Anberlin
Devotion


4.5
superb

Review

by nakedmolerat USER (10 Reviews)
December 14th, 2013 | 23 replies | 4,809 views


Release Date: 10/15/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A 71-minute-long sprint.

Anberlin have never before gone straight for the jugular like they have now.

After leaving behind their pop-punk goodness, the band embarked on a rediscovery of themselves in atmospheric music. And while no deconstruction or unorthodox instrumentation came into the picture, the band began to point their sound to greater prospects: condemnation, salvation, altruism, righteousness, benevolence. Cities, New Surrender and Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, diverse records when compared, all had one thing in common - they contained music that played out like a novel, that engaged the audience and encouraged them to make it their own, that simply would not be confined to the tracks themselves.

This is not so with Devotion. It's first incarnation, Vital, is a violent, mechanical record. It does not burst at the seams with innovation and life, it's nuclear fission - calculated, immaculately crafted and unimaginably powerful. Opener Self-Starter and the mid-album Desire are both testaments of great discipline, with alt-metal riffs simply tearing through the airwaves like bloodhounds released from a tight leash, all somehow contained in one compact track. Synths sound out like voices in an abandoned cathedral in Other Side, boring their way through to create space for Christian's vocals that howl over a hurricane of riffs and bass, or surge like a torrent of rushing water in Someone Anyone, carrying with it a collateral of vocals that chime through the distortion. Even the melodramatic Modern Age and closer-cum-palette-cleanser God, Drugs and Sex, deliver far more than their stereotypes would promise. Although this renders the album's weaker tracks, such as the sterile and underwhelming Innocent, simply forgettable, it is plain that there is simply no time for contextualization or elaboration. Much of Vital exists for the moment and nothing more, but burns brightly while it does.

In areas where Vital alone seemed insufficient, however, Devotion delivers the whole picture. Vital seemed like an abrupt swerve into uncharted territory for the band, but the second tier that was brought in links new and old by heralding a melancholy that is only all too familiar. It is these tracks that trickle bare emotion into the mix - IJSW plays this role perfectly with its frighteningly vulnerable chorus:

How is this for true Devotion: Give, I'll give you all,
I'll give you all
How is this for true Romance: I feel I pulled you down,
I pulled you down
How is this for Honestly: I need to hear,
I need to hear it now
Who do you need me to be? I'll be someone,
I'll be someone for you


The influence of Cities' producer Mr. Aaron Sprinkle is now also finally evident. Although not advisable, when Devotion's 7 new tracks are heard separately, every track aside from exuberant crowd-pleaser City Electric sounds noticeably like a darker, more guttural version of Never Take Friendship Personal/Cities - for attentive fans, the last of the 7, Safe Here, is a curt nod to the era both lyrically and stylistically. When taken as a whole, as well it should, Devotion is two sides of the same coin, and the fusion of electronics with raw instrumentation is consistently ingenuous. Intentions has driven guitars inexplicably fitting synths like a glove, while Said Too Much occupies a cold cavernous area where intentionally soulless unforgiving instrumentation works alongside a melodious pop-punk melody given new life in a primal tongue. A potency now exists in their sound that was almost inconceivable before.*

Due credit must be given to Stephen Christian, their singular frontman. As a vocalist, the man is transparent and practically without pretense, and the tone he possesses - contemplative and fragile when subdued, wonderfully pure in the higher register but capable of great force when called upon - is unique perhaps only to him. In Devotion his vocals take on whole new forms - laced with effects, magnified into a choral resonance or stripped barer than ever before. His is an earnest and unflattering sort of genius, and perhaps the sole reason why every sound Anberlin's ever attempted has been original.

Devotion is touch and go for a 71-minute-long sprint. That is not to say, however that it's tracks are without their points - a great deal of them dabble in concepts of broken love, loss, depravity, and idealism. But these, by virtue of their presentation, are by no means dialogues; they deal with raw thought and emotion itself (the “vitals” of human essence, if you will) - and nothing more. It's almost as if the band has found a way to communicate sentiment directly, and only by really letting their finished products simply exist as they do here does the band manage their incredible pace without burning out. Devotion is a journey through a new dimension, and the Anberlin that has embarked on it have wholly opened themselves up to dark reinvention while keeping the hallmarks of their past glory – the result of which is terrifyingly brilliant.



