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on 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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on 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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on September 15, 2010
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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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2014
I've been a fan of Anberlin since Never Take Friendship Personal came out. I heard of them through a friend of a friend, and at the time I was going through an indie splurge at the time so I listened to them right away. The music was fantastic, and I quickly recommended them to other friends. Sure enough, the fire caught on quickly and most of my friends were fans.
But then Cities came out and totally wiped their previous albums clean. They're both good, and I have some friends who still prefer the second out of pure nostalgia, but Cities as a whole was far above their previous work.

So how could they possibly top that?

Answer: they can't. Once you go above and beyond something fans will always compare your next work to what they consider your best. It's just simple habit.
Now, Dark Is the Way is by no means bad; in fact, it's very good. It just doesn't capture the energy or detailed lyricism as their previous albums (namely Cities, of course).

I have to emphasize that this is still a very good album, and "Pray Tell" is one of my favorite Anberlin titles from all their works.
You get more varied sounds here, noted by Anberlin's curiosity in incorporating different tunes and styles in their forte. Some work, some don't (but are still good), and the end result is a mixture of the very good to the okay.
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on November 26, 2014
Good album. The first half of the album didn't generate as much interest for me as did the last half which I found to be more engaging and interesting. A nice bit of diversity and some flourish there, from the driving rocker "To the Wolves" to the acoustically oriented and affective "Down". Album ender "Depraved" is their most adventurous song, and their longest, but it pales in comparison to some of their other last tracks.

This is most definitely a "poppier" Anberlin. They're moving far away from their new wave punk influences (though they are still there in tracks like "We Owe This To Ourselves") and toward emotionally swooning ballads (like "Take Me As You Found Me"). Fans of their first three albums might have a hard time with this one. Me? I like the catchy nuances and production found here.
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on January 31, 2016
I love Anberlin with all my heart!

This album definitely isn't their best work but it's got some goodies in it that don't disappoint. To the Wolves, Down, to name a few

I saw them in concert 3 times and am so sad to hear that they disbanded...
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on September 25, 2010
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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on September 14, 2010
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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on September 21, 2010
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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on September 8, 2010
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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