Anberlin
Lowborn


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
July 16th, 2014 | 647 replies | 24,416 views


Release Date: 07/22/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fin.

The curtains are finally closing for Anberlin. The question facing most listeners as they approach the band’s final album is “how will a group renowned for creating epic closing tracks write an end to its entire career?” I’m not going to sit here and tell you that they went all out – there’s no larger-than-life closer, nothing at all to suggest that Anberlin is trying to make a flashy exit. It’s one of the band’s slowest albums, in fact, and there’s a large absence of instrumental demonstration across the board. In spite of all these harsh truths facing Lowborn, it is still easily one of their best albums to date though – and that is what makes it so damn fascinating from a critical standpoint. To summarize: Stephen Christian put a technically subpar album on his shoulders, sang his heart out, and gave longtime fans a worthy epilogue to an eleven year old story.

Even though Anberlin has reached its conclusion, the vocal and lyrical aspect of the band has just reached its pinnacle. There’s no other way to put it – Christian leaves it all in the studio on this one. Fans of Cities will be most pleased with the thoughtful lyrics penned on ‘Hearing Voices’, which critiques the hypocrisy of modern religion – “Everyone wants to see heaven, but no one wants to die…everyone wants to know God, but they want to live like he died.” This would have been a fantastic closer, but we’ll have to settle for it merely existing near the end of the record. There’s a true sense of finality to it, which is something that all fans will be seeking here. Christian duplicates his effort on the emotional ‘Losing It All’ – a goodbye track of sorts that exclaims “It’s not losing it all if we have each other” and “As long as you say you are mine, we’ll see the other side together." It’s transparent in terms of what it means, but its execution and the way Stephen Christian delivers it is nothing short of brilliant. Spiritual and other religious implications also runneth over, but it’s not preaching so much as it is Anberlin coming full circle; indulging their deepest beliefs and sharing them with anyone who will listen for one last time.

The massive hooks and catchy choruses that the band has forever been associated with also return, providing Lowborn with some of the group’s most memorable tracks. ‘Atonement’ comes to mind immediately, and mainly because Christian’s vocals soar high and low to keep up with the most melodic ballad the band has crafted since ‘Unwinding Cable Car.’ The slight electronic wash over the guitar chords and steady drum beats give the atmosphere a lush, almost permeable feeling – as if Christian and company are passing through to a different dimension while performing in the studio. There’s actually a great deal of this occurring throughout Lowborn. If Anberlin used Vital to cautiously test the electronic water, then this album is them wading in chest-deep. The alt-rock elements of their early years are still tangible, but this is as far removed from Blueprints For The Black Market as they have ever been. The evolution feels at its fullest during ‘Armageddon’, a track that defies the vast majority of the band’s roots by rocking to-and-fro with a futuristic beat while fluidly progressing on its gleaming, electronic wax coat. There will certainly be diehard fans who disapprove, but to hell with it. If a band wants to take a victory lap around its career by experimenting – and the results sound pretty good – then it’s not worth picking apart.

To that note, there is quite a bit here to be picked apart. Lowborn is Anberlin’s least technically proficient album, opting for simple instrumentation while pushing the vocals to the forefront. In this way, the album is actually closer to Dark is the Way, Light is a Place than it is to any of the other band’s efforts. Make no mistake, though – this isn’t pop music. The alt-rock elements of their early years are still tangible, which ‘We Are Destroyer’ makes abundantly clear by kicking down the door with a vintage Anberlin staple: crashing guitars with heavy percussion. Most of the time, Lowborn is characterized by a give-and-take between straightforward rock and a more modernized digital shine, but it’s nice to know that this band – even at the end of its career – can still rock out like it’s nobody’s business. ‘Dissenter’ takes care of those worries, putting forth the heaviest display of percussion, driving riffs, and screaming vocals that Anberlin has ever displayed. ‘Velvet Covered Brick’ is further evidence that Anberlin has not completely lost their instrumental focus, with an opening riff that will devour your ears and drum fills that ring out like rapid-fire bullets. So, in short, we can rest assuredly that Lowborn’s relaxed approach is a deliberate choice and not an incapability on the band’s part.