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user ratings (83)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
Green Baron (4)
More than just the Vital expansion pack....

Alex Carlson (4)
Even though it never earns its own identity, Devotion is the best way to experience the band's now-r...


Comments:Add a Comment 
hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2013


1616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really nice review, loved vital. What new songs should you recommend?

wil311
December 14th 2013


66 Comments


hate this band

silentstar
December 14th 2013


2253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@hogan900, there are only three new tracks on the release, while the rest are acoustic and remixes. Out of the three new tracks, I would recommend IJSW because it is by far one of Anberlin's most unique tracks. From the acoustic section, I'd Like To Die is really great as well: it's a bit of an undersold song as far as Anberlin goes since it kind of passed under the radar.

IJSW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pgg0tvF22EI

I'd Like To Die: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VOty4Y_xg0

loneNLwolf
December 14th 2013


140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A perfectly-written review that I completely agree with. This is a magnificent album.

Green Baron
December 14th 2013


20000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Vital was great, and this just made it better

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

hogan900
Contributing Reviewer
December 14th 2013


1616 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sounds good, I'll check this out later tonight.

nakedmolerat
December 14th 2013


21 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys. I loved Said Too Much and IJSW, they just feel really organic and beautiful

loneNLwolf
December 14th 2013


140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Little Tyrants" and "Desires" are two of the best and heaviest tracks Anberlin has ever released.

Green Baron
December 14th 2013


20000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Self-Starter...

Ecnalzen
December 15th 2013


6531 Comments


I got the deluxe version of this with the CD/remix/live Dvd combo. Totes worth it.

nakedmolerat
December 15th 2013


21 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea Self-Starter is mad good first time I heard it I was just floored

KILL
December 15th 2013


71750 Comments


check the who dudes

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

PostMesmeric
December 15th 2013


366 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Vital is easily my favorite album by these guys and Devotion, while it has a few lows, represents Vital's strengths well. "Said Too Much" is awesome; "Self-Starter", "Little Tyrants" and "Modern Age" are still amazing.

Great review too. Pos.

Arnaud
December 15th 2013


183 Comments


Safe Here should have been on Vital, such a perfectly fitting song for the record

great review

GiantSpeck
December 18th 2013


205 Comments


I feel like the first sentence of your review would have made a better summary.

Storm In A Teacup
December 20th 2013


12780 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I like the opening sentence where it is. The best release of all time and I still haven't watched the dvd or all of the third disc.

Nomos
January 2nd 2014


839 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Honestly I couldn't stand Vital very much when I first heard it, but I'm liking this. I find that since Blueprints and NTFP were so catchy and immediate, each release since has been disappointing for me personally. And then they always redeem themselves as growers when I listen months later when there's nothing to listen to. I could not stand Dark is the Way.. when I first heard it, but I'm rediscovering it now and love it. I don't think I'll ever love New Surrender though.

But I impulse bought this compilation album, and I've never bought a compliation album before, and love it. It showcases all of their strengths, and the 'new' songs for this LP are actually the best. Safe Here and IJSW and Said Too Much are fantastic.

Green Baron
January 2nd 2014


20000 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Devotion > Vital

obviously

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
May 16th 2014


13134 Comments


check the who dudes [2]

is this really better than vital? answer with this in mind: cities is 2-2.5 and dark is the light is a hard 4 for me

Digging: Electric Wurms - Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk

silentstar
May 16th 2014


2253 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think that idea that this is better comes from the fact that Devotion = Vital + 6 new tracks (ranging from pree good to really good). here's one track that sounds like it's from dark is the way:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YegaICCjV7M

vital/devotion is less alt.rock when compared to cities, and has a lot more atmosphere/ambiance/electronics, making it a bit more comparable to dark is the way, in that sense



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