Anberlin - Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place

Album cover
Rock
Universal Republic
Anberlin
Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Anberlin - Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place Review rating:
4.5
User rating:
Average: 4.8 (10 votes)

The past few years have been a whirlwind for Anberlin. In 2007, the band released Cities, an absolute classic, and shortly after, the band signed to major label Universal Republic and released 2008’s New Surrender. While that record had its merits, including the chart-topping re-recording of “Feel Good Drag,” it suffered from almost too-slick production and clunky experiments like the faux-campfire track “Younglife.” Needless to say, many fans were disappointed. Fast forward two years, the band has reemerged from the studio with their fifth full-length album, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place, an album that, while not as immediately catchy as their past work, shows the world that Anberlin has matured from a typical scene staple into a force to be reckoned with in the world of modern rock.

The maturation in Anberlin’s sound is immediately evident from the opening notes of “We Owe This To Ourselves.” A track that follows Anberlin’s tradition of darker album openers, it truly lets frontman Stephen Christian’s impassioned voice shine as he screams  “It didn’t have to end like this/Is this the end of everything.” Immediately following up “We Owe This To Ourselves” is lead single “Impossible” and “Take Me As You Found Me,” two mid-paced songs that focus around heartbreak, and truly give Christian center stage. The instrumentation on “Impossible” weaves itself in and out of Christian’s singing, while still allowing guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney plenty of room to shine. “Take Me As You Find Me” brings to the table everything that New Surrender’s “Breathe” lacked, with Christian sounding more vulnerable and emotional than he has since Cities’s “(*Fin).” On “Closer,” a song destined for the top of the radio charts, Milligan and McAlhaney’s guitar work soars higher than it ever has, while “You Belong To Me” sparkles majestically with a choir opening and chorus that sees Christian’s voice soaring over the band like a rainbow arching over a rainforest. “Pray Tell” sees the group experimenting with handclaps and footstomp, while on “The Art Of War” Stephen delicately laments a long lost lover. “To The Wolves” is a direct throwback to Anberlin’s roots after several tracks of experimentation, with Christian howling “You left me to the wolves.” “Down” is an acoustic track that is obviously supposed to be reminiscent of such gems as “Inevitable” and “The Unwinding Cable Car,” yet seems as out of place as “Dear God” was on Avenged Sevenfold’s self-titled, while “Depraved,” the fourth of Anberlin’s famous epic closing tracks, lives up to its expected hype, far surpassing New Surrender’s “Misearbile Visu.”

Overall, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place, is a brilliant album. While the tracks do not hold the immediate appeal that their previous releases did, like a fine wine they age very nicely. Once again, the band is moving into new territory (“Pray Tell”) while still showing that they can pull their classic sound off with aplomb (“To The Wolves,” “We Owe This To Ourselves”), and lead vocalist Stephen Christian is able to inject these ten tracks with the emotion that New Surrender oh so desperately lacked. The future is bright for Anberlin. Artistic integrity and major label support are the keys to a successful career, and Anberlin has both. The success the band tasted with the release of New Surrender was just a theatrical trailer; Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place marks the beginning of the feature film.

1. We Owe This To Ourselves
2. Impossible
3. Take Me As You Found Me
4. Closer
5. You Belong To Me
6. Pray Tell
7. The Art Of War
8. To The Wolves
9. Down
10. Depraved

Anberlin was formed in 2002 in Orlando, FL, USA. Their debut album, Blueprints For The Black Market, was quite successful. Spurred on by popular singles Readyfuels and Change the World, it sold over 60,000 copies and raised Anberlin's profile. They released their sophomore album, Never Take Friendship Personal, in February 2005. The album was praised by critics, garnering favourable reviews and winning the band new fans.

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