There’s a lot of things that Anberlin could have done differently with Lowborn. Initially, the slower tempo, along with the absence of “final album epicness” (as I coined it in my head) may be off-putting, especially to fans who conjured up great expectations for an album filled to the brim with clones of ‘Godspeed’, ‘Little Tyrants’, and ‘Fin.’ But this album offers something different, and it’s a quality that may reveal itself with time to be equally as important to listeners as a towering, magnum opus would have been. This album has heart. It’s lyrically representative of everything that Anberlin is, and outside of the fact that they are one of alt-rock’s catchier groups, that has always been the one thing that set this band apart from everyone else. Lowborn is a gift to fans. Anberlin clearly tries to infuse it with elements from all eras of the band’s existence – it rocks out (even if sparingly), it glides atop glorious melodies, and it fills our minds with imperative questions about ourselves, our beliefs, and our society as a whole. Because of that, Anberlin is a band that will never truly die.




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user ratings (192)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



15556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is my 225th review, I'm happy with the band and album that it happened to land on.

Digging: The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

iswimfast
July 16th 2014



1282 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nailed it of course

Digging: A Sunny Day in Glasgow - Sea When Absent

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



3409 Comments


Hoo boy

Rowan5215
July 16th 2014



25003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic review although "as if Christian and company are passing through to a different dimension while performing in the studio" was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser
This is probably my second favourite album they've ever done. Destroyer, Velvet, Dissenter and Harbinger are just too good

Digging: Shihad - FVEY

tommygun
July 16th 2014



24137 Comments


gotta czech this one still

nice rev sowing

Digging: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



31047 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

I DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS AT ALL. THIS IS MALARKEY I TELL YOU!

Digging: Marcel Dettmann - Fabric 77

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



15556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Reported. Think about what you've said while you clean up your own comment, Dev! ; )

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



31047 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I walked away underwhelmed by this. Here's a band that, for me, showed up with a kind of poppy post hardcore approach to their music, who then moved closer and closer to alternative rock, and then in their last outing released a somewhat mediocre, not-entirely-boring "emotional" rock album that never really felt like it ever reached a suitable climax

fromtheinside
July 16th 2014



17905 Comments


this made me sad immediately

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that they went all out – there’s no larger-than-life closer, nothing at all to suggest that Anberlin is trying to make a flashy exit.


this is seriously one of your best dude. loved every word

Digging: Coroner - No More Color

Rowan5215
July 16th 2014



25003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

its a grower

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



15556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Deviant: I thought of it as around a 3 the first time I listened, and I'm a big fan of the band.
It's a grower (that's the lame term people slap on any shitty album nowadays, I know) , but a big part
of my appreciation for this stems from the lyrics. There's definitely some allusions that I'm
convinced Christian placed here just for people like me, who analyze lyrics and will realize how they
came full-circle on this record.

But yeah I'm not surprised Dev, when I wrote this review I was under the assumption it would be a
surprise rating to most. Somewhere along the line people started liking it more though which is
awesome.

fromtheinside
July 16th 2014



17905 Comments


it sounds like they just made another album... one we knew would be their last, not necessarily them

fromtheinside
July 16th 2014



17905 Comments


that summary tho SS? could u BE more cliche? haha

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



31047 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Gonna need to return to ALL CAPS again

WHY IS THE FEEL GOOD DRAG NOT ON THIS ONE???

fromtheinside
July 16th 2014



17905 Comments


feel good drag is their best song wow agreed

but the remake tho or the original?!?!

Tyrael
July 16th 2014



20797 Comments


rip in pieces

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



15556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

that summary tho SS? could u BE more cliche? haha

It's like you don't even KNOW me! ; ) I was trained in the dark arts of cliche by the almighty sith lord DaveyBoy.

WHY IS THE FEEL GOOD DRAG NOT ON THIS ONE???

That would have been clever for them to put it on here...again. "Was this over before, before it ever began!?"

fromtheinside
July 16th 2014



17905 Comments


would u say that stephen finally sounds ok with his beliefs here? not that his struggle ever
mattered to me, but it was what made them so intruiging to me initially and i love a band that at
least contemplates the existence of God rather just singing about him

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
July 16th 2014



15556 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah I would. That's why I love "Hearing Voices" so much. It's like the lyrical resolution to Fin. -
it's acceptance of his beliefs, and critique of modern hypocrisy (everybody wants to know God, but
they want to live like he died). At least that's how I took it.

Also I read a comment somewhere calling 'Atonement' a love song which isn't exactly on point. It's
more about his religious struggle and acceptance than people realize or will care to admit when they
do realize it.

fromtheinside
July 16th 2014



17905 Comments


well between this review, that comment, and the hope that they made anything NEAR "Closer" i'm sold



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