21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Thank you Anberlin. And Godspeed.,
This review is from: Lowborn (Audio CD)
I was really confused when I first heard that "lowborn" would be Anberlin's final album. I started listening to Anberlin when "Never Take Friendship Personal" came out in 2005. I was captivated by their melodic and poetic "Cities" in 2007, which is arguably the bands mangum opus. Their recent album, "Vital," was well received by critics and fans. They seemed like they were at the top of their game. So why are they going out now? Sure, it's better to go out on top, but it's hard to imagine them putting out music that is less than exemplary or becoming forgotten by fans. After listening to "lowborn" ten times I realized that the answer to my question lay within the album itself.
On their acoustic driven "Atonement," Christian reflects on his music career, not quite coming to grips with saying goodbye. Christian sings: "I've seen faces I may never see again / I've been places I never could have dreamt / I've touched hands with those who touched me / seen the marks, the skeleton keys / I found peace in a foreign atonement / I lost myself in the tides of a moment." He is saying he found peace in his music career, but that it became his identity to the point where he lost who he was. He loves where he has been as a musician, but in his heart he knows that he needs to move on in order to recover his identity. When I looked this song up on Google I discovered an interview that Christian said "I know there are going to be a lot of questions as to why we decided to break up and I explain it all in the song `Atonement." In my mind, that confirmed my logic. Perhaps it is a little off, but I have a feeling it is pretty close.
"lowborn" is the most somber and experimental album we have heard from Anberlin. The sound is largely based in a New Wave/80's Synth style of music that works exceptionally well. Songs like "Armageddon" and "Birds of Prey" are the two prime examples of this new sound. "Armageddon" is driven by a mid-tempo chunky guitar riff and a drum machine with an atmospheric synth in the background. Around the halfway mark, it gets a little heavier building on the emotional and engaging atmosphere. "Birds of Prey" is driven by swirling synths and a thick baseline. Atmospheric electric guitars and occasional revurb in the vocals add to the pensiveness of the song.
Unlike most Anberlin albums, there are minimal aggressive guitar riffs on "lowborn". In fact there are only three songs that rely on heavy-hitting electric guitars: "We Are Destroyer," "Velvet Colored Brick," and "Dissenter". The first two, "We Are Destroyer" and "Velvet Colored Brick," are the emotional rockers what we have come to know and love about Anberlin. The former has a strong sense of urgency and proves to be an album highlight. It is a roller coaster of a song with tempo changes, dynamic drums, groovy bass lines, a catchy synth, and heavy guitar riffs. The black sheep of the album, "Dissenter," features a techno-rock sound backed with screaming vocals from Christian.
Like most Anberlin albums the poetic lyrics are relatively dark. For example on "Birds of Prey" Christian sings: "Memories circle like birds of prey / Waiting for the right mind to drive insane / Don't look back there's nothing to see / Regret is nothing more than a reoccurring disease." Many of the songs on "lowborn" reflect on self-destructive behavior. This is particularly evident in lyrics like: "If all we are is just what we want / We are the destroyers" from "We Are Destroyers. On the more hopeful "Losing It All" Christian sings about holding on to your significant other through difficult times: "It's not losing it all, if we have each other". "Atonement" and "Harbinger" are lyrically the two 'farewell' songs off the album. Christian is still not quite ready to say farewell on the bittersweet "Harbinger," but regardless of this he encourages listeners that "We'll live together, together, forever".
This may not be the album that fans have come to expect from Anberlin, but it is clearly the album that they wanted to make. "lowborn" is brooding with emotion that not only grabs your attention, but makes you think just a little bit differently. Oftentimes such creative music sacrifices melody for experimentation. That is not the case here, as "lowborn" has both. After a few listens you will surely be singing along with this pensive yet urgent album. While not quite the masterpiece of "Cities," this album surely holds a high place in a strong discography. Thank you Anberlin. And Godspeed. 4.5/5 Stars.
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Initial post: Jul 22, 2014 8:33:44 AM PDT
Couple of typos in the song names. "Losing All" should be "Losing It All" and "Hairbanger" should be "Harbinger." Loved reading your review though. You said a lot of what I thought but wasn't articulate enough to explain.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2014 8:51:12 AM PDT
Christopher Smith says:
Thanks tw4. Just fixed those mistakes. And I'm glad you like my review!
Posted on Oct 8, 2014 7:09:34 PM PDT
Some Guy says:
The lyrics from 'We Are Destroyer' are actually 'If all we are is just what we want / We are the destroyers' (taken from Stephen Christian's official tumblr for Anberlin lyrics).
Great review for a phenomenal album
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2014 3:19:56 AM PDT
Christopher Smith says:
Interesting. I'm not which I like more, what I heard (earn) or what is correct (want). Thank you for the correction and the compliment!
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2014 12:19:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2014 12:19:55 PM PDT
Some Guy says:
Some context from Stephen:
"'We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take charge and rule our lives from within. -E.N.'
We create our own destiny, I understand that some people are going to have much harder times than others, and that no two lives are alike. Yet, I have seen with my own eyes those who start with nothing and end up successful in their own rite. I see more and more people that feel entitled, they seemingly feel they do not have to work for what they desire; entertainment outlets show them success stories of people who became famous for absolutely no reason. They think the government or society owes them something for just existing. Its not true. You are owed nothing [but] a chance to work hard. With the same two hands that build empires, they can also destroy. Your character and reputation can be destroyed in seconds. Everything you worked so hard for can be leveled with poor decision making. If all you are is just what you want then you are the destroyer."
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