New Surrender

Written by: PP on 01/10/2008 13:13:54

"New Surrender" is Anberlin's fourth album, and the fourth time the band has improved significantly from their previous release. Their Hawthorne Heights-ish emo roots were largely shaken off already on their pop punkish previous album, "Cities", and now on their fourth record "New Surrender", they're so scarce that drawing parallels between emo and Anberlin requires one to be hellbent on the fact that a high-pitched singer equals emo in all cases. And we all know it doesn't.

Where the band was pop punk on "Cities", though large scale in any case, here Anberlin fits more underneath the melodic stadium rock genre. The songs are even bigger than on "Cities" and are full of larger than life melodic hooks sure to stick in your mind for weeks. You could also argue that on "Cities" the band was somewhat soft on their delivery, which has been switched out here in favour of a slightly angrier approach. Singer Stephen Christian's voice has more edge and roughness to it than ever before, which is all the more surprising considering the band is now on a major label. As Borat would say, "I like". You can hear his newfound aggressive tone on "The Resistance", where the chorus at first seems overly rough, but after repeat listens the rawness of his voice starts growing on you.

That's not to say the band have completely dropped off the soft approach, as "Breaking" is about as smooth as this band's ever gonna get. The chorus here is massive, like on so many other tracks on "New Surrender", perfect for the radio stations, but simultaneously down to earth enough to appeal to us non-mainstream music fans as well. "Blame Me, Blame Me" is pretty similar to the new Hawthorne Heights record, here I'm thinking "Rescue Me" and the like in that it's really poppy and straightforward, but it works well nonetheless. "Feel Good Drag" is the opposite with its heavy-ish guitars in the start and a bloody infectious chorus - among the best on the CD - where Stephen utilizes his angry vocals just like on the album opener. "Disappear" follows suit with stupendous hooks and anthemic choruses, making it my favorite on the record and the one track I'd use to introduce Anberlin to those who haven't heard of the band before. As such, it's fair to say that on "New Surrender", Anberlin has finally grown into a sound which suits them the best: anthemic rock full of melodic hooks and great choruses.

Sadly, not all of "New Surrender" is powerful melodic rock. What the ultra poppy ballad "Retrace" foreshadowed already on track four, the eighth track "Younglife" and all tracks that follow demonstrate in greater lengths. They all offer varying degrees of bland ballads that I find myself skipping every time I'm listening to the album. Someone close to the band should've pulled one of them to the side during the writing process and told them "Don't go there, here be critic-monsters", because these tracks destroy what started off as a great album reaching towards the really high ratings on this site. "Haight St." is okay, but it's like a lonely rowboat stuck in between massive tankers, tankers being generic acoustic/electric ballads, and as such it won't be noticed to the same effect as a track like "Feel Good Drag". It's such a shame, because the other two thirds of "New Surrender" offers some of the best anthemic rock you'll come to hear this year.

Download: Disappear, Feel Good Drag
For the fans of: Armor For Sleep, Hawthorne Heights
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.09.2008

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