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JFH Music Review


Anberlin, 'Convinced - EP'
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Anberlin
Convinced - EP



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock / Electronic / Indie Pop
Album length: 5 tracks: 21 minutes, 29 seconds
Street Date: June 30, 2023


READER RATING:   


It has been twenty years since Anberlin broke onto the scene with Blueprints for the Black Market, and their newest release Convinced shows the band is not ready to fade into the obscurity of being a “legacy band”. Over the years, they have fought the great enemy of any band with any longevity, stagnation, whether it be the breakout success of Cities or the subsequent changing up of the sound post Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place with the thematic and stylistic adjustments on Vital (or for the more astute Anberlin fan, Devotion). These gentle corrections and/or experimentations have successfully kept the scene vets just fresh enough and just ingrained enough in the “Anberlin sound” to keep their fans wanting more. After last year's unexpected EP, Silverline, dropped, it found the band leaning into a darker and dirtier sound, of which there have only been the occasional foray into in their earlier work, which was a welcome departure from their softer and more polished 2014 swansong, Lowborn. Convinced continues down this more chaotic path by blending the band's ever present rock, post-hardcore, and 80’s electronics/synths into a palette pleasing combination that whets our appetites for what turns out to be more to come.

That this is but an EP is about the biggest critique that I can produce, and even with that, I am hesitant to even bring that up with how strong of a group of songs Anberlin has put together here. ‘Lacerate’, the album opener (as well as first single), sets the overall tone of the rest of the album with its chaotically infectious verses and a dark powerful chorus. The darker and grittier tone from the previous EP takes no time in showing itself along with broken and bitter lyrics that tell the tale of broken or strained love: “I just want my heart to break, away from your memory, Lacerate.” ‘Decoder’ follows with a building energy that recalls the enthusiasm found in previous album cycles, like ‘Godspeed’ or ‘Dead American’, although the energy is channeled less in a traditional sense. However, they let the synths and percussion drive the pulsating discord to a near fevered pitch. ‘Banshee’ slows the tempo considerably and could validly be called the calm before the storm (in this case, the next song ‘Animals’). Its smoothed-out vibe allows the listener a chance to catch his or her breath along with poignant lyrics; “You could stop right there. You could turn around, not all is lost, when the lost want to be found.”

‘Animals’ with its quiet drumming and eerie aggressive guitar lines in its opening minutes, finds its footing quickly. This experimental and monstrous rocker offers Anberlin at its angriest and most ruthless with biting shouts of “Are we ruthless creatures after all? Animals, I want tear you apart, I want to eat you alive.” The aggressive nature instrumentally reminds most recently of ‘Two Graves’ from their previous EP, as well as the title track from Never Take Friendship Personal, and has the hallmarks of a live concert fan favorite. The closer, ‘Nothing More’, is the perfect juxtaposition to bookend the extended play. Whereas the album opener bitterly addresses broken love, the closer celebrates in the beauty of love. It is like the break in the storm that shines the ray of hope that there is something worth fighting for on the other side of this season in life. When Stephen croons the refrain “There’s nothing more to say, there’s nothing more to do to make me love you.”, it paints the beautiful picture of one who is completely satisfied in the love of another while illustrating our sometimes-feeble attempts at conveying the way we feel to our significant other. “I feel close to God when you lay your hands on me, pray for nothing more than for you to believe… there’s nothing more to make me love you... are you convinced?” As ‘Nothing More’ ushers the EP to a close with a saxophone interlude, uplifting guitars and airy keyboards that give way to the sound of waves licking a shore, there is a sense of renewal or starting over. It demands that we cut away, or lacerate, ties to unhealthy relationships, addictions, or thoughts and let ourselves heal, providing a thematic resolution to the EP.

Over the years, Anberlin has been one of the mainstays in the Christian alternative scene by consistently putting out strong, innovative material. Even with their venture into the mainstream due to the success of their Cities album, they have always maintained a strong and loyal following. Convinced finds the band delivering yet again with a quality selection of songs. Admittedly, there is nothing here that possesses the wow factor like ‘Fin’ or ‘Paperthin Hymn’, but Convinced makes up for that by being consistently strong throughout. It is great to see a band that is two decades into their careers refusing to just make carbon copies of previous material (here is looking at you, Nickelback) and are innovative without being completely reckless with their approach to each album cycle. It shows a band comfortable enough in their own skin to not only talk about negative things but to also find hope and renewal in the process. This is an admirable thing in and of itself as we all face tough seasons, and the sign of maturity is growing and healing past those situations because “Not all is lost, when the lost want to be found.”

- Review date: 7/5/23, written by Matt Baldwin of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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. Record Label: None
. Album length: 5 tracks: 21 minutes, 29 seconds
. Street Date: June 30, 2023
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: AnberlinMerch.com (Vinyl)
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Lacerate (3:30)
  2. Decoder (2:35)
  3. Bansheee (3:55)
  4. Animals (3:46)
  5. Nothing More (7:46)

 

 



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