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About the Artist
This control of dynamics has embodied Anberlin's music since their 2003 debut Blueprints For The Black Market which instantly caught on with fans of emotional music who didn't want to be fed the same musical clichés--oh, and touring alongside acts like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance to support that album didn't hurt either. After playing literally hundreds of shows and growing as both musicians and people the band released their sophomore album Never Take Friendship Personal in 2005. Markedly more mature both musically and lyrically, that album established Anberlin as more than another underground sensation and showed that there was no limit to what the band could achieve. This same trend was evident with last year's mainstream breakthrough Cities, which showed the band progressing even more and expanding their musical vision exponentially.
All this brings us to New Surrender. Although the album retains the Anberlin sound that fans have grown to love, in many ways it's also an album of firsts that marks the next chapter in the band's illustrious history. For example, after working for years exclusively with longtime producer/friend Aaron Sprinkle this time around the band decided to enlist legendary producer Neal Avron (Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, New Found Glory) to capture their sound. Additionally, after selling 435,000 albums on the well-respected indie label Tooth And Nail, with New Surrender the band decided it was finally time for them to step up to a major label--and although they had been courted by various majors for years, the band decided to go with Universal Republic. "At Tooth And Nail there was a glass ceiling and there was no way to get our music out to all the people we wanted to reach," Christian explains when asked about the band's decision to change labels. "To us, Universal Republic represents a sense of stability in this turbulent
era for music: The staff is going nowhere, the label is here to stay and they have proven time and time again that they can take bands to the people--and that is where we belong... among the people."
"The whole album is conceptualized around the theme of a new surrender in the sense that everyone in their lives has something they know they have to give up," responds Christian when asked about the title of the band's latest opus. "There's something that's holding each of us back from who we could become, so I think each song kind of tackles that theme of surrendering parts of life whether it's a person or a vice." In order to capture this idea, the band--which also features guitarist Joseph Milligan, bassist Deon Rexroat, drummer Nathan Young and new addition and former Acceptance guitarist Christian McAlhaney--spent three months in the studio with Avron carefully crafting their most fully realized effort to date.
In fact, from the equally cathartic and melodic track "Breaking" to the soon-to-be summertime anthem "Haight Street" and acoustic ballad "Younglife," New Surrender is the most varied album of the band's career--something they credit largely to the new addition of McAlhaney, who has solidified the band's lineup and become an integral part of the songwriting process. "I think it just felt right," McAlhaney responds when asked when it was like to be thrown into a songwriting team of Christian and Milligan, who have been writing together for nearly thirteen years. "There was no trial period, we just went for it," he continues. "It definitely helped having someone else to bounce ideas off of," Milligan concurs, adding that he's confident that New Surrender is undoubtedly the band's strongest album to date.
Although both of the band's guitarists have completely different styles, they perfectly complement each both rhythmically and melodically on New Surrender--and this sonic interaction has added a new level of depth to Anberlin's already powerful sound. Additionally, this renewed sense of enthusiasm doesn't just apply to the guitars but also carries over to Stephen's vocals, which manage to achieve almost religious levels of grandeur on the falsetto-fueled "Retrace" or soaring, operatic ballad "Breathe." "Neal [Avron] did not let me get away with anything," Christian explains, noting that every vocal part on the album is sung individually without relying on studio trickery such as auto-tuning. While this unorthodox approach required additional work on the band's part, the result is a vocal performance that shows Christian extending his already impressive range and solidifying him as one of the strongest frontman in the genre.
New Surrender is also the first Anberlin album to work the band's well-documented humanitarian efforts into the lyrics, which have included going to Kenya to teach about AIDS prevention or traveling to Calcutta, India, to educate the masses about the danger of human trafficking. "I live in Los Angeles now, so
I wrote a song [Disappear] about homelessness because that's something that's so prevalent in my life," Christian elaborates. "There's also about another song [Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights)] about living unselfishly and the lyrics say, "'I want to live and die for someone else / the more I live, I see this life's not about me,'" he adds. "I'm really excited that we've got to the level lyrically where our fans don't listen to Anberlin for just the basic, `Oh girl, I want to hold your hand," he says, noting that the supportive nature of Anberlin's fans gave him artistic license to challenge himself and take his own writing to the next level this time around.
However, the band are quick to stress the fact that New Surrender is ultimately an album that's made to be listened to instead of analyzed--and songs like "Feel Good Drag" are so infectious that it's likely that listeners will be too wrapped up in the majesty of the music to waste their time worrying about how to pigeonhole Anberlin's sound. "In some ways I don't think we have that much emotional attachment to music nowadays," Christian says, noting that music seems to be such a ubiquitous part of our daily lives that it's easy to forget the passion that initially drew most of us to it the first place. "I want people to feel like they belong to this record; it's their record and I want them to treat it like that," he explains. "Hopefully New Surrender doesn't just have one single that everyone attaches himself or herself to," he summarizes, "I really want all twelve songs to be a part of their lives."
