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Review – Anberlin "New Surrender" (2008) August 25, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2008, Anberlin.
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Written by Andrew

Anberlin are indie legends, this much few can dispute. On Tooth and Nail Records, the alt-rock quintet released three critic and fan acclaimed albums and have gained a following enough to make every unsigned band around the world drool a new Nile River. Universal Records took notice of this, and immediatly signed the popular Florida rockers to a record deal shortly after the 2007 release of Cities. Now, not even two years following that release, Anberlin is locked and loaded with another album to try and add to their newfound fame, and maybe finally reel in a mainstream audience to compliment their cult following.

New Surrender is the end result of Anberlin’s hard work, and my oh my are you in for a treat if you pick this disc up having never heard this band before. “The Resistance” is a strong opening track with a catchy anthem street-riot chorus. It’s actually a distinct change of pace for a band who’s based so much on melody to come out with a gritty opener such as this, but it nonetheless captures your attention and pulls you into the complex world of Anberlin. As always, Stephen Christian’s intense lead vocals provide the biggest thrills on this track, but it’s certainly not all of the thrilling to be had. The second song “Breaking” submerges you in a more typical track from this band and as Christian coolly sings “You make breaking hearts look so easy,” the entrancing guitar work and strong back-up vocal pulls you all the way in. Anberlin then introduces you to the catchy “Blame Me! Blame Me!” and the hauntingly beautiful “Retrace.” Just four songs in the listener is bombarded with a mutated quadruped that shows off all of the bands strengths, but the best is yet to come.

“Feel Good Drag”, the lead single and remix from the 2005 release Never Take Friendship Personal hits with a powerful chorus led by overwhelmingly strong vocals and excellent musicianship. “Feel Good Drag” is one of the most polished songs on the album and surprisingly even better than it was three years ago. “Disappear” is next and attacks with a sharp, electronic chorus that brings out the headbanger within anyone. These two songs back to back provide a fantastic middle to the album and keep you clinging to the disc like a long lost child. “Breathe” is a gorgeous and inspiring song that might just be able to bring tears to your eyes, the emotion infused in the song is THAT strong. “Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)” follows up with a combination of the last three songs, perfectly recapturing the emotion, catchiness, and well-crafted music into one song. It pays off to an extent, but this track feels more like a B-side, despite all of that.

The album starts to lose a bit of steam at the end but hardly enough to damage the album. “Younglife” has a fantastic chorus and backbeat but still feels strangely askew in this collection of music, and “Haight St.” though certainly catchy as hell, sounds like so many other pop punk radio tunes in execution that it feels like it’s far below a band with this kind of talent. As they’ve made a habit of doing, Anberlin closes the album with a nice long closer. “Misearbile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)” clocks in at a sound 6:36 but lacks what is necessary to make this song as entrancing as say “(*Fin)” the closer from Cities. It’s a fascinating track in tempo and overall vibe but it wears out it’s welcome before the track ends the disc. It’s a disappointing way to close out an excellent album.

As it stands, Anberlin is an extremely talented group, so much so that’s it hard to figure out anything wrong with what they do. Christian’s voice is unique and adds a touch of class to this band, the lyrics are beautiful and interesting without being cliche, and the drumming and guitar play continues to improve from past endeavors. The biggest problem with New Surrender is that Anberlin arguably raised the bar too high with the first half of the disc and when the second half couldn’t meet up it feels like a worse CD because of it. Don’t let it fool you though, this collection is a fantastic one, filled with memorable songs that’ll have you singing along for days.

The Point – Anberlin’s latest is full of catchy, well-written songs, and is only brought down by a slight decrease toward the end of the album.

9.5 out of 10

Download This – “Disappear”

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