Anberlin
Vital


4.0
excellent

Review

by H. USER (119 Reviews)
May 27th, 2014 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Almost at the finish line.

Chapter VI: Hold On Till the End

With the release of 2010’s Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, Anberlin had proved that they were not as infallible as we thought they were, and that disappointment was an all too possible option. Its lack of energy and emotion, coupled with its relatively short running time was a recipe for mediocrity, with only a few highlights to boast. Perhaps this was the beginning of Anberlin’s downfall, ushering in a new era that was defined by lazy songwriting, banal hooks and juvenile lyrics. Every band goes through their rough patch – maybe this was the end of their line.

It’d be pretty fucking outrageous if it actually was.

With Vital, Anberlin not only proved that the failure that was Dark is the Way, Light is a Place was just a fluke, but also further shown evidence that they still weren’t done pushing the boundaries of their music six albums in. Musical progression has always been something that the band has showcased – they’ve strayed so far from their original pop-punk roots that it’s pretty astounding. The young, immature teenagers relishing in their youthful energy nearly a decade ago have grown, and it’s all for the better. Vital sees Anberlin dabble into a more electronic sound significantly more than they did on past releases. They’ve always used synths to their advantage (“There Is No Mathematics to Love and Loss” and “Haight St.”, anyone?), so the sudden implementation of it into the album’s core sound isn’t all too surprising. It’s tracks like “Type Three” and lead single “Someone Anyone” that benefit the most from Anberlin’s new sonic exploration, the former opening with absolutely beautiful distortion on Stephen Christian’s ethereal vocals.

Vital is a very atmospheric record, more so than Cities in some regards. “Intentions” uses its bouncy synth riff to create its upbeat, semi-aggressive mood while album highlight “Modern Age” has a very grandeur, epic feel to it despite its four-minute runtime. Although it starts off with guitarist Joseph Milligan’s crushing riffs over a heavy beat, the song carries a downtempo mood throughout its entirety, heavily benefitted by all the warbling synthesizers playing at the just the right volume and tempo in the background. As Christian cries “Don’t we all want to belong?” over Milligan’s haunting background vocals, the ethereal mood that resonates throughout the whole song comes to such a gorgeous climax, truly offering some of the best music Anberlin has ever produced.

Even though Vital is an album that is greatly assisted by its use of synthesizers and haunting atmospheres, there are still remnants of their classic sound in the record’s wings. Opener “Self-Starter” kicks off the record in an aggressive fashion, continuing the band’s trend of starting out rough. In fact, it may be one of the band’s heaviest tracks to date. Christian’s hostile vocal performance is the track’s highlight, although the frenetic instrumentation is also worth noting. He actually lets off a nice scream at the bridge’s end (“Push me until you see blood!”). Similarly, “Little Tyrants” exudes energy with its simple yet infectious hook that bears some similarities to “Godspeed”.

Surprisingly, Vital shines brightest with its ballads. “Innocent” utilizes its minimalistic atmosphere to create a truly touching love song, boosted by its use of synths, while “Type Three” and “Other Side” are just dripping with emotion. While several of Anberlin’s ballads in the past fell short due to a lack of energy or weak song structures, all of them manage to get everything right here. On the former, the aforementioned vocal distortion is a nice change of pace and brings something new to Christian’s already astounding singing. When the pianos kick in towards the end, the song reaches a whole new level of emotion that is transcended only once in a while.

While Vital is an album that sees Anberlin dipping their feet into new electronic territory, they haven’t forgotten what made them such a great band in the first place. Rebounding after the weak Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, the Floridian quintet blended tearjerking ballads with aggressive, riff-driven rockers to create a perfect amalgamation of the best of both worlds. Even though the heavy use of synthesizers could have gone woefully wrong, Anberlin implemented them in the right places and with the right effects. From the epic and touching “Modern Age” to the headbanging “Self-Starter”, Vital is the sound of a band with renewed passion and energy, ready to rock the world one last time. No matter how Lowborn is received, the band’s penultimate album will go down in history as one of their best works, with musical progression to boast. Sing it…

”Don't we all want to belong?
Don't we all write our own song?
Let our silence break tonight!”




