Dawn. Fine. It’s “Dark Before Dawn”, but I whole-heartedly believe that my title was better.
Welcome to my first full album review for this blog. As usual, history lesson. Breaking Benjamin, referred to hereafter as BB, was formed in 19-whogivesafuck in Boringmotherfucker, Pennsylvania. Look, I don’t care where they came from, I just want to get this over with so I can paint an accurate picture of what a dickhead Ben Burnley is. This is their 5th record, it is boring as hell, and I will get into that later.
So they didn’t release a record for 6 years, and theres a reason for that. 2 members of the band were fired and sued for making an agreement on behalf of the band that a very controlling, closed minded, tortured artist Ben Burnley did not care for. A version of the stinker “Blow Me Away” that featuring a no-name female vocalist that added very little to the track, as well as a pre-emptive greatest hits record. That’s what the fight was over. An old song with a backing vocal, and a greatest hits that has no bearing on your career. Sounds like a good reason to throw a hissy fit, fire people, sue them, then claim the rights to all the music and the band name. After he WON that court case, his drummer, who had stuck with him for the entire thing, bought a ticket to fuck-offity land and left. He went on to drink beer and suck with Black Label Society for a while.
So he hires a new band. He cuts a record. I listened to it. If I hadn’t been at work, I likely would have fallen asleep.
At first glance, we have the track list. This pompous assbag actually named the first track “Dark”. Oh you know what’s coming… Don’t pretend. Yes. He actually named the last track “Dawn”. Bad taste prevails! Both tracks are just instrumