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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, but by no means perfect
Anberlin have been slowly coming to the boil for quite some time now. Starting with the epic masterpiece that was 'Cities', and the power-pop sound of the summer 'New Surrender', they now return with their latest and 5th studio album.

The band have always managed to somehow reinvent their style from album to album, yet never lose their defining sound, and this...
Published on September 7, 2010 by jtalep

versus
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kind of a disappointment...
I first heard "Paperthin Hymn" about five or six years ago, and I was absolutely in love with it by the end of the second chorus. After that, I delved into more of Anberlin's music and I was not disappointed. "Blueprints" was fairly solid, NTFP was overall fantastic, with a few blah songs but definitely others that were just amazing ("Paperthin Hymn" and "Dance, Dance...
Published on September 15, 2010 by Jenn


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, but by no means perfect, September 7, 2010
Anberlin have been slowly coming to the boil for quite some time now. Starting with the epic masterpiece that was 'Cities', and the power-pop sound of the summer 'New Surrender', they now return with their latest and 5th studio album.

The band have always managed to somehow reinvent their style from album to album, yet never lose their defining sound, and this album is no exception. Tracks such as 'Pray Tell' and 'Art Of War' display a new side to the band, un-chartered territory with S.American inspired drumming beats and a subtle but existent homage to the 80's bands that influenced them in days gone by (The Cure).

For the first time, vocalist Stephen Christian leads every song in the mix of things; his voice powering through like we've never heard before with epic results. With Grammy award winning producer Brendan O'Brien on board, the production and mastering precision on this album is second to none, yet unlike their previous album, it never feels over produced. To get the full picture of just have immense the sound on this album is, you have to whack on a pair of decent headphones, and suddenly it takes you onto another level. In terms of production and mixing quality, this is definitely the best we've heard from them so far.

Whilst a fresh and different approach to things, old fans of the band can rest assured that this is unquestionably an Anberlin album, with songs such as 'To The Wolves' and 'You Belong Here' harking back to the bands early material.

Why this can't be rated 5 stars is simple...lyrics. They are the one thing that have always stayed consistent, in that they are usually absolutely faultless. Unfortunately, the same depth seems to have gone from the most part. Some of their previous songs have an almost poetic quality (Inevitable, Dance Dance Christa Päffgen), but on this album we find snippets of potential, that just seem to get repeated, or slightly change around. It seems lyric writer Stephen Christian opened himself up so much on Cities, that he felt overly exposed to ever dig that deep again. New Surrender lacked passion, and that trend in terms of lyrical content continues on this album. The only song that hints at the depth we've seen in the past is 'Down', which is ruined by the usage of 'honey, honey' part way through.

Whilst in days gone by, the band has focused on experimenting with guitar sounds and other instruments, this time around it was the vocals that got the majority of the work. Whilst Stephen Christian remains one of the strongest singers in the genre, you certainly feel in some areas that the guitars in particular fall short in terms of excitement and variation due to this focus on vocal tone and texture.

Whilst not quite on a par with 'Cities', this album does display a more solid consistency, with the album flowing nicely from start to finish. It's a mature record, and one that is set to stand the test of time. This album sees the band showing the dark side they displayed on 'Cities', and seemingly lost on 'New Surrender'.

Stand out songs are 'Pray Tell', 'Art Of War', and 'Take Me (As You Found Me)'. However, one of the best songs on the album comes strangely in the form of a b-side, 'All We Have', which is classic Anberlin in every single way. This is possibly the only song to come out of the record that can stand up to the bands heavyweight songs such as 'Dismantle Repair' and 'Paperthin Hymn' in terms of the stronger focus on guitars rather than vocals. In comparison, 'All We Have' is to this album, as 'The Haunting' was to 'Cities. It will have fans questioning why it didn't make the final cut, when it is one of the strongest candidates to be a hit single.

Regardless of this omission, this album is a band having fun and trying new things, and is definitely worth a listen if you need a break from the norm.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anberlin...or not Anberlin?, September 7, 2010
This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
Anberlin have been slowly coming to the boil for quite some time now. Starting with the epic masterpiece that was 'Cities', and the power-pop sound of the summer 'New Surrender', they now return with their latest and 5th studio album.

The band have always managed to somehow reinvent their style from album to album, yet never lose their defining sound, and this album is no exception. Tracks such as 'Pray Tell' and 'Art Of War' display a new side to the band, un-chartered territory with S.American inspired drumming beats and a subtle but existent homage to the 80's bands that influenced them in days gone by (The Cure).

For the first time, vocalist Stephen Christian leads every song in the mix of things; his voice powering through like we've never heard before with epic results. With Grammy award winning producer Brendan O'Brien on board, the production and mastering precision on this album is second to none, yet unlike their previous album, it never feels over produced. To get the full picture of just have immense the sound on this album is, you have to whack on a pair of decent headphones, and suddenly it takes you onto another level. In terms of production and mixing quality, this is definitely the best we've heard from them so far.