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user ratings (661)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • teslabarrier (4.5)
    A vital listen....

    Point1 (4.5)
    As a return-to-form, Vital succeeds in every way. As an album, it comes close....

    peartnoy (3.5)
    The most disappointing 3.5 I ever gave to an album....

    toxin (4.5)
    Anberlin's horizons look better than ever in this modern age....

  • gmang (5)
    Question your faith in Cities' invincibility, but don't quite give it up yet....

    Ecnalzen (4.5)
    Further proof of the theory that Anberlin can do no wrong....

    Alex Beebe (4.5)
    As loud as it is whimsical, Vital is irresistibly unique alternative rock, and truly is an...

    skeletalchemy (3)
    After improving in almost every way possible, Anberlin's vocal delivery has this album fee...

  • SowingSeason STAFF (4.5)
    Anberlin smartly evolves while continuing to solidify their position as one of the best al...

    Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
    This album isn't Cities, but it doesn't need to be- it's incredible in its own right...

    Atari CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
    Finally....

    Chevy182 (4)
    Vital may grow to be Anberlin’s new zenith as it combines what made Cities so great with...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Green Baron
May 26th 2014


20356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and that marks the end

for now

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 26th 2014


3398 Comments


teslabarrier's review for this is the greatest review on this site

Digging: The Smashing Pumpkins - Monuments to an Elegy

Green Baron
May 26th 2014


20356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The song is so tragic in its own way, evokes emotions of sadness. It's a little bland, but evokes so much emotion at the same time. The guitars are played really well too. It's got so much dripping emotion that makes me cry. And for a straight male, albums rarely make me cry.


versus

On the former, the aforementioned vocal distortion is a nice change of pace and brings something new to Christian’s already astounding singing. When the pianos kick in towards the end, the song reaches a whole new level of emotion that is transcended only once in a while.


shit we're talking bout the same song too

Green Baron
May 26th 2014


20356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll do something else for this series before they break up too, so it's not over yet

tommygun
May 26th 2014


25434 Comments


edgy f-bomb

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 26th 2014


3398 Comments


it's great because it's so fucking shit chill yours is technically miles better

fallenbird
May 27th 2014


4126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How can you say that Dark Is The Way was emotionless? By any stretch it's their most emotional.

TheSupernatural
May 27th 2014


1298 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listened to this once when it first came out, never bothered with it again.

BeeRyan
May 27th 2014


137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"write", not "right" in that last lyric quote.

I hate all the DitW trashing but other than that, this is well written, even if you didn't talk about Orpheum.

Crawl
May 27th 2014


1649 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The only overrated Anberlin album.

KILL
May 27th 2014


72295 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

sukcs

toxin.
May 27th 2014


12813 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

damn kill a 2.5? that's a lot higher than i thought you'd give this tbh

KILL
May 27th 2014


72295 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i'm full of surprises

toxin.
May 27th 2014


12813 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

clearly

SPRFanOf5H
May 27th 2014


253 Comments


Holy shit, your 14 and you can write reviews better than half the shit I read on other sites? Gotta say man, pretty stoked by that. The rest of your age couldn't even write like this, which is why this is pretty awesome.

Fantastic review, pos'd. Hated Dark Is The Way with a burning passion, so I hope this one is a rebound from that.

Green Baron
May 27th 2014


20356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Hated Dark Is The Way with a burning passion"

so I'm not alone!



Crawl
May 28th 2014


1649 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

2.5 doesn't seem like hating with a burning passion.

Green Baron
May 28th 2014


20356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it was average for their standards

SnakeDelilah
June 12th 2014


9240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh shit i didn't know you wrote this

Digging: Foxing - The Albatross

Green Baron
June 12th 2014


20356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what do you mean



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