The title of Anberlin’s newest release is a perfect description of their approach to making music. Released a year ago, “Devotion” is an extension of their previous record, “Vital.” That being said, don’t expect “Vital” with bigger muscles. The iTunes version of “Devotion” comes with a bonus disc of remixes and a live concert in Brooklyn. There are six new songs on the main disc, and every one is a modern treasure. The intensity in “Vital” is a prominent part of the album, and “Devotion” carries on this energy perfectly.
Established as an alternative rock band in 2002, Anberlin has released six albums in addition to “Devotion.” Their earliest have a strong rock vibe with few electronic sounds. However, since “New Surrender” was released in 2008, they have included more electronic elements. Despite this change, the band has stayed true to their roots, focusing on guitars and vocals.
Vocalist and main composer Stephen Christian is, in my opinion, one of the greatest music writers of today.
His lyrics are meaningful, describing common struggles in society, relationships, and faith. The power in his voice accentuates the lyrics and sends chills down my spine.
“Devotion” begins with one of the best songs to pump you up, “Self-Starter.” The rapid pace is a thrill ride for the senses that sets the stage for the rest of the album. I love the guitar solo in “Little Tyrants”; it is one of the coolest and most forceful sections of any song. “Someone Anyone” is a plea against meaningless wars and how they affect people. It stands out as an inspirational song.
The new tracks are incredible as well, and I find them the best part. “Unstable” makes you feel on edge with gradually increasing intensity on the drums and powerful lyrics. If you want a song about American greed, look no further than “Dead American.” “Safe Here” has an amazing beat, as well as lyrics that see into the struggle and neglect of the poor. “IJSW” (standing for “I Just Sang Whatever”) has an increasing electronic intensity that fits perfectly into the album’s structure. These songs truly showcase what a lyrical genius Christian is.
The other discs pale in comparison to the main one, but the Brooklyn concert is definitely a must-have for fans. It includes a version of the song “Down” from “Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place” that seems to be better structured and have better rhythm than the original, which was already incredible. Another great song in the concert was an all-piano version of “Dismantle.Repair.” from “Cities.” It makes me feel right there with him in his struggles.
“Devotion” is one of the most solid albums Anberlin has released. I would recommend it to anyone who likes alternative rock. This seems to be the start of something good for Anberlin, and I’m excited to see what is to come.
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