Anberlin: Lowburn review

Despite being on a Christian label, appearing in Christian magazines and playing major Christian music festivals, the members of the band Anberlin have never really fully embraced being labled a Christian band. The band’s religious leanings aside, they are about to unleash the newest album Lowborn for Tooth & Nail Records, which is also their final record. Anberlin was formed in Winterhaven, FL in 2002, when their original punk band SaGoh 24/7 called it quits. Since their inception, the band has received critical acclaim from both fans and critics alike. Lowborn is the band’s 7th studio album and according to a press release earlier this year will unfortunately be the band’s last, much to the disappointment of the legions of dedicated fans across the globe. Lead singer Stephen Christian said “The break-up is completely amicable. It’s just the result of changing life priorities, focus and direction.” He went on to add, “Lowborn is eclectic and chaotic, just like a good Anberlin record should be.” Lowborn was once again produced by the band and longtime collaborators Aaron Marsh, Matt Goldman and Aaron Sprinkle. It was mixed by Chad Howatt and mastered by Troy Glessner. Knowing it would be their last, the band felt true artistic freedom and liberated from any form of pressure or expectation. It takes mere seconds of opener “We Are Destroyer” for the floodgates to burst open and the listener to be swept away in the band’s unencumbered creative juices. With keyboards that emulate Tangerine Dream, combined with bittersweet melodies, taut rhythms and rich vocal tapestries, it is an instant classic. The analog warmth of the intro is the perfect prelude to the cleverly crafted melodies that lie just beneath the surface in “Armageddon” while the atmospheric keyboards and eloquent hooks of lead single “Stranger Ways” are a throwback to the 80’s, they are still instantly recognizable as Anberlin. “Velvet Covered Brick” is a genre smashing crossover that would have been the perfect bridge between the Never Take Friendship Personal and Cities albums. Elsewhere, the simple yet effective keyboards, alluring hooks and soaring choruses of “Atonement” captures the essence of the Blueprints For The Black Market album. The ambient melodies, accessible hooks and emotive choral harmonies of “Birds Of Prey” continue the sonic evolution set forth on the Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place and Vital albums while “Dissenter” follows the same industrial aesthetics of Ministry. From there the album takes an unexpected 180 degree turn, with the infectious, radio ready, pop tinged hooks of “Losing It All.” At the same time, “Hearing Voices” finds the band tapping into their inner Linkin Park, channeling those dynamic rhythms and anthemic choruses. Whereas the eerie hypnotic elegance of closer “Harbinger” will leave you utterly fixated and begging for more. Here’s the bottom line- If this is truely this remarkable band’s swan song, then they are leaving on a transcendental high note. Rating: 8/10 -Eric Hunker