Reviewed by Mark Plummer
For a lot of people, this is an end of an era – seven albums later and it’s reached the swan song. Orson Welles said: “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story”. Anberlin seem to have taken this into account and are going out with a bang, rather than a whimper.
From the first few gleaming tracks, there is an air of experimentation. This is no pis aller, it’s a well calculated release that knows where it’s going, and how to get there. Half-done tracks don’t exist on Lowborn, it’s professional to the last note. The industrial rich opening of We Are Destroyer is followed up in Armageddon. The aforementioned rich and deep where the bass is concerned; whilst the drums and bellowing guitars combine with the bass to add a dark and gripping opening. As Armageddon starts up, there’s a warmth. It’s still dark and rich, but the synths added to the background allow this track to open itself up, drawing the listener in. Both of these tracks are Nine Inch Nails esque, save for the more conservative vocals, much cleaner than the angst driven attire that Trent Reznor possesses.
Whilst We Are Destroyer may be physically powerful, there’s an inherent beauty in the following tracks: the previously mentioned Armageddon and also Stranger Ways. Here, a more simplistic approach is taken. Reliance is on the effects gifted to each instrument, adding atmosphere and imagination; the synths are artful, furthering the expression already felt in the final product. Stranger Ways in particular appears to be a song that goes from concept to concept; building on itself with each passing minute before making way for the uptempo Velvet Covered Brick.
As Lowborn makes it’s way through the difficult midsection, it becomes clear that the musical variety is balanced and allows this album to breathe expression. What’s more, any lingering questions about the bands decision to give their tale a final chapter, can be found in the lyrics. This is an album that leaps forward with strength as it progresses; whether it be Birds of Prey, Dissenter or Hearing Voices, there’s a satisfaction that this final album has been done right. Each track is like oxygen rich blood, supplying soul and life where creativity is concerned.
This is a band who have captured the hearts of many over their illustrious career, yes it’s sad to see them depart in the guise of Anberlin; however, let’s not discount the firework show they’ve put on, and the manner in which it’s been achieved. They juxtapose varying elements for maximum effect and it comes off beautifully.