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on October 16, 2012
I've been listening to Anberlin since the ripe old age of 13 after hearing "Paperthin Hymn". I fell in love immediately with the rest of Never Take Friendship Personal and when Cities came out a few years later, oh, it was love at first listen. Of course, nothing could've ever lived up to Cities, but I did find a few songs I thoroughly enjoyed on New Surrender. With Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, not a single song stood out to me. "Down" earned a spot in my playlist rotation for a few months and was eventually deleted. Musically an improvement over its predecessors, it felt lacking in the incredibly deep and poetic lyrics that drew me to Anberlin. For any other band, it would've been a fine album. I would've been impressed. THIS is Anberlin, though. I was disappointed because I knew that they could do better- they already HAD done better! It was the most disappointing sort of regression from a band I consider one of my favorites, despite not really even listening to the sort of music they make anymore.

This all being said, I expected to be disappointed by any new releases, believing the band to be on a downward spiral. I had no clue that Vital was coming out before going to iTunes to check out another new release. I couldn't really just scroll down without checking it out so I did... And I was not disappointed. Actually, I was the opposite of disappointed- I was thrilled.

If you're believing this to be Cities 2.0, you're wrong. Cities was a breathtaking album that I still consider to be in my top 5 of all-time, but this is something completely different- and breathtaking in it's own right. Vital seems to take the best elements from each of Anberlin's last releases (some of the guitarwork from Blueprints, the lyrical genius from NTFP, the darkness of Cities, the positivity of New Surrender and the musicality of Dark is the Way) and throw those things into an album that's really not at all like anything they've ever done.

Did I say career high? This, coming from such a passionate fan of Cities? Yes. Whether it will replace Cities as a personal favorite is still TBD, but in terms of the output, it is fantastic. I have no qualms with Vital- not one.

Oh wait, I take that back- one qualm. "Unstable" not technically on the album? IT'S A CRIME- I would go as far as to say this is probably one of the best tracks Anberlin has ever done. If you buy the album on here, make sure to hurry on over to iTunes and purchase the bonus track "Unstable" ASAP.

However, I'm not going to hold that against Anberlin. Not with a record that is this outstanding (but really, make sure to get that track).

Stand-out tracks: While you can argue that really all of these are quite excellent (especially compared to the last album), "Self-Starter" was a fantastic way to start off the album, much in the same way that "Godspeed" and "Disappear" drew you into "Cities" and "New Surrender" respectively. "Someone Anyone" is ridiculously catchy and makes good use of the electronic elements so prominent in this album while simultaneously being an excellent rock track (guitars are EXCELLENT) AND being lyrically one of the best tracks on the album. "Orpheum" was absolutely fabulous- I loved the piano and Stephen Christian's voice is particularly striking. And while "God, Drugs and Sex" didn't stack up to the epic finales of albums past (though really, longtime Anberlin fans, is any album closer going to ever stack up to (*Fin) or "Dance Dance Christa Paffgen? Didn't think so), it is still a lovely track and Stephen's voice is just incredible. Compared to the rest of the album, it seems really stripped down and instead of being out of place, it just works.
-But really, "Unstable" is the standout track, despite being the bonus track that you can't even get on Amazon. Just wow.

This album is the reason I was so disappointed with Dark is the Way, Light is a Place- because this is exactly what they're capable of. This is not the Anberlin I stumbled upon at age 13 and I'm so glad it's not. They have grown, changed and matured and released this incredible piece of art that is truly a career landmark for them.

So thanks, Anberlin- the money I spent on this album, the time I spent listening to it (and will spend listening to it as it stays on constant rotation through my music library), the money I will inevitably spend when you come back around on tour... All SO worth it.
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on October 16, 2012
Anberlin has gone through a number of transitions in their sound over the years, and some have been very well-received by fans (such as the brooding emo-rock in "Cities"), and others have been unduly criticized (such as the wildly varied modern rock album "New Surrender"). But while each album has given us a different flavor of Anberlin's excellent melodic alternative rock, Stephen Christian's vocal work and lyricism has been it's sole defining characteristic. With "Vital," it's clear that the band wanted to make every element of the album their own - and they succeeded on every level.

Anberlin has never suffered for lack of great opening tracks, and "Self-Starter" is no exception. Exceptionally tasteful guitar riffs and synths pile up underneath a soaring vocal performance and relentless beat to kick off everything with an authoritative bang. The energy does not let up in "Little Tyrants," which, along with later track "Desires," makes for some of the heaviest material Anberlin has ever created - the former song even includes an impressively structured guitar solo. Some of the darker guitar screeches and booming bass sounds from their album "Cities" make their way into the synth-laden "Other Side" and the fast-paced "Orpheus." In an oddly refreshing twist, the band drops all physical instrumentation to back the ballad "Innocent" with nothing but electronic beats, synths, pads, and leads. Single "Someone Anyone" is as toe-tapping as they come, with a melody that can and will stick in your head. "Type Three" brings acoustic guitars into the mix, whereas "Intentions" brings an infectious synth-rock sound that would make the 80s blush with jealousy. Ultimately, Anberlin ends with the dark and plodding "God, Drugs, and Sex" in trademark epic fashion.

