Vital restores the ferocious yet intelligent edge that made Amberlin's early releases stand out from the ranks of typical Christian rock. Reunited with original producer Aaron Sprinkle, the quintet flexes real musical muscle as it explores themes both personal and political. The album transcends the confines of emo-pop with hard-punching tracks powered by the punishing drum work of Nathan Young. Stephen Christian continues to show an uncommon ability to combine raw force with emotional nuance as lead singer. Searing tunes like “Self-Starter” and polished ballads like “Innocence” are delivered with conviction. Vital’s sonic mix of brawny ‘90s-esque rock guitar, well-sculpted melodies, and atmospheric electronica frames lyrics that range from urgent anti-war pleas (“Someone Anyone”) to prayerful ruminations (“Other Side”) and angry breakup tirades (“Desires"). The showstopper here is the closing track, “God, Drugs & Sex,” a darkly tender dissection of a tormented relationship featuring the honeyed guest vocals of Christie DuPree. Anberlin here achieves a heroic sound that should impress old and new fans alike.