Whilst a fresh and different approach to things, old fans of the band can rest assured that this is unquestionably an Anberlin album, with songs such as 'To The Wolves' and 'You Belong Here' harking back to the bands early material.

Why this can't be rated 5 stars is simple...lyrics. They are the one thing that have always stayed consistent, in that they are usually absolutely faultless. Unfortunately, the same depth seems to have gone from the most part. Some of their previous songs have an almost poetic quality (Inevitable, Dance Dance Christa Päffgen), but on this album we find snippets of potential, that just seem to get repeated, or slightly change around. It seems lyric writer Stephen Christian opened himself up so much on Cities, that he felt overly exposed to ever dig that deep again. New Surrender lacked passion, and that trend in terms of lyrical content continues on this album. The only song that hints at the depth we've seen in the past is 'Down', which is ruined by the usage of 'honey, honey' part way through.

Whilst in days gone by, the band has focused on experimenting with guitar sounds and other instruments, this time around it was the vocals that got the majority of the work. Whilst Stephen Christian remains one of the strongest singers in the genre, you certainly feel in some areas that the guitars in particular fall short in terms of excitement and variation due to this focus on vocal tone and texture.

Whilst not quite on a par with 'Cities', this album does display a more solid consistency, with the album flowing nicely from start to finish. It's a mature record, and one that is set to stand the test of time. This album sees the band showing the dark side they displayed on 'Cities', and seemingly lost on 'New Surrender'.

Stand out songs are 'Pray Tell', 'Art Of War', and 'Take Me (As You Found Me)'. However, one of the best songs on the album comes strangely in the form of a b-side, 'All We Have', which is classic Anberlin in every single way. This is possibly the only song to come out of the record that can stand up to the bands heavyweight songs such as 'Dismantle Repair' and 'Paperthin Hymn' in terms of the stronger focus on guitars rather than vocals. In comparison, 'All We Have' is to this album, as 'The Haunting' was to 'Cities. It will have fans questioning why it didn't make the final cut, when it is one of the strongest candidates to be a hit single.

Regardless of this omission, this album is a band having fun and trying new things, and is definitely worth a listen if you need a break from the norm.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kind of a disappointment..., September 15, 2010
By 
Jenn (Denver, CO) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
I first heard "Paperthin Hymn" about five or six years ago, and I was absolutely in love with it by the end of the second chorus. After that, I delved into more of Anberlin's music and I was not disappointed. "Blueprints" was fairly solid, NTFP was overall fantastic, with a few blah songs but definitely others that were just amazing ("Paperthin Hymn" and "Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen" most notably blew my mind) and Cities? I still consider that one of the best albums I own- the lyrics are breathtaking and Stephen Christian's voice is phenomenal. That being said, I'm a huge Anberlin fan- I consider them my favorite band. But I must say, I'm becoming more and more disenchanted with each new release.

It's not that New Surrender and Dark is the Way, Light is a Place are horrible albums. Actually, if they were by any other band, I'd be really impressed. But I'm starting to notice a lack of the beautiful, poetic lyrics that originally drew me to this band in the first place. But even New Surrender had some great songs for me to love (at the top of the pile is "Soft Skeletons"), while I'm feeling really nothing for this new one.

The only song I really honestly like much is "Down" (which seems to be a highlight on the album for others as well). I really just can't get into them at all. The fact that there are lyrics such as "Because of you, I'll never write a love song" blows my mind- this seems to me to be the fodder of typically pop-punk/emo bands, not Anberlin! The ending track seems rather blah to me- nothing compared to the breathtaking finales Anberlin has delivered with the last three albums.

If you don't listen to the lyrics, you'll notice though that musically, this album is an improvement over New Surrender. And of course, Stephen Christian continues to blow me away with his amazing voice- I just wish I could feel something for what he's saying.

I'm not sure what to say to tie this up. Overall, I would consider this a great CD if it wasn't Anberlin, but I know they can do better, so I just consider it okay. I can guarantee you that this CD will NOT stay in my constant rotation, and more than likely, none of the songs but "Down" will make it to my playlists.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing for me..., September 25, 2010
This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
Seems to me I became an Anberlin fan like everyone else- heard "Paperthin Hymn" on the Radio. And as much as i love Anberlin- One of my Top 3 bands with HURT- this album is not doing it for me. I don't know why. The lyrics are great, his voice is his classic voice, everything seems right. But its missing something. Its not i don't like the slow songs. I cherish "The Unwinding Cable Car" and ""(The Symphony of) Blasé" as some of my favorite songs. I just feel like those songs, despite their heavy and saddening lyrics, still made me smile. All their songs from Cities, Blueprints, and Never Take Friendship personal had a different sound. Upbeat, for want of a better word. Like, think "Glass To the Arson" "A Day Late" "The Runaways" "Time & Confusion". Powerful emotional lyrics that make you want to cry combined with music that you can't help but dance to. This album is lacking that for me. "Impossible" is good, and I'm sure a couple songs will grow on me. But it won't be the same Anberlin experience. But luckily I got all their other albums, which is enough (=