Lyrically, Anberlin trims the fat of previous works and keeps things palatable. The almost-universally-acclaimed "Cities" is bloated with overly pretentious lyrics about suicide, homicide, drugs, sex, divorce, and deception; and fortunately, Anberlin's "less is more" approach to Vital is relieving. They're thoughtful; they're often deep and quite mature. However, they fit seamlessly into Christian's fantastic melodic voice work, which is great - because the music is what makes this album so incredible.

What about the inevitable missteps in this album? There are none. At all. There are oceans of varying textures and nuances and subtleties from song to song, yet they all fit into an amazingly cohesive whole. This is the career-defining work for Anberlin, and firmly establishes them as a rock tour-de-force that should no longer be thought of as "that emo art-rock punkish thingy from Tooth and Nail" and should be thought of as what they are: exceptionally creative musicians making supremely well-crafted music.

Ten-Point Scale: 10.0 out of 10
Genre: Post-Hardcore Rock / Electronica
Objectionable Content: Minimal
Recommended: Most Highly
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on December 10, 2012
See, I put a question mark after my review title, indicating an opinion. So chill out bishes.

For real though, this album is great. I have no snarky comments to add.
They have really developed their sound. If you haven't heard "Never Take Friendship Personal" yet, go give that a listen first. You may like that album more. But to an Anberlin fan, this album is definitely worth the purchase. Music is after all the ultimate expression of self, and everyone likes different things. But for my money, it doesn't get any better than this. Though, I pretty much just like anything that ISN'T Creed (I've already discussed that though).

So, give this a listen! If you like it, support the band! Buy it. Do it!
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on November 25, 2012
Been a fan of Anberlin for a long time, saw them live once before as well (they were awesome)

This is a really solid album, only 2 songs on the album that I skip, rest of it I play straight through. The best track in my opinion is "Modern Age."

I can't really imagine anyone who likes Anberlin's other stuff not loving this album.
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on April 7, 2013
So many good cuts on this CD. "God, Sex and Drugs" has a mythical and mesmerizing background, which is very haunting and stay's with you. "Desires" packs a good punch. "Innocent", cases Steven's supeb vocals, and is lesser intense than the rest of the CD, got the feeling it has to do with death. In all, a great showcase of true Anberlin colors, but their getting even better with age and mileage. The CD does not do justice to seeing them perfom live, but lyrics are well written and you'll be singing along.
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on October 24, 2012
This is fantastic record. This band evolves with each record, but they keep their style with each one. This is loaded with a slew of catchy, well-written songs. "Self-Starter" is a new instant hit, "Intentions" is a great club song, and "Modern Age" is an anthem-like song. But overall, this album is a solid from start to finish. The only other records this year I've heard that have this level of quality are "havoc and bright lights - alanis morissette", "southern air - yellow card", "a joyful noise - gossip" and "crave - for king and country."
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on October 16, 2012
I have been a fan of Anberlin since the beginning, and I would be lying if I said I was never disappointed. The last two albums just did not appeal to me- so much so that I said I would not buy their music anymore. Well, I'm happy to eat my crow. Many fans have been hoping for a CD like Never Take Friendship Personal and Cities for a while now, myself included. Is this CD Cities 2? No...it is better. It is arguably the best and most complete Anberlin CD to date. There is not a bad song on the album. My only complaint is that there are only 11 songs. I read somewhere the band had a ton of songs for this album and narrowed it down to these 11. I would gladly have paid twice the price for more songs. Heck, make it a 2 disc set! Anberlin fans, rock fans, and music fans in general: Buy this album now. It is, after all, Vital.
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on April 29, 2013
Have been a Anberlin fan for a couple years now and I have to admit this is Not one of my Fav's. I am definitely Not saying it's Bad... far from that, but I have heard better from them....that's all. IF you are a Fan of Anberlin...then definitely add this to your collection, but If you are a first time buyer of them....go back a few years and check out their older stuff....much better in my opinion.
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on April 11, 2014
Great album. Great band. Great times. this really is one of the most underrated bands out there. They consistently make great albums. Vital is no exception...but it is exceptional! (See what I did there?) A great mixture of ROCKING songs and thoughtful ballads. They really take you on a journey through great music. Put it on and TURN IT UP!
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on November 9, 2012
If you are a fan of Anberlin this album will not disappoint you, they still have thier aggresive edge without being too hardcore. I have every album and was more than happy to add this one to my collection. If you don't know Anberlin this is a great album to get to know them, the only problem is once you have this album you will want to go back and by all thier preivous albums too.
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