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Released: Sep 30, 2008
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Universal Republic
Number Of Tracks: 12
Anberlin can never be accused of being lazy. Only a year or so after it's last album was released, the Florida group was busy at work and ready to deliver yet another set of songs.
UG Team, on october 01, 2008 4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Anberlin can never be accused of being lazy. Only a year or so after it's last album was released, the Florida group was busy at work and ready to deliver yet another set of songs. This time around they had a bit different scenario, however: They landed themselves a major label deal. The product of that deal is New Surrender, an album that is both chock full of memorable choruses and impressive riffs. Even though Anberlin tends to lean toward a pop rock sound at times, guitarists Joseph Milligan and Christian McAlhaney come out of nowhere and deliver some of the band's best (and most metal-like) moments.
Apparently vocalist Stephen Christian was influenced lyrically by some heavy topics on this album, but don't get the impression that New Surrender is an overly serious album. It still is rooted in pop, although the last few songs do relay more of an introspective feel. The opening track The Resistance is one of the best tracks on the CD, delivering somewhat of an 80's rock sound. It features an instantly catchy chorus, and later, a very cool, grooving riff in the bridge section. In fact, if you just hear the bridge, you might very well think that Anberlin is actually a hard rock band. The guitars add a great contrast, and on the whole The Resistance is arranged extremely well.
There are quite a few songs that are reminiscent of Motion City Soundtrack minus the trademark Moog. Probably the biggest similarity is that fact that Christian has the same smoothness that Justin Pierre does in his vocal style, which also lends itself to the many harmonies heard on New Surrender. In general, the band is at it's strongest with the more upbeat tracks that have that Motion City feel, and it may be because ballads like Retrace just don't accentuate the instrumentation. It sounds like there is a string section (or at least a synthesizer) in Retrace, but most of the focus is given to Christian. He gives a solid performance, but the song falls flat in comparison to the textures created in other tracks.
It should be noted that The Feel Good Drag (which originally appeared on the Never Take Friendship Personal album) has been rerecorded for the new album. The band has never been huge, so it's understandable why they would want to give a strong track like The Feel Good Drag another chance. While it's a good song, the strongest track is saved for last. The closer is all about setting things up for a climactic finish. Misearbile Visu starts out with a simple drum beat, with all instruments slowly but surely joining in the cool, laid-back vibe. The track keeps a darker sound throughout, building layer up layer until it eventually explodes into a thick wall of sound. This is another song that features impeccable guitar work and it proves that this is not just a band out to have a single. // 9
Lyrics: Christian has mentioned that he was inspired by everything from the war to the effect of terminal diseases to relationships when he wrote lyrics for New Surrender. It covers a large amount of territory, but Christian does a fine job of presenting his thoughts in new ways. He does a solid job with the usual subject of love, but he tends to shine when he reaches into darker places. In Disappear he sings, Dark-lit streets are no place for kids; But it gives us more of a home than we've ever lived before; We're the scientists left to our own demise. They bring about haunting images lyrically and it does take the song to a completely different level. // 9
Overall Impression: Anberlin has a new producer (Neal Avron) and a new label (Universal Republic), and this is a case where the results are truly successful. The quintet was already a talented group with competent musicians, but there does seem to be a new emphasis on creating textures of instrumentation. That does make for a great part of the album, but in the end, it's solid songwriting that carries the album. // 9
forgiveforget, on october 01, 2008 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 8
Overall Impression: 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. // 10
seemurdoch, on november 10, 2008 1 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: Anberlin has been by favourite band for the past couple of years. But their new album, "New Surrender" has made rethink of how talented they really are. "New Surrender" is saved by about five decent songs. "Breaking", "Disappear", "Retrace" and "Miserable Visu (ex Malo Bonum)"-or four tracks, sorry-are the only songs that rescue this record from the dumps to join artists like Hawk Nelson, All Time Low and Switchfoot. "Disappear" pumped my adrenaline for this record when I first heard it live in August. I instantly added it to my Myspace profile and changed my layout to a "New Surrender" motif (this all changed thirty days later, following the release). "Disappear" contains the likes of previous works such as "There Are No Mathematics To Love and Loss", "Godspeed, and "Glass to the Arson". The chorus's harmony aligned between the vox and keyboard instantly caught my ears. "Retrace" is the traditional Anberlin love song mourning over some poor ex-girlfriend. Stephen Christian's from the throat vox pierce souls in this one and prove that he has not lost his vocal talents.
