Anberlin – Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place (Review)

Universal Republic Records

Released September 7 2010

Reviewed By Tyler Hess

I need to get this out before I get any more depressed.  I don’t think I’ve listened to an album that is any more of a downer than this in over half a decade.  After listening only a few times I felt like I had been living in Seattle for a dozen years and that it was only winter the whole time with rainclouds dominating my vision.  Don’t misunderstand me, Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place is a classic Anberlin album with all the fixins to whet your appetite, but if I listen to it much more without a break I might slip into a coma with little hope of recovery.

The fifth studio album from Anberlin starts off innocent enough with a fighting spirit of perseverance in “We Owe This To Ourselves”.  The alt-pop rockers continue on with the first single, “Impossible” as Stephen Christian’s falsetto vocals speaks of a relationship where not everyone is on the same page to the backdrop of the ever driving guitar work.  By the time “Take Me As You Found Me” comes along I realize that I’ve been taken back to middle school in the mid-90′s to a time when someone like Bryan Adams was able to tear it up on MTV and VH1…or even Rod Stewart…or Sting…or that one time they all got together in the name of a completely forgettable movie (The Three Musketeers) to sing a completely unforgettable tune (All For One).  Middle school was super lame, but the music still holds to today.

Moving on from middle school to the middle of the album, “Closer” poses the question of if keeping a safe distance is the right way to go about things and keeps the theme of proximity letting someone know that “You Belong To Me”.  They turn course (in idea, not musically, which has been consistent throughout the album) in wondering in “Pray Tell” if they’re being lied to or if secrets are being kept.  That’s all before possibly the most depressing song on the album with “The Art of War” as Stephen Christian proclaims that “there are songs I’ll never write/because of you walking out of my life/there are words that don’t belong/because of you I’ll never write another love song”.

As the record winds down we see Anberlin at their angstiest with “To The Wolves” written to a betrayer, saying “Who needs enemies when we’ve got friends like you?”  “Down” seems to show a hint of regret before “Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place” finishes things up with a little bit of the final epic that Anberlin has been closing things out with lately declaring “you’re not a slave, so get off your knees”.

I need to get out in the Sun and get away from this beautifully depressing album that will surely contend for album of the year and be in all kinds of top ten lists in a few months.  I’m sure I’ll listen again sometime.  Like tomorrow…and the next day…and the day after that.  It’s worth it.

Grade: 5/5


  1. We Owe This To Ourselves
  2. Impossible
  3. Take Me As You Found Me
  4. Closer
  5. You Belong To Me
  6. Pray Tell
  7. The Art of War
  8. To The Wolves
  9. Down
  10. Depraved

About Tyler Hess

Tyler Hess has been running Christian Music Zine since he created the site in 2008. His favorite bands are Relient K, Bleach, Emery, House of Heroes, The Classic Crime, Children 18:3 and Anberlin. Twitter = @tylerscotthess More Posts

14 Comments to “Anberlin – Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place (Review)”

  1. After reading that first paragraph I thought that this review was going to bash this album. I was wrong

  2. I’ve had a love-hate with Anberlin since Blueprints. I’m just not usually in the mood for their angst, and I just didn’t get into the last one musically. Will still check this out but not expecting it to be my kind of thing.

  3. So I am beyond psyched about this album and I really enjoyed reading your review, but two questions:
    1. I know Anberlin isn’t really a band that lifts spirits, but what exactly is so depressing about the album?
    and 2. What’s the spiritual content like? Stephen Christian said in an interview with Indie Vision that this record (for him) was the “most spiritual”. He also hinted that “Pray Tell” is about nothing being hidden from God, but it sounds like most of the album is relationship based.

  4. Also what did you think was the best song on the album? I’ve been especially excited about “Closer” since hearing the snippets.
    (sorry for all the questions, just trying to get as much info as I can) :)

  5. so freakin excited for this cd!!!!!

  6. Lucas…it is mostly the tone of the music that makes it so depressing…it’s the mood it creates…

    as far as spirituality in the lyrics…i wasn’t given a lyrics sheet so I wasn’t able to do some deep analytics on it or anything…but I didn’t specifically hear anything that would have been…uh…CCM-like…it is pretty easy to get what you want out of the lyrics at least just by what i could make out of them by listening…I’m sure he’ll have some deeper meaning to songs that he’ll explain in interviews that won’t be apparent just by listening to or reading the lyrics so we’ll just have to wait a couple weeks for the barrage of interviews i’m sure Stephen will be doing

    my personal favorites are probably Take Me As You Found Me and To The Wolves and I’m actually a fan of the single, Impossible, though I guess it’s got mixed reviews from fans…those are the three that stick in my head the most at the moment. that could change with time :)

  7. Thanks Tyler! And I’m glad someone enjoys Take Me As You Found Me. From the snippet, it didn’t sound too impressive, but I suppose I just need to hear the whole song.
    Enjoyed your review! :)

  8. snippets are worthless…and everyone has different tastes in the type of song they like…i’m guessing that tons of people will love depraved simply because it is kind of an “epic” song…tho others will hate it because it doesnt compare to *fin or whatever

  9. Great review! Now that I think about it, I agree, the album is a bit depressing, lol! It really is a good album though, not epic like Cities, but a million times better than New Surrender.

  10. Here’s my track by track rating after a few listens on their myspace.:
    1. We Owe This To Ourselves – 9/10
    A strong opener considering it sounds a lot like the Anberlin we know, though still doesn’t beat Godspeed for me.
    2. Impossible – 8/10
    Love the guitar work in this song, but the song as the first single the song comes up a little flat. Still a good song nonetheless.
    3. Take Me (As You Found Me) – 7.5/10
    I’m sure this one will grow on me and it is, indeed, a beautiful song. It just feels like it goes on for a while.
    4. Closer – 10/10
    I haven’t heard an Anberlin song this ear-catching since A Whisper and a Clamor. Everything, from the haunting verses to the powerful chorus, is epic. Favorite song on the album (so far). (I also love it’s placement between the two lighter songs)
    5. You Belong Here – 9/10
    This song some how manages to be light yet epic at the same time. It’s just…wonderful!
    6. Pray Tell – 10/10
    The drums in the are amazing and the chorus absolutely soars. One of the best songs they’ve written in a while.
    7. Art of War – 9.5/10
    LOVE the experimentation on this one. It’s a little long, but it’s worth it. The guitar hook in the bridge is breathtaking.
    8. To The Wolves – 9/10
    Dark and a lot more raw than the rest of the album. The chorus, oddly enough, reminded me of something off S&W’s Teenage Fantasy. Anyway, one of the catchiest songs on the album.
    9. Down – 9/10
    Absolutely beautiful. My only frustration is that the guitar sounds so similar to The Unwinding Cable Car, but it’s good enough to stand alone.
    10. Depraved – ??/10
    I’m waiting for the actual album to arrive. Gives me even more to look forward to. :)

    All in all, the album doesn’t look like it’s going to beat Cities, but I haven’t even heard the grand closer so I don’t quite know yet.

  11. I just caved and listened to Depraved. (rhyme not completely intended) All I can say is wow. Album of the year contender for sure.

  12. Brilliant album! My review will be up on soon enough (Y) <3

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