A lot of people reading this will be unfamiliar with the band so lets do a brief recap. Anberlin are a US rock band hailing from Florida and have this year celebrated 10 years as a band. Vital is the 6th album released in that time with their 3rd album Cities is still classed as their career defining release. Although reasonably successful on their own turf (getting high in the mainstream Billboards 200 charts as well as number 1’s in the alternative chart) on this side of their Atlantic they ghost under the radar.
Vital opens with Self-Starter which displays the typical Anberlin vigor and energy that their fans have expected from them with vocalist Stephen Christian weaving his lyrics over frantic winding guitars before exploding into a huge chorus it finely treads the line between melodic and heavy all at the once. Little Tyrants (which was inspired by last years Egyptian riots) is destined to start all kinds of mayhem on the dancefloors with Christian seemingly channeling the energy of those uprisings with his lyrics about leaders so lost in greed that they are devoid of humanity whilst trying to cling to the power that they crave.
Anberlin don’t just make tunes to make you dance and have a good time they are also one of the most capable bands in existence when it comes to writing ballads which is shown in Innocent which features Christian singing to a recently deceased relative recalling his last experience of the deceased and singing that “You will live on in the hearts of men constantly” its quite an emotional rollercoaster contained in the 4:17 track it leaves you feeling drained.
A constant throughout all Anberlin’s releases have been the last track on the album which is normally the longest and once again Vital delivers the goods with God, Drugs & Sex a tale of a relationship where one of the partners is feeling unfulfilled and having a desire to feel loved again. This track shows just how good Stephen Christian’s vocals are, with his high falsetto vocals coming down the scale almost to spoken word and the vocal interplay he does with guest vocalist Christie DuPree throughout the second verse/chorus section utilising her husky vocals to set himself up as a higher whispered vocals is a definite album highlight.
Overall this album is a welcome return to form from 2010 Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place (which came across as a tad disjointed) and it is clear to me that the return of Aaron Spinkle to producer after a few albums out have helped reignite the spark that makes the band so beloved to me. Although its no Cities beater its hopefully an indication of a band returning to form. The only criticism I have of this album its that there are too many electronic elements thrown in with the music that don’t fit but otherwise I would recommend that everyone gives this at least one listen and that they check Anberlin out when they hit our shores in the next few weeks.