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[Universal Republic]

To call this a masterpiece does not even justify Anberlin’s sixth studio album ‘Vital’.

It seems there is in fact much more to Anberlin than head-banging, mosh pit worthy breakdowns and rowdy screams based around the lyrics of heartbreak and growing up. The band make a stand for this with songs ‘Other Side’ and ‘Someone Anyone’. ‘Vital’ is more mature. It’s sophisticated. It channels their music into a different dimension. With frequent Innerpartysystem meet Nine Inch Nails synth effects pursuing ‘Vital’ down a path of more modern musical styles.

Vocalist Stephen Christian describes it as ‘youthful, energetic energy’ saying its their most aggressive record yet, which is agreeable when listening to the eleven track album. The piercing first song can safely represent ‘Vital’ as a journey of nostalgia and tension. Continuing this adventure with ‘Little Tyrants’, Stephen takes the opportunity to define his dynamic tone, from the fiercely monstrous aggression in the chorus straight through to the melodic, more delicate verses. Yet its not just vocal power, let’s not forget the overall great effort from the band who indulge in supreme guitar riffs and paramount beats in the flawless bridge.

The album is far from a bore, rattling the airwaves with ‘Intensions’. The exploding arrangement involves a crunchy guitar intro darting into an apocalyptic synth melody. Lyrics: ‘I want a love that I don’t deserve/I want the gold that I didn’t earn/I want a fire that will never burn’ are fundamentally catchy. What makes ‘Vital’ really glisten and flourish is their seventh track ‘Desires’. The veteran musicians craft this by exploring the unknown, experimenting with challenging rhythms and shaping a melody nothing less than extraordinary.

Only Anberlin could come up with this recipe. The essence of experts coming together to create something refreshing can be heard in ‘Type Three’. Unlike the rest of ‘Vital’ it’s almost a ballad, the instrumentation laying the foundations to a melody that tells a story. It’s evident they pushed the boundaries and every song emphasises their treasure like talent.

Anberlin maximise their music ability and as the album artwork suggests it does blow everything out of the water. Possibly saving the best until last is ‘God, Drugs & Sex’ captures the epic sound of Amberlin as a whole. This track also features guest vocals but this time from US singer songwriter Christine DuPree, who has previously appeared on the New Found Glory- ‘Coming Home’ album.

‘Vital’ is an essential album and will hopefully inspire change and further creativity in alternative music.

Words: Jenny Chu