Listening to Anberlin’s latest and last endeavor, Lowborn, awakens the most bittersweet of feelings. Oftentimes, when bands elect to go their separate ways, they announce their termination after their full-length has been released: after it’s been marinating in listeners’ brans for a while. The news tends to come after their discography is complete. Fans can listen, front to back, and digest the departure slowly and in large quantities. Anberlin never got the memo, never read the unwritten rules, and decided to tear at the heartstrings of those who will miss them most.
Lowborn picks up in roughly the same terrain that Vital left off, though it's often more reserved. The controlled blips and electro ambience introduced in its predecessor give Lowborn a developed sound that befits a band in their prime. The album shows the group at their tightest and most definitive: with the perfect balance of massive swells and somber pulls spread across the tracks.
The record begins with “We Are Destroyers,” a track highlighted by rolling snares and heavy bass guitar that build to an expectedly punchy and soaring anthem of a chorus: a true Anberlin staple. Following in similar territory, “Velvet covered Brick” is a thundering cut that teeters on the edge of chaos.
On the quieter side, “Stranger Ways,” which could easily moonlight on the next Anchor and Braille album, contains beautifully delivered vocals amidst guitar echoes that haunt the sleepily drifting lullaby. It sets the pace for a large chunk of Lowborn, an album that comfortably rests in the mid tempo for duration of the time. Even the poppy and toe tapping “Losing It All,” with its steady drum beat and plunked keys accenting throughout, floats right down the line between calming and raucous.
It’s not all mellow though, “Dissenter” breaks the mold with vocalist Stephen Christian’s distorted belts roaring amidst relentless smacks of scratchy synth glitches laced over toxic club beats. The chaos softens momentarily, provided a reprieve during the bridge, before returning to the onslaught. The song stands out as a staple on the album and in the band’s career to date. It’s easily their heaviest and most experimental recording to date. As much as I love the quieter intricacies of Anberlin, it’s a shame we won’t get to see them truly tear down on any more songs like this before they step out of the game.
Listening to Lowborn is the epitome of a silver-lined storm cloud; it arguably contains some of the group’s strongest material, but it indisputably contains their last.
Lowborn is our right now. Grab it on Amazon, iTunes, or support your local indie store. There's still time to catch the band on tour and say farewell to arguably one of the greatest modern rock bands as they make their final bow.