6 September 2014

Anberlin - Lowborn

Christian Rock is something a little weird for me.  Not that religion and rock cannot co-exist, if Tom Ayra from Slayer can be a catholic and still sing "South Of Heaven", then anything is possible.  It is just the whole image of Christian Rock, it still feels like those 70's videos where the players are all wearing prom suits or dresses, the music is incredibly cheesy and the message is so tortured that it might as well be about aliens due to the rhyming couplets needed to make something fit with Jesus.  But over recent years, there has been a big expansion on Christian Rock (especially in America) and sometimes you have the odd band that flirt with the mainstream (such as P.O.D & Evanescene).  But there is still a whiff of mocking in some circles, which brings me to Anberlin.  I was asked to review another of their albums by someone (the email had a certain tone) and I will eventually get to that one in the next week or so; but this album was released this year so I have decided to look at this one first.  This is Anberlin's seventh and final album, so if you’re late to the party like me - this is it!  I will also do my usual brief introduction to the band in the other blog, but for now here is a look to what is the band's swansong.

Starting with keyboards and fast anticipation, this Euro beat opening before the guitars kick in is very effective in building up the energy so when the back drops into the chorus of "We Are The Destroyer".  Coming across with a lot of energy, it sort of reminds me of some of the songs from Story Of The Year.  There is a lot of aggression on show here and it does not seem to be very Christian at this moment, but musically it is a decent opening.  Next is "Armageddon" which comes across as a heavier version of 'Songs Of Faith & Devotion'-era Depeche Mode.  There is a lot of self pity going on here and with the band coming to an end, a lot of finality in the opening of this album.  "Stranger Ways" is the third track off the album and the barrel of laughs continues here, this one is one is about finding someone who the singer is a bit closer to discovering more about.  Now that you know that they are a Christian band this song can be interpreted in a couple of ways: Either it is about finding more out about God/Jesus/The Holy Ghost, or it is about learning more about a person of emotional attachment to the singer.  Whichever way the band intended for this song, it is a slower number to the opening two tracks.  Sort of sad, depressing and more lost in a few ways; it makes the music of Kurt Cobain sound like it was done for a children's TV show.

"Velvet Covered Brick" is the fourth song, coming across as a mixture of A.F.I., Aiden and (again) Story Of The Year.  There is an emotional element to this number and it does have the anthemic quality that will have their fans singing the song at the top of their lungs.  It is one of the better numbers on the album, but there is a shine on the album which feels a little too neat to be honest.  Next is "Atonement" which comes along and I am really confused as to what type of song it is trying to be.  After a few listens I think the best I can describe it as would be some sort of Coldplay, Aiden, Maroon 5, Synth-pop monster that is threatening to destroy the village called your mind.  It is a strange number and it is not improving the overall taste of the album for this listener.  "Bird Of Prey" is the sixth number on offer here, and I can honestly say that by this point the album needed something better than this electronic Creed pastiche; this track has no saving grace when a band sound like they are decent players.  

"Dissenter" is a more rocky number that at least tries to make them sound like angry men again; is a vast improvement on the last two numbers, but when they start to sound like an EDM/Darkwave Goth band with a shouty vocalist, sort of spoils the song a bit.  "Losing It All" is back in Coldplay territory again, this would not be a bad thing if they were Coldplay; but they are not.  What they have here is a chart friendly version of the heavier edge of rock and punk, it is played to the best of their abilities but this is just so dull once again.  "Hearing Voices" is the penultimate song of the album and by this point you have the band aiming for an epic finish; but they seem to have taken another stab at making an alternative Coldplay song, this time it has a feel as if they were aiming to do a version of "Paradise".  It is not awful, but it is also not a very good number.  Ending the album is "Harbinger"; this ends the album with the same level of passion and emotion that has been displayed on this album from the first note.  So when it finishes, there is only one reaction that I can have.

This album is over produced, under played and devoid of any message of peace, love and harmony.  I have more fun on a miserable Monday waiting for a bus home from Whitby when I had to change buses in Middlesbrough.  It is cold, calculated, distilled and above all, empty.  The band sounds as if they have checked out before the beginning of the album and phoned the whole thing in.  Apart from a couple of songs, it is one of those rare times when I am just shaking my head at the album I have listened to; bear in mind over the last few blogs I have listened to some really strange and ambiguous records, so when I say this is one of those albums that does nothing for me on many levels, you can rest assured that it is not a record for me.  Come back Future Of The Left, all is forgiven – the mark here is without irony.

0 out of ten - This is proof there is no god

Top track - Velvet Covered Brick

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

Here is the link to the Anberlin website (not too sure how long this will be here as the band split)

Here is a link to their Facebook in case the above link starts to fail

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for our Deezer users

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