Sometime in June I started adding new releases to my queue just because. And clearly there wasn’t a lot coming through in June since I added only this and Neil Young’s unhinged polemic against Monsanto. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Breaking Benjamin song, and if I have, I didn’t know it. But I’d heard of them. I think I thought they were some kind of indie band, but quickly found out that, no, they’re metal. And then very quickly after that realized they were a very formulaic new (but not nü) metal band that Millenials liked.
And that was basically my take on this album for the next three months or so. But in the last few weeks, as I’ve approached this review, the formula of the band has become more like a warm, comfortable blanket that makes everything all right. I mean, this band is not breaking any new ground, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of metal right now that is simultaneously progressive and offering meaty, finger-horn-inspiring riffs, and so I’ve got to make do with one set of bands that’s in the business of offering extreme new sounds and another set of bands that’s fairly predictable but offering songs that get stuck in my head and I can sing along to.
The formulaicity of the band is present even within the album, as it gets a bit same-y, and if I’m to hear a song out of context of its surroundings, Ima have a real hard time naming it if it’s not “Failure” or “Breaking The Silence,” which are the album’s real standouts, the former containing a unique melody in the chorus. On “Breaking The Silence” and “Bury Me Alive,” the Cookie Monster vocals are used to great effect. This is a band that is mostly traditionally sung but adding the gruff barking vocals to the breakdowns is, well, it’s basically how they should always be used. So call these formulaic songwriters seers, I guess, I don’t know…see? I keep finding more and more to like about them.
The trend continues: as I write this I’m promoting tracks left and right. First Breaking Benjamin was an eye roll and a scoff. Then they were a guilty pleasure. But now I’m legitimately a Breaking Benjamin fan, albeit one that still listens with a critical ear. Still, a couple of beers and I can basically tell that part of my brain to shut up and throw up some completely unironic rock horns in the bathroom mirror.
Mix: “Breaking The Silence”
Really Like: “Failure,” “Close To Heaven,” “Bury Me Alive,” “The Great Divide,” “Ashes Of Eden,” “Defeated,” “Dawn”
Like: “Angels Fall,” “Hollow,” “Never Again”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Dark – it’s too cutesy how they start with Dark and end with Dawn given the album’s title, but whatever
- Failure – one of the album’s best songs, and it’s first single, and you know I love when bands know what their best stuff.
- Angels Fall –
- Breaking The Silence – the barking, gruff vocals work to really good effect. either the best or second best track on the album and also a single, but this is the best song to mix.
- Hollow –
- Close To Heaven – when he sings that he’s unforgiven, it’s awfully reminiscent of Metallica’s “Doug, The Unforgiven”
- Bury Me Alive – barked vocals work well here, too.
- Never Again –
- The Great Divide –
- Ashes Of Eden – almost knocked down to meh. almost too slow and boring.
- Defeated –
- Dawn –