Album Review: Breaking Benjamin – Dark Before Dawn

Alright everyone, I feel renewed and relaxed after taking a month hiatus. Having this constant craving to share what music I’ve found over the time, I decided to restart my blog again. Leaving off where I started, the main theme my blog this year so far is as follows:

2015 is one awesome year in music.

I cannot believe how many amazing albums I’ve found in the last six months. With a majority of them actually being released in 2015, I know I have my work cut out for me next January when I announce the nominees for the Second Annual Keno Awards. But I digress, there is one album in particular that was released last week that I cannot stop playing. Being one of the more popular rock bands to be featured on this blog, Breaking Benjamin has been on repeat in my head for the whole week.

Breaking Benjamin is a steadily rising rock band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The band is fronted by vocalist/guitarist Benjamin Burnley, a man with an interesting background. What makes this popular rock band stand out from the rest? Well, two things. First, Burnley suffers from several different phobias (fear of flying, driving, the dark, etc.), which are used for inspiration in the band’s lyrics. These phobias are so big of a challenge that Burnley alters his recording and touring schedule around these phobias, which tends to drag out the creative process. Another thing that makes Breaking Benjamin stand out is that everyone left his band in 2014. Not too often does a frontman start over fresh, but because of ongoing legal disputes, Burnley did just that. Supporting him now are Aaron Bruch on bass guitar, Keith Wallen on rhythm guitar, Jasen Rauch on lead guitar, and Shaun Foist on drums. The band’s sound is generally the same as their previous albums, which is one of two criticisms of this album (I’ll mention the other in a moment). I mean, if you’re starting fresh, perhaps the band can start over with a clean slate as well? Nonetheless, their latest album “Dark Before Dawn” is a must-listen to alternative rock fans.

breaking benjamin live
Photo by Examiner

Leaving off where “Dear Agony” ended, “Dark Before Dawn” explores the alternative rock/post-grunge sound that is becoming popular in today’s rock. The guitars are phased and rhythm-driven, the bass is loud and complementary, and the drums use the bass pedal heavily. The songs are very catchy, very hummable, and very relatable. The first song after the instrumental introduction is “Failure,” the album’s single featuring lyrics set to catch the mood of the mistakes we make in our lives. Burnley’s range is immaculate just like in his previous albums, ranging from lower registered rhythm sections to soaring choruses. He even instills some death growl sections in the song “Breaking the Silence,” reminding me of their older albums. All in all, despite a completely different lineup, Breaking Benjamin does not miss a beat.

My favorite song on “Dark Before Dawn” happens to be the softest, being “Ashes of Eden.” It is perfectly placed in this album, occurring after the uplifting vocals in “The Great Divide,” and before the album’s concluding song (excluding the instrumental outro “Dawn”). Burnley delivers his best vocal performance on this album, easily giving me goosebumps with every word he says. The song is very downbeat, containing clean electric guitar, a military-style snare drum beat, and even a string section. The combination of it all is very heart-retching, leaving the listener to understand the pain in Burnley’s delivery. The lyrics are even touching, reminding the audience of a near-death experience or something. The chorus always gets me, and is the most heartfelt and meaningful chorus Breaking Benjamin has written:

“Are you with me after all? Why can’t I hear you? / Are you with me through it all? Then why can’t I feel you? / Stay with me, don’t let me go / Because there’s nothing left at all / Stay with me, don’t let me go / Until the ashes of Eden fall” (source)

The album concludes with the songs “Defeated” and “Dawn.” This is where my second criticism comes in. With “Defeated” clocking in barely above three minutes, and “Dawn” clocking in at almost two, I feel the album’s end is very anti-climatic, like something is missing that would better conclude the album. I don’t know if it’s because of all the progressive rock I listen to, but I was expecting a much more powerful ending to “Dark Before Dawn.” I feel “Without You” was a much better ending to their previous album “Dear Agony,” but I guess it’s just a matter of opinion. (Were you satisfied with the album’s end? What’s your favorite end song of Breaking Benjamin’s? Sound off below!)

Breaking Benjamin
Photo by Yahoo Music

Overall, “Dark Before Dawn” is an amazing album, which is evidenced by the numerous positive ratings and successful sales online. I fall in line with those assumptions, and believe it is one of their strongest albums to date. I recommend this album to fans of Staind, State of Illusion, Chevelle, Alter Bridge, Shinedown, and other rock bands you hear on the radio. You can support Breaking Benjamin by visiting their website, or by following them on Twitter and Facebook. They are currently on tour in North America with several dates in July already sold out, so get your tickets quick!

breaking benjamin cover1Purchase “Dark Before Dawn” by Breaking Benjamin by clicking the album cover above!

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