12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Vital restores the ferocious yet intelligent edge that made Amberlin's early releases stand out from the ranks of typical Christian rock. Reunited with original producer Aaron Sprinkle, the quintet flexes real musical muscle as it explores themes both personal and political. The album transcends the confines of emo-pop with hard-punching tracks powered by the punishing drum work of Nathan Young. Stephen Christian continues to show an uncommon ability to combine raw force with emotional nuance as lead singer. Searing tunes like “Self-Starter” and polished ballads like “Innocence” are delivered with conviction. Vital’s sonic mix of brawny ‘90s-esque rock guitar, well-sculpted melodies, and atmospheric electronica frames lyrics that range from urgent anti-war pleas (“Someone Anyone”) to prayerful ruminations (“Other Side”) and angry breakup tirades (“Desires"). The showstopper here is the closing track, “God, Drugs & Sex,” a darkly tender dissection of a tormented relationship featuring the honeyed guest vocals of Christie DuPree. Anberlin here achieves a heroic sound that should impress old and new fans alike.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Vital restores the ferocious yet intelligent edge that made Amberlin's early releases stand out from the ranks of typical Christian rock. Reunited with original producer Aaron Sprinkle, the quintet flexes real musical muscle as it explores themes both personal and political. The album transcends the confines of emo-pop with hard-punching tracks powered by the punishing drum work of Nathan Young. Stephen Christian continues to show an uncommon ability to combine raw force with emotional nuance as lead singer. Searing tunes like “Self-Starter” and polished ballads like “Innocence” are delivered with conviction. Vital’s sonic mix of brawny ‘90s-esque rock guitar, well-sculpted melodies, and atmospheric electronica frames lyrics that range from urgent anti-war pleas (“Someone Anyone”) to prayerful ruminations (“Other Side”) and angry breakup tirades (“Desires"). The showstopper here is the closing track, “God, Drugs & Sex,” a darkly tender dissection of a tormented relationship featuring the honeyed guest vocals of Christie DuPree. Anberlin here achieves a heroic sound that should impress old and new fans alike.

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Customer Reviews

5 out of 5

855 Ratings

A near-perfect record. Cities, watch your back...

InChristAlone777,

When Anberlin announced that they were going to record their third major label release with Aaron Sprinkle, the anticipation of this record couldn't be overstated. Both "New Surrender" and "Dark is the Way, Light is a Place" had their share of disappointed fans. Could this the Anberlin record that puts them back on the map of our hearts? Cheesiness aside, after multiple listens, it's safe to say that Vital is most certainly the Anberlin album we've waited for since their magnum opus, "Cities". That being said if you're one of many fans who hold "Cities" in the highest regards then do not, I repeat, do NOT expect a "Cities Pt. 2". This album breaks completely new ground for Anberlin and sounds nothing like what they've done before. In some ways it feels like the natural progression from "Dark is the Way, Light is a Place", and yet it also feels like it's antithesis. (contrasting the dark and moody tone of that record with a newfound aggression and upbeatness) Both records actually compliment each other rather well in this regard.

Now onto the sound. The first thing you'll notice is that the band incorporates a lot of electronics in the mix. Although you may be taken aback at first (I was slightly) the electronics completely give this record an identity of it's own, and they only enhance the sound we've come to know and love from the band. Stephen sounds as good as ever and the rest of the band is at their absolute best as well. And speaking of the sound we've come to know and love from the band, this album has it all. You want soaring melodies? See "Other Side" and "Modern Age". (the latter of which will undoubtedly be a fan favorite) You want breathtaking ballads? The electronic "Innocent" and chill-inducing "Type Three" will definitely satisfy. And what about that aggression the band promised? Well look no further than "Desires" and the grin-from-ear-to-ear nostalgia of "Litte Tyrants". If you're not afraid to explore new territory then "Intentions", "Orpheum", and the afformentioned "Other Side" are among the freshest offerings here. And speaking of "Intentions", it certainly may be the catchiest Anberlin tune of all time as Stephen croons over an infectious synth line. Look for this one on the radio in the future.
As usual Anberlin is known for both opening and closing their records in epic fashion. As an opener, "Self-Starter" easily rivals "Godspeed" as the greatest Anberlin opener ever. As a closer, "God, Drugs, and Sex" may not take the place of "(*Fin)" in the hearts of fans, but it's certainly a more than worthy closer boasting some of the best vocals we've ever heard from Stephen Christian. And when his falsetto combines with guest vocalist Christie DuPree's gorgeous voice, it's absolutely heavenly.

I've already made this review much longer than it needs to be, but I'm still basking in the glow of this remarkable record. Is it as good a "Cities"? Truthfully, I don't know. Fans like myself will always gravitate back to "Cities" no matter what because it's a journey that can never be repeated. But comparisons aside, Vital is easily one of the best displays of talent we've heard from the band yet.

The Neon-Tinged Epic of Anberlin

Rob Poppell,

With their new-wave-esque vocals and relentless guitar riffs, Anberlin has always been right on the edge of some otherwordly 80s rock sound. Just from listening to these quickly-deleted iTunes previews, I'm getting the sense that Vital will finally be a FULL realization of the band's potential. I was excited about Someone Anyone and Self-Starter, but the clips of Other Side, Orpheum, and Modern Age are on another plane altogether. This album is going to be massively epic.

About Anberlin

Hailing from Orlando, Florida, Anberlin formed from the ashes of various other area projects. Led by the soaring vocals of Stephen Christian, the positive-thinking Anberlin also included Joseph Milligan (guitar), Nathan Young (drums), Joey Bruce (guitar), and Deon Rexroat (bass), and presented an alternative pop/rock sound that, while inflected with the earnestness of emo, was closer to the mature stylings of Third Eye Blind. A five-song demo garnered Anberlin the attention of Seattle-based indie label Tooth & Nail, which signed the group in 2002. Blueprints for the Black Market marked the band's debut in May 2003, and Anberlin supported the album with shows alongside groups like Fall Out Boy and Story of the Year. Second guitarist Nathan Strayer later joined the lineup, and Anberlin returned in February 2005 with Never Take Friendship Personal. Their third record, Cities, appeared two years later and debuted at number 19 on the Billboard charts; soon after its release, however, Strayer made his exit and was replaced by former Acceptance guitarist Christian McAlhaney.

Released in 2008, New Surrender saw the retooled band joining the roster of Universal Republic Records and enlisting the help of Neal Avron, who had formerly produced records for Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, and New Found Glory. In early 2010, Anberlin went into the studio with Grammy-winning producer Brendan O'Brien, and later that year released their fifth studio album, Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place. The compilation Dancing Between the Fibers of Time: The Best of Anberlin's Tooth & Nail Years appeared two years later. Anberlin then released their sixth studio album, 2012's Vital, which featured a heavier rock and metal sound colored by some electronic flourishes. In 2014, Anberlin announced they were disbanding and released their seventh and final studio album, Lowborn. Released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of their second studio album, Never Take Friendship Personal, a live recording of a 2014 performance of the album in full, Never Take Friendship Personal: Live in New York City, was issued in 2015. ~ Johnny Loftus

  • ORIGIN
    Winter Haven, FL
  • FORMED
    2002

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