And so it came to be! Anberlin dumped their record label Tooth and Nail, dumped their long-time producer Aaron Sprinkle and moved to Universal in order to improve the marketability of their music; Tooth and Nail couldn’t take them any further in the secular market place. ‘Never Take Friendship Personal’ remains the band’s best album to date (a largely undiscovered classic) and whilst follow up ‘Cities’ was superb, it failed to meet the high standard previously set. A muddy mix from Mike Shipley did not help the cause.
In my view the choice of Neal Avron as producer on ‘New Surrender’ over Aaron Sprinkle has been a poor one. The idea that he would bring something new to the table was ill advised and the differences in sound and performance are not particularly marked. Ex Acceptance guitarist Christian McAlhaney comes in on guitar to replace the outgoing Nathan Strayer who has now formed his own band The Brick Path.
‘New Surrender’ certainly has it’s highlights ‘The Resistance’ takes its lead from the debut album ‘Blueprints for The Black Market’, whilst ‘Disappear’ follows the synth rock found in parts on ‘Cities’. The awesome ‘Breaking’ and the six minute epic ‘Miserable Visu’ are classic Anberlin’. Where ‘New Surrender’ fails is through its overall lack of consistency. ‘Blame Me Blame Me’ is a strong song but a great one it is not and the inclusion of too many ballad-like compositions (‘Breathe’, ‘Burn Out Brighter’ and ‘Retrace) not only highlight the band’s-or rather Stephen Christian’s- current obsession with The Smiths but also the lack of venom across the album as a whole. Add to that the inclusion of the re-recorded ‘Feel Good Drag’ from ‘Never Take Friendship Personal’; a complete waste of time if you consider how good the original was, you get the feeling that either Anberlin had a limited amount of time as a result of pressure from the label to get an album out quickly, or that they’ve simply run out of ideas. Either way ‘New Surrender’ is a huge disappointment