Written by: PP on 08/12/2014 23:16:32

"Lowborn" is the seventh and final studio album by emotive rockers Anberlin, who never seemed to quite pick up in popularity despite writing mostly good alternative rock songs with a high dose of emotional charge present on the background. Two years ago they changed their sound radically for "Vital", bringing in electronic elements and generally aiming for a more spacious and ambitious soundscape. That came at the cost of catchy songs as the band were always at their best during high energy bursts of anthemic alternative rock like "Feel Good Drag". The slow pace and contemplative, echoing atmosphere continues throughout "Lowborn", where the band completes their transition away from emo rock into more thoughtful and lullaby style songwriting once and for all. They've called it quits before releasing the album but nonetheless completed one last tour to celebrate what the band had become over the years.

Now, there's no denying that Anberlin has never been bigger than they are as a result of "Vital" and "Lowborn", thanks to a softer and more soothing style of songwriting that simply appeals for a broader audience than the angst-driven emocore they were known for on earlier albums. But to equate that to better songs isn't necessarily right. Here, "Lowborn" has quite a few candidates of great songs like the opener "We Are Destroyer", which showcases the inflated and echoing ambience the band are going for throughout this record. There are still some aggressive tracks like "Dissenter", which is one of the heaviest tracks the band has written complete with screaming, even if the instrumentation feels like it belongs to that "Blood Rave Techno (Bloodbath Mix)" scene from the Blade soundtrack with its electronic effects. But here, too, the song oddly breaks into a tranquil and softly sung section that feels a little too cut-and-paste for my liking.

A much better song then is "Losing It All" with its infectiously catchy, albeit still dreamy and spacious chorus melody. While lacking the energy of their earlier material, it's still a highlight track in their newer sound, and brings in a nice classical piano touch on the background as well. "Hearing Voiecs" is probably the most symbolic of the new Anberlin with its grandeur soundscape that feels designed for arenas rather than smaller clubs. Again, the chorus is great and lands the track home nicely. "Harbringer" closes the album on a sadder note with a melancholic melody transitioning into soft, effect-laden vocals that feel inspired by Coldplay, U2 and 30 Seconds To Mars alike.

Overall, "Lowborn" is a love it or hate it kind of an album. The biggest songs often have a great chorus but spend ages building up with nothingsaying verse parts. If you loved the band's knack for high-energy onslaughts of emo rock, there's not much to be found here. If you're able to accept the band having evolved past those types of songs, then yes, these songs, while being more experimental, are still mostly of high standard. It screams through this review which style I prefer, but objectively speaking, "Lowborn" is still a solid album, although not near their best material on "Cities" and "New Surrender".

Download: We Are Destroyer, Losing It All, Hearing Voices, Stranger Ways
For the fans of: Bayside, Armor For Sleep, 30 Seconds To Mars, U2
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.07.2014
Tooth & Nail Records

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