Top Customer Reviews
Tracks Worth Noting:
1. "The Resistance"
5. "Feel Good Drag"
11. "Soft Skeletons"
12. "Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)"
The final track mirrors their previous closing efforts ("Dance, Dance, Christa Paffgen" and "(*Fin)"). It's a beautifully structured song, once again running well over 6 minutes and closing the album in style. You don't need a fine tooth comb to break this one down. Anberlin is a band that thrives in every sense of the word Rock, whether it be hard hitting riffs, amplified ballads or unplugged melodies. Their ability to speed up and slow down the album track to track is unparalleled and done with such ease and flow.
'New Surrender' may get scrutinized as it draws comparisons to 'Cities', but any way you look at it you're paying $10 or less for 12 well written, unique and diverse songs. This band never leads you to a dead end. I'm glad I found them.
New Surrender initially doesn't seem to reflect the "Anberlin" sound fans have come to know throughout their past three albums. However, that doesn't mean the quality of this music is anything less than what they would consider their best. Every song on this album has a beautiful story to tell. The opener, "The Resistance," is one of the more solid rock songs found on the album and serves as a really great introduction to the album. "Breaking," formally known as "Bittersweet Memory," follows. Our first glance of this song was through the acoustic videos and the digital download package that was available at Warped Tour. It was promising as an acoustic alone, and in this electric format, it doesn't fail to deliver. "Blame Me Blame Me" is a very up-beat tune reminiscent of "A Day Late." The chorus sings, "Blame me, blame me, blame me for mistakes you make but you can't own. Hate me, hate me, hate me for every honest word that you postpone. Leave me out of this; lights on sinking ships are gleaming, gleaming, gleaming for mistakes you've made but you can't own." This is definitely a highlight of the album and is sure to stand out among fans. After "Blame Me Blame Me," the album takes a more mellow turn for "Retrace" - a sweet love song which displays Stephen's clearly matured vocals and, lyrically, his ability to create amazing imagery.Read more ›
Realistically, I would have given this 4.5/5 stars, but given all of the awful music on the radio these days that passes off as rock music, I bumped them up to 5/5. For me the album was well worth the money.
This is overall not the effort I would expect from the band that brought us Never Take Friendship Personal and Cities. The music itself isn't all that different, even with the addition of Acceptance's guitarist Christian McAlhaney. In general, I'd say this album is a testimony to the importance of good vocal melodies; Stephen Christian's singing is still amazing as always, but the melodies themselves are sadly unimpressive.
While the re-recorded version of "The Feel Good Drag" is still enjoyable, it is not by any means superior to the version recorded on Never Take Friendship Personal. It appears to be a transparent attempt by the band to ground the album with at least one extremely well-written song. In my opinion, it simply is an blatant indication of how Anberlin's song-writing abilities from the past two albums overshadow the effort of New Surrender.
The biggest problem with the album is how the choruses don't sound nearly as uplifting or catchy as they were on previous albums. The first track is a weak opening for the album, in spite of it's heavier sound, because of this.
Another disappointment is the band's failure to recapture the same magic heard in songs like "Inevitable" (from Cities) and "(the symphony of) blase" (from NTFP). The two ballads on New Surrender, "Retrace" and "Breathe," fall short of expectations.
The last song, "Miserabile Visu (Ex Malo Bonum)" is the epic song a lot of Anberlin fans are looking for. Sadly, I don't feel there is anything epic about it other than the length.
Where the album shines: Breaking, The Feel Good Drag, Younglife, Haight Street (my favorite song on the album), and Breathe.
That said, the album itself is worth a buy for long-time Anberlin fans, but give it time to grow on you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this album for Feel Good Drag. Whole album is alright though. Still prefer track 5 over the others.Published 3 months ago by Jason
This has the same kind of energy as Cities, which means a lot. But it doesn't have as many songs that stand out on their own as Cities did. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Zinnia
If your going to buy New Surrender, might as well spend the few extra dollars and get the Deluxe Edition. The extra few songs are amazing.Published 20 months ago by Spencer
Moving on from their magnum opus "Cities," Anberlin attempts to carry the momentum further with "New Surrender. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Zechariah Hosken
Anberlin has a great kick to their sound. Great blend of rhythm, guitar solos, dynamic vocals and redemptive lyrics. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jonathan
A solid outing. It contains the requisite energetic neo-punk songs like the angtsy opener "The Resistance" and minor radio hit "Feel Good Drag", updated '80s... Read morePublished 22 months ago by THowerton
Anberlin has done it yet again. Another amazing album from them. I honestly don't think there is an album of theirs that I don't like.Published on May 3, 2014 by Audrey Timms