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Melodious lyrics, the greatest drum sound ever known, bass beats that no man could ever resist, guitars that can make any rock music go from a rock zero to a rock hero, and piano that just glues everything together. Sounds too good to be real? Well, it's not. It's all part of Anberlin's newest CD, "Dark is the Way, Light is a Place."

Anberlin is an alternative rock band from Winter Haven, Fla. The band -- lead vocalist Stephen Christian, bassist Deon Rexroat, lead guitarist Joseph Milligan, drummer Nathan Young and rhythm guitarist Christian McAlhaney -- formed in 2002 and hasn't looked back. It has released four other albums. The band members have toured with many other bands and traveled the globe, bringing their talent and passion for music with them.

NeXt recently spoke with lead vocalist Christian about the band's latest effort.

"We were all in different bands in high school," Christian said about the band's beginnings. "Anberlin is just a community of people who wanted to keep going with music. We started with a bunch of friends in high school, and three weeks after I graduated from college, we got our first contract with Tooth & Nail Records."

Brendan O'Brien produced Anberlin's latest album. He has produced albums for Pearl Jam, Train, Incubus, Bruce Springsteen and many more.

When asked how the band got O'Brien to produce this album, Christian said, "I don't know, and I still don't know to this day. We all had our top five producer list and Brendan wasn't on any of them because we never in a bazillion years thought we could get Grammy producer of the year."

O'Brien approached Anberlin and said he wanted to produce "Dark Is The Way, Light Is a Place."

"He's been a fan of Anberlin for a long time and he was just waiting for the right moment. He said, 'I want to do this record and I want to do the rest of your records from here on out.' So it's pretty incredible," Christian said.

About the new album, he says, "I think that we're all gonna be in moments of utter despair and discouragement when people are gonna pass the light. Even when we're gonna have moments in life that we feel like giving up or that all hope is lost, but that there is always gonna be a way out and that there is hope at the end of the day. I think that's why I titled the record that and what it represents. I feel like that's what the message in the songs are saying.

"I don't think it compares. I think this stands alone as the best record that we have ever done!"

The album is based on a poem by Dylan Thomas -- "Poem on his Birthday."

"I felt like he was the one that has read my thoughts," Christian said.

The album cover is a charcoal painting of a falling horse by young Australian artist Michael Zavros.

"There is some feeling you get by that. You're wondering what's gonna happen next. We felt like that summed up the album in a whole," Christian said. "... What's gonna happen next on the record. You're anxious the whole time. We wanted it to impact, and that's what it did."

***

This is one album that I will keep on my iPod. There is not a song you can skip when you listen to it. The album just keeps you wanting more and more, wishing it had 20 songs instead of 10. O'Brien did his best work yet on this album.

For those people who like to shuffle their iPod and change it daily, here are the songs I would recommend to keep. Christian says his favorite song on the album is "Impossible." I would agree, but I also like "To the Wolves," "Pray Tell," "The Art of War" and "We Owe This to Ourselves."

Anberlin created an amazing sound, and this is not something to blow off. This album is on my top five album list, and it's going to be pretty hard to knock off the chart. I would highly recommend this album for people who like music of all kinds or someone who just wants a great alternative rock album.

"Dark is the Way, Light is a Place" was released Sept. 7. You can buy the album in stores or download it off of iTunes or Amazon MP3. The band also released a vinyl copy of the record, which you can order from its Web site at www.shopbenchmark.com/anberlin. If you have a record player, I would recommend buying the vinyl copy because you get a digital download of the album with it. With each place of purchase on the digital album, they have released a different bonus song with the record.

Aaron Maser is a junior at Kenmore West High School.