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Music Review: Anberlin – Dark is the Way, Light is a Place

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The latest release from Anberlin, Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, released this week on Universal Republic Records, features an eclectic mix of songs that incorporate the band’s musical journey from hard-edged rock band to alternative rock hit-makers. The songs range from aggressive alt-rock to acoustic ballads; an occasional flirtation with a down and dirty industrial beat is thrown in for good measure.

The cuts on Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, though musically diverse, create a rich tapestry that seems to be lacking in this day of “singles-oriented albums;” it is an album that should be played from start to finish. I honestly have no higher praise than that: put it on, hit play and let it go—my only complaint is that it’s not on vinyl, because it deserves to be.

Produced at Blackbird Studios in Nashville Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is Anberlin’s fifth studio album and their first collaboration with Grammy Award – winning producer Brendan O’Brien (Papa Roach, Stone Temple Pilots, Bruce Springsteen). O’Brien’s power-pop influence can most notably be felt on the album’s first single, “Impossible,” which is still climbing the charts.

anberlinThe album is very much Anberlin’s Joshua Tree, with lyrics pulled from lead singer Stephen Christian’s life experiences and observations, as well as from life on the road. It gathers inspiration from subjects as diverse as the Civil Rights Movement to the personal pain and disillusionment of love and friendship lost. The tracks are a true reflection of the album’s title, delving into places dark, but with an aura of enlightenment that reconciles subject with lesson learned.

Dark is the Way, Light is a Place opens with “We Owe This to Ourselves,” a song inspired by the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also the second single and video released from the album. It is a song sure to please early Anberlin indie-rock fans as it sees a return to Anberlin’s hard-driving, riff heavy days. That same pace and impact can also be heard on “To the Wolves.”

“The Art of War” balances between goth and pop, featuring opening cathedral synths and a tone of defiance; it is carried along on a percussion-heavy, industrial-like beat. “Pray Tell” also veers away from the typical Anberlin sound, with an earthy, R&B-influenced hand-clap that expands the band out further in their musical reach.

Songs “Impossible.” “Take Me (As You Found Me)” and “You Belong to Me” are sure to be added to radio’s heavy-rotation playlist and promise to bring Anberlin the mainstream attention and recognition that they have long deserved. The acoustic “Down” is another song that guarantees heavy downloads. Beautifully written and arranged, it’s the kind of song you find concert-goers singing along with.

“Closer” and “Depraved” are reflective of the last Anberlin album, New Surrender, with infectious hooks and chorus build-ups that have become a classic trademark of the band’s style since it shifted into a more alternative rock sound.

As a whole, Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is an album that reflects well the growth and evolution of Anberlin over the years. Musically mature and socially conscious it is a milestone in the career of a band poised to become a major musical force.

Stephen Christian: Vocals
Joseph Milligan: Lead guitar
Deon Rexroat: Bass
Christian McAlhaney: Rhythm guitar
Nathan Young: Drums

Producer: Brendan O’Brien
Label: Universal Republic Records

Dark Is The Way, Light is a Place
Track Listing:
We Owe This To Ourselves
Take Me As You Found Me
You Belong Here
Pray Tell
The Art Of War
To The Wolves

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