Vital is the sixth studio album by American alternative rock band Anberlin which was released on October 16, 2012. In interviews, vocalist Stephen Christian has stated the album has a youthful, energetic energy and features new influences for the band. Upon release, the album was met with favorable reviews from critics and fans alike. The album was re-released in 2013 as Devotion, adding the deluxe tracks from various retailers, new remixes, and a full live album.
Vital garnered generally positive reception from music critics. The review aggregator website Metacritic gives a weighted average rating to an album based upon the selected independent mainstream reviews it utilizes, and the album has a Metascore of a 77 out of 100 based on five reviews.
At Alternative Press, Evan Lucy stating that "Vital [is] the most well-rounded Anberlin album to date." Matt Collar of AllMusic saying that "Ultimately, while Vital is Anberlin's most challenging album to date, as the title implies, it is perhaps the band's most rewarding album." At AbsolutePunk, Jack Appleby writing that "Calling Vital a career-defining record isn't a stretch in the least", which it "is the best record in Anberlin’s 10 year career, bar none." SowingSeason of Sputnikmusic remarking that "Even if it isn’t the best album they’ve ever made, Vital is perhaps the smartest", that contains some "otherworldly vocals." At Melodic, Johan Wippsson commenting that "the band has kept the energy that characterizes their sound and overall it’s an album that shows that the band is in the right direction."
At CCM Magazine, Andy Argyrakis saying that "Not only does the collection boast unbridled energy and spiritually-infused emotion, but it also serves as an official bookend to the group's crown jewel Cities" Stephen Luff of Cross Rhythms writing that "there are some truly outstanding tracks here", and that is why he states Anberlin "have delivered a gem of an album." At HM Magazine, Doug Van Pelt stating that "Vital has progressively shown the band churning out polished, melodic yet aggressive tunes that ever so slightly expand on the band's trademark sound", and that they "avoiding anything stale." Jeremy V. Jones of Christianity Today remarking that "Vital is enhanced by female backing vocals and, more significantly, washed with big, splashy synthesizer."
At Jesus Freak Hideout, Roger Gelwicks saying that "Standing on its own merit, Vital is a particularly durable alternative rock release with eleven tracks of excellence", which is why "Vital forcefully satisfies to the very last drop." John DiBiase of Jesus Freak Hideout writing that "Vital is definitely amid Anberlin's best records yet and [...] this is a truly refreshing album." At New Release Tuesday, Jonathan Francesco saying that "Vital hits all the right notes at just the right times and you're left with the closest thing to a flawless record you'll find this year. Vital is the definition of a band in their element." Carter Fraser of Indie Vision Music remarking that "Vital is as accomplished as anything Anberlin have released to date, simply in another direction."
At Artist Direct, Rick Florino writing that "Vital sees Anberlin's heart beating faster and stronger than ever. There's lots of blood, and that's a good thing…" Tyler Hess of Christian Music Zine stating that "Vital holds up well on it's [sic] own and shouldn’t be missed." At Louder Than The Music, Jono Davies saying that "So close, but not perfect yet." Jonathan Anderson of The New Review commenting that "Anberlin has successfully created an album that will immediately please fans of both their old and new work, and at the same time, Vital will attract brand new fans"; however, Anderson will not "go so far as to say that it blows the esteemed Cities out of the water, but [he] believe[s] Vital has taken a careful step into first place as the pinnacle release of their career."