By Aaron Collier
When a band has been together for 12 years making music and performing all over the known planet, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they call it quits.
Regardless, that doesn’t make it any easier for fans to cope with.
Alternative rock band Anberlin will disband and release their 7th and final album on the first label to sign them, Tooth and Nail Records, later this year.
It’s bittersweet for me to see them go. I was a little late to the party with these guys and picked up their first two records, 2003’s Blueprints for the Black Market and 2005’s Never Take Friendship Personal, after their initial releases. I found the band to be refreshing with Stephen Christian’s unique voice and the bands aggressive alt rock sound being something that I didn’t have in my music diet of metal and hardcore music.
They also gave me one of my favorite albums of all time with 2007’s release of Cities. One of the few albums to be left on my iPod, Cites is one of the most complete albums I have ever had the opportunity to listen to. From top to bottom the album is an amazing achievement and is still the defining record for the band in my opinion.
Though not bad releases, you could tell the band was in a transition period and trying to maintain some of the sound that got them noticed by the indie crowd while trying to find something new to infuse with it. All of the albums were released by a major label (Universal Republic) and you could tell they were trying a bit too hard to gain mainstream radio’s attention and the finished products just never came out quite right. They did bring back producer Aaron Sprinkle, who they collaborated with on the first three albums, for their latest release, Vital, and you could hear a little bit of the old Anberlin creeping back to life, but it just didn’t sound as energetic as the band’s past efforts with Sprinkle at the helm.
What may have been more impressive than their musical talents was the band’s heart for missionary work. The band’s Christian faith drove their missionary work and they were very vocal in calling other Christians to do the same. As a son of both a pastor and missionary, I respected the band immensely for speaking about the importance of mission work and challenging their fellow Christian’s to do so as well.
Even though the band never embraced the Christian music industry (and who could really blame them) there music touched a lot of people that would have never listened to them if the Contemporary Christian label was attached to them. They were very open about their Christian faith, but wanted nothing to do with CCM industry as a whole like most of the bands signed to Tooth and Nail. And much like the other Tooth and Nail bands, they decided to play not only Christian festivals, but mainstream ones as well which didn’t make them any friends in the CCM industry.
Bands like Anberlin helped me understand that positive music didn’t just exist in the CCM bubble nor did it have to be so boring either.
But that is a story for another time.
I know for some of you this is the first time you have even heard of the band. I hope this little eulogy will push you to go listen to the band and enjoy them for the first time.
For a long time fan like myself, I can only hope the band leaves us with something that we will listen to for years to come wishing for just one more album.