When I interviewed Anberlin at this year’s Warped Tour, they mentioned that although very different, Lowborn was one of their proudest works to date. That everything they’d ever wanted to do on a recording, but hadn’t, is on this one. The eclectic mix of sounds is evident, and for those looking for a flow like 2007’s Cities, you won’t find it here. However, there is something incredibly fresh and admirable about an album with so many twists and turns. That a band who has been around for over 10 years and put out 7 studio albums could still surprise this dedicated listener, is impressive in itself. But as you listen to the many faces of Lowborn, this one fact stays evident: this is a band with passion. A band that has never been complacent, and a band who has never taken for granted what they have.
Diving into the last new Anberlin album I’ll ever hear is not something I take lightly. As I switch play on the first track, “We Are Destroyer,” I can tell I’m in for an adventure. Already the music comes at me full force, with Stephen Christian’s vocals stronger, louder, and harder than ever. It’s an in-your-face introduction, and I’m all ears.
Easing into a much gentler track comes “Armageddon,” and for a second I’m taken back to the haunting tones of “Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum) ” off 2008’s New Surrender. Only two tracks in, and I already have this pegged as one of the standouts. There’s just something about that end of the world despair, which pours endless feeling into this track. The instrumentals are poignant enough on their own, but when Christian’s desperate cries begin to mix, I’m just a flood of emotions. As I’ll soon learn this is a feeling that carries through the full 40 minutes.
The band experiments in nearly every genre in the rock spectrum from alternative to a touch of hardcore in the track “Dissenter.” But don’t let that scare you away. Make no mistake about it—this album is Anberlin through and through.
I remember when I secured my first interview with Anberlin back in 2009, a friend and I were chatting about vocalist Stephen Christian, and the upcoming interview when she said after a brief pause, “Ask him how he’s so happy all the time.” Although I did end up asking that, the real answer was in watching their performance. At their next show, I paid careful attention to everyone on stage. Once again I saw how genuinely excited they were to be up there, playing to a crowd, and doing what they love. I’d venture to guess they’d be just as happy playing to a crowd of 5 as 500.
It’s always been that passion, energy, and genuine love for their craft and their fans, that has kept me by their side. There are tons of bands out there making great music, but I can count on one hand the number of bands I’ve come across that share a raw passion and sincerity for what they do. Anberlin is one of those bands. And although this may be the last new release I ever hear from them, it won’t be the last time Anberlin finds themselves on repeat in my home. As far as goodbye albums go, it’s never easy. But if Anberlin had to go out, I can’t imagine them doing it any other way.
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