"Breaking" is again a traditional poor chick song. If you liked Anberlin's previous single "The Unwinding Cable Car" you'll like this one as well. Simple keyboard doo doo doo's follow along the jumpy guitar riffs during the intro and Stephen humiliates some chick with "You make stealing hearts look so easy/where is the girl I adore?" The best aspect about Anberlin is that they can be so damn direct, but hidden. The darkness and honesty is what I dig about Anberlin.
Again I'll bring the best track of the record into play. "Miserable Visu" takes a liking of Stephen Christian's side project, Anchor & Braille. Somber and wholesome keyboard notes pulse along with sloth drums until the bridge where choppy and crunchy guitar chords mush in and muted vox drift along with a beautiful harmony. This song is overall one of the best Anberlin works ever, if not thee best. A work like this, does not deserve an unworthy home of "New Surrender". // 5
Lyrics: The lyrics of Stephen Christian have been the key attraction for most Anberlin fans. But in this album, it seems that Stephen handed over his pen to a seventh grade youth group addict. The last record, "Cities", seemed emo, but the lyrics were clever and cunning. In "Surrender", the talent of "Cities" is hardly seen. Such as in "Younglife" when Christian sings "Hey brother/do you remember when... /". And following the chorus, the backup vox sing along with a ever-so-predictable 'la la la' interlude. "Breathe" is the most cliche song on the record. The words have simply been wrote before. This is where that youth group kid comes in. "No need to hide anything anymore/can't return to who I was before." Then the cheezy chorus comes along and I can just smell the chedder oozing out of the speakers by this time. Nate Young's bass drum pumps up a heartbeat, strings cry out a joyful vomit-worthy harmony and Stephen sings "I can finally breathe/suddenly alive." Eh? I think I heard that about ten years ago when the Newsboys came around. Heads up Anberlin, you're a Warped Tour band, not Creation Festival. Hallelujah!
However, in "Miserable Visu (ex Malo Bonum)" we see the exact opposite. The song is a religious piece, but the lyrics are deep and shuttering. We see a glance at "Cities" when the second verse comes along: "The sun will turn dark very soon/your days are numbered when there's blood on the moon". The best thing about Stephen Christian lyrics are when he forces the listener to ponder the moral of the song. This is what this album lacks: intelligence. // 6
Overall Impression: Despite signing onto a major lable, Universal Republic Records, Anberlin still failed to impress the royalty of modern day rock pros. It's obvious that the guys are taking a shot at a more mature approach, but this one did not get anywhere close to the bull's eye. "New Surrender" is the most religious of their four albums, but it is also the worst. Showing your fans something that they are not immune to, does not always prove benifitial. The people who enjoy this record are people who either have a restricted music base, are hardcore christians or do not know Anberlin's previous works.
Advice to Anberlin, cheese is not good for musicians. Scientifically, it coats the throat and makes singing difficult. News to talented vocalist Stephen Christian who sings through his throat. But morally, it's sticky, heavy and hard to get rid of. The best thing to do would be to rid yourself of the cheesiness and stick to that previous edge of "Cities". Eat some power bars instead.
Saying God and Lord in your lyrics are completely different than singing Jesus. Jesus wears sandals, not Vans. If you want to stay on Warped Tour, stop saying Jesus. Orchestra is great, but only in a sad song, not an uplifting breath of air. We can resperate fine without the exhaling strings, thankyou. Don't do what's already been done. What has not been done is Anberlin, no one else has done Anberlin like the previous albums did. Everyone has done Anberlin like "New Surrender" did. Stick to your own guns, not the Newsboys's. // 6