"(The Symphony Of) Blasé"
"Naive Orleans"
"Glass to The Arson"
"Paperthin Hymn"
"Time & Confusion"
"The Runaways"
"There Is No Mathematics To Love & Loss"
"Hello Alone"
"Reclusion"
"Soft Skeletons"
"Disappear"
"*Fin"

These songs ^ are classics, that I will share (And do share!) them with everyone i talk music with. And I don't think i could honestly recommend this album to anyone.

(I do recommend listening to HURT. Check out "Rapture", "House Carpenter" "Fighting Tao" "Well" "Assurance" Love them! LOL)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars U2 is the Way, Coldplay is the Place, September 14, 2010
This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
On a good note: the strong hooks that were dominant on Anberlin's 2007 masterpiece "Cities" are back for the most part on their new album. 2008's "New Surrender" sounded good while it was on, and the lyrics were certainly top-notch. But the songs were not as strong as the material on "Cities" and thus it sounded like an album full of b-sides from "Cities."

2010's "Dark is the Way Light is a Place" is more radio-friendly than anything this band has done before. At ten tracks, it is also their shortest album. The songs are as sweet as sugar, with big sweeping pop hooks and melodic sing-along verses. The problem is that the lyrics have been stripped down to basic sentiments about love, relationships, and soul-searching. So what we have is ten songs that sound as if they were recorded by a more lightweight band who was trying to sound like Anberlin. The production is flawless, and there is not a single bad song on the entire album. But the sound is so similar to modern day Coldplay mixed with some late 1980's U2, that one could literally sing the lyrics to those bands' past hits to some of these songs. I thought at the time "Cities" was released, that it would never be topped, and that just might be the case. But Anberlin has a world of talent, and if their next album is a bit riskier and edgier, they might match or exceed all they have previously done. But these ten songs are polished and spit-shined for the masses, and while some may cry "sellout," others might just wonder why they felt the need to so closely emulate other bands.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed, September 21, 2010
By 
Michael Dudley (Rockville, MD United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
A few years ago a friend threw the Anberlin album "New Surrender" into his car CD player and I immediately fell in love with this band's music. The very first song of the album grabbed me immediately and I was blown away by every song on the album. I made one song my ringtone and bought two copies of my own, one digital to listen at home and the other a cd to leave in my car as the only cd I'd have in there.

Later, I needed more Anberlin, so I got my hands on the album "Cities" and though I didn't enjoy it quite as much as New Surrender, I still enjoyed it very much. Anberlin had become one of my favorite bands.

I preordered "Dark Is the Way: Light Is a Place". I've listened to the album 3 times and find it hard to even attempt to listen to again. The intelligent lyrics I'd heard on the other two albums were gone. I'm not sure if there is a single song where Anberlin doesn't repeat the same line of lyrics over and over repeatedly. The first song doesn't grab me and I'm utterly disappointed with this album's lyrics and the catchiness of the songs. There are maybe one or 2 songs I enjoy listening to again, but still have no lyrical excitement to them. It's almost as if they were hurrying the album to release and said to themselves, "I have an idea... why don't we just repeat the same line over and over for a verse or chorus in every song." Maybe they have a different writer for their music, but whatever the problem is, needs to be fixed.

I won't buy another one of their albums without first hearing the music from it again. Hopefully they can get back to what I'd consider greatness, again someday.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great is the Goal; Good is the Result, September 8, 2010
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This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
It could be argued that Anberlin are the kings of the post-punk alternative rock genre, and "Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place" is certainly a catchy result of that reign. However, in an absurdly impressive library, "Dark Is The Way" is somewhat of a mixed entry.

"New Surrender," Anberlin's previous offering, had the potential to become the savior of pop-rock radio with a fantastic selection of heavy, introspective anthems and softer, more accessible pop offerings. Despite this, fans felt alienated, especially following their gritty magnum opus "Cities," in which lead singer Stephen Christian was willing to delve into the minds of drug addicts, murderers, thieves, the vengeful, and the suicidal. "Dark is the Way" attempts to be a return to form without plumbing those depths with such brutal imagery. Likewise, the musical aspect of the album is significantly less aggressive than that of earlier outings.

