of the rich and soaring melodies of “Orpheum”, and these differencing elements are so impeccably melded together through Vital’s
well-groomed production, that the songs ease beautifully into these segments without obstructing the flow in any way.
While this is a heavier album for Anberlin, Vital
also sees the band experiment more heavily with electronic elements in their sound. While most alternative rock bands are fond of integrating synthesizers driven by a more darker and industrial mood ala Nine Inch Nails into their sound when dabbling into electronic territory, Anberlin have broken from that tired preference among their peers, and have separated themselves from the pack by instead choosing to work with extravagantly bright and colorful synths that one would expect to hear in an Owl City album.
These danceable, pop driven beats prove to be a great backbone production for the songs, and work as interesting introductions to tracks, such as the almost aquatic-natured backing jingles of “Other Side”. Anberlin really has struck a perfect middle-ground between the chugging alt metal heaviness and the innocent synths that act as their foundation. Tracks with more charging guitars right out of the gates such as “Someone Anyone” and “Intentions” tango surprisingly well with happy new wave vibes supporting them, and with very few inconsistencies at that.
What’s truly great about the songs on Vital
is that they feel so free, like a swift breeze that you can’t help but embrace. This is music that is free of the confines and limitations of typical modern rock formulas, it doesn’t abide by any predisposed structures, it just immediately cranks the volume up right at the start and sweeps listeners up to the rafters in a massively visceral and unique atmosphere fit for an arena, that’s speedily guided at a hasty pace with the band’s heart for post-hardcore.
The album starts out both heavy and danceable, and just keeps increasing in a steady sharp momentum to ultimately attain a height of power that never lets up until the album is over. While most alternative rock albums on a straight-listen through can die in energy towards the last few tracks, Vital
only becomes more urgent and grabbing. The last four tracks are booming with harmony and melody that casts listener’s into a vast fairy tale land of youthful bliss that has a staying power that lasts long after the album has finished.
is a crisp journey of an album that has a wide range of appeal to fans of numerous genres, such as alternative rock, post-hardcore, heavy metal, and even synthpop. It’s an effective, and nearly captivating record that offers a different take on elements familiar to many, and fans of any type of rock music will find the album quite fetching, and be glad to be caught up in it.