Monday, 6 December 2010

Online Music Journalism: Anberlin - We Owe Ourselves single review

Written for Live-Music-Scene October 2010

Anberlin - We Owe Ourselves

By Robyn Simmons

Last time they counted, Anerblin had sold over 700,000 albums. Their first single, ‘Feel Good Drag’ reached the top of the Alternative Song chart two years ago, and the year before that they managed to bag a major record deal with Universal. So you’d be forgiven for expecting something special from this alt-Christian rock affair. But to anyone listening to ‘We Owe Ourselves This’, those feats are likely to go undetected.
A mean-sounding, hard-hitting riff launches itself onto the listener from the start as lead guitarist Joseph Milligan shows off his talent. Whilst there is no doubt about his remarkable ability on the axe, it does seem a little contrived. Drummer Nathan Young gives Milligan a run for his money, as his thumping patterns matching Milligan’s fret-shredding every step of the way. Frankly, it all seems a little unnecessary. Consequently, the vocals, for all their mediocrity, are overwhelmed and ultimately drowned out by this ungainly lurch towards metal.

Luckily, there is a crack in this wall of sound in the form of a melodic bridge which slows the track down before picking up where it left off. Whilst this is a welcome deviation from the repetitive pounding that dominates throughout, originality is scarce. For many, ‘We Owe Ourselves This’ will be a flashback to teenage years when loud, thrashy songs punctuated with tuneful harmonies were considered the height of innovation, burdened with creativity and meaning that no one else understood.

Rather than mellowing with age after eight years in the business, Anberlin seem to be going backwards by consciously venturing to the dark side. This latest single demonstrates their new direction perfectly and we can expect more of this new sound on their fifth album ‘Dark is the Way, Light is a Place’. Whether this holds up to their earlier material is entirely down to taste and it takes courage for any band to experiment with new styles. There will always be music fans with a thirst for all things cast in shadow, and there will always be adolescents trying to prove their individuality. For them, ‘We Owe Ourselves This’ provides an outlet to which Anberlin’s religious association lends a romantically spiritual edge. For everyone else who has grown out of attempts at flouting conformity, it’s likely to sound tedious and immature: adults be warned.

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