That's not to say that Anberlin does not infuse a few fist-pumpers into the mix. "We Owe This To Ourselves" and "To The Wolves" both convey heavy lyrical material over stadium-sized guitar and bass riffs. "Closer" would feel right at home somewhere on "Cities," and "Depraved" follows Anberlin's tradition of closing an album with an epic song fluctuating between light and heavy (unfortunately, this is Anberlin's weakest closing track to date). That said, nothing here on "Dark Is The Way" really ever reaches the intensity of virtually any number from "Cities." Instead, the listener is hit with a musical style more reminiscent of U2's "No Line on the Horizon." Fortunately for Anberlin, the album manages to get more right than wrong in imitating U2. Indeed, the Edge himself might enjoy Anberlin's newest, even if he would likely feel a bit plagiarized. "Take Me (As You Found Me)," "Pray Tell," and "Art of War" apply this more relaxed sound to great effect without losing the Anberlin vibe. No track on the album falls flat enough to warrant a complaint, with the exception of "Down," which attempts to showcase a more vulnerable Christian on the microphone. This approach backfires when some vocals slide ever-so-slightly off-key; this is really inexcusable for such a talented vocalist as Christian.

The critical reviews rave of a more mature, darker Anberlin, but "Dark Is The Way" really feels like a radio-ready, reduced-calorie "Cities" with a few of its own tricks. However, the whole is just as focused as anything Anberlin has previously released, and the band's reluctance to reach the questionably dark overtones of "Cities" is somewhat relieving. On its own, "Dark Is The Way" stands on its own two feet quite well. The love and care put into the new sound is apparent, even if everything seems a little more layered and little less aggressive than past releases. Those disenfranchised by "New Surrender" may want to take a listen before committing to this one, even if it is one of the year's most focused alternative rock offerings. Anberlin's new sound promises much but delivers slightly below the height it so ambitiously aims. With time, however, it is likely the band will call this sound home and one day craft something truly classic.

Ten-point Scale: 7.0 out of 10
Genre: Alternative Rock
Objectionable Content: Minimal
Recommended: Moderately
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its Anberlin so its good; however, not one of their better Albums, January 12, 2011
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Not one of the my favorite albums. While I do enjoy many of the tracks on this disc, and the tracks are very well put together and show a high degree of polish, the tracks on this album does not even come close to meeting the extremely high bar Anberlin set on Never Take Friendship Personal, Cities, and the first half of New Surrender. I do like the strong effort the band put into the album, and maybe this is a new direction the band is heading in; but I do hope they can come back to some of the creativity and musicality that made the previous afore mentioned albums so great. I do find We Owe This to Ourselves and Impossible very catchy and good listens, but they lack the drive of previous blockbuster songs like "Godspeed" and "Feel Good Drag" and other softer tracks didn't register with me like previous heartfelt tracks such as "The unwinding cable car" and "Paperthin Hymn", and lastly the extended final track that has been a staple of all but the first Anberlin album just doesn't come close to ridiculously high level achieved previously, especially the last two connected tracks on Cities.

If your not a fan of Anberlin yet, or if you are judging the band based on this album, I highly recommend listening to the album Cities by this group first, to hear this band in its finest hour. If you already fan though, this is still a worthwhile album, and is a good album, but not the same level as previous efforts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars initially catchy, but then becomes repetative, October 9, 2010
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This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
I have enjoyed anberlin for 5 years. I have all of their albums. This album is initially catchy and it differentiates itself from the other ones, however I cannot stand it when bands continually repeat choruses or phrases throughout the entire song! I can even deal with one or two that are this way, but this album goes to far. I would still buy it, but I would not pay full price.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rough, Dark, Intense and Heartfelt, November 4, 2010
By 
Grant Marshall (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place (Audio CD)
There are parts of this record that blew me away. Great hooks, good riffs, haunting melodies and lyrics that convey a deep sense of loss or life gone wrong. I kept trying to figure out what had happened in the lives of the band members for them to write such dark lyrics. I gather someone in the band went through a relationship breakdown?

I like that the record is a bit less polished and more aggressive than their last efforts. Its a lot less poppy. I love the delays and spacey sounding guitar effects (well I assume they are guitars, they could be synths for all I know). The album seems to be trying to convey a mood or emotion rather than trying to create another insipid pop song.There is a lot of reverb and delay type effects going, and the sound is truly multi-layered - especially on the song "You Belong" - sounds like theres about 6 or 7 lead singers singing the intro part.

I wonder if they will succeed in recreating this kind of sound live without the help of vocal processors and the like. As a musician this album appeals to me because I love songs with tonnes of guitar fill ins all over the place. If you're looking for another Cities or New Surrender look elsewhere, this is a new direction for the band. It's not another pop record, its quite original for Anberlin and I for one like it. That doesn't mean the songs aren't memorable. They certainly stuck with me for days after listening to the album.
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Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place
Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place by Anberlin (Audio CD - 2010)
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