Sound — 9
Album number four for Stephen Christian and company and they show off their improved focus and intensity (notably with a new guitarist Christian McAlhaney.) While New Surrender brings nothing radically different to the Anberlin sound from Cities it certainly has improved. Alright well straight to it, opening track The Resistance starts things off with a bang showcasing heavy guitar riffs and raw powerful drums, sharp contrast between Christian's signature piercing voice and the sonic chaos that is the driving guitars under him. More or less reminiscent of Godspeed from their previous album cities, although with a new ferocity and intensity. From there on out the album is a sonic roller coaster exploring every corner of Anberlin's extensive sonic palette. Blame Me! Blame Me! is a highlight with a poppier sound but still retaining that edge that sets Anberlin apart from the fluff of most pop punk bands today. From there on Retrace, Disappear, and Younglife shine in the mellower department. While not particularly guitar heavy the arrangements are quite good, with skillful use of instrumentation. Then what's an Anberlin album without some electronica and synthesizers, Disappear is one of the highlights, they finally mastered the art of using synths to complement the song instead of being ridiculously annoying like on previous albums. Then sprinkled here and there are quite good songs that fit more or less into those categories. Then there is the epic, following the same formula as in previous albums there is always a long epic song at the end this time Misearbile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum). It sure sounds epic to say the least I mean latin, that's deep. Anyways it's again nothing out of the ordinary following along the lines of fin from Cities with a mellow beginning building into a climax and a stunning finish. Doesn't break the mold but it's still one hell of a song. All in all it's a nice sounding album, they really hit the points they set out to and managed to be really diverse but that's also one of the weaker points. The album is really ambitious with it's different moods but it just doesn't flow very well. Individually though the songs are pretty flawless.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically they've departed from the tried and true relationship themes. While still it's present throughout the album, this time around they've changed it up a bit and matured a lot. Some songs recall his childhood, others recall his love freeing him, others it burying him. Nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, it's solid songwriting and it does have shining moments here and there but again nothing special. While the delivery is really unique, Stephen Christian's voice is really suited well to the music, it is high but not harsh, it carries well above the instruments but still complements the song. While he does have a pretty voice his ace in the hole is his ability to let out a raw scream straight from his soul (can't remember if there's any of it on this album, it was definitely a highlight in previous ones). Solid work guys.
Overall Impression — 10
New Surrender is one of those albums that seems like it could be disc two on another album. In this case most of the songs seem like they would be right at home on "Cities". Highlights are definitely "The Resistance", "Blame Me! Blame Me!", "Retrace", "Breathe", "Soft Skeletons" and the final epic "Misearbile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)". All in all a solid album and it's going to be exciting to see if Anberlin will bring about a new direction in upcoming albums as they have a solid foundation of great work on this album. Although I would've liked something different you can't complain when the end result is as good as this, if it were stolen I would definitely buy it again. Keep up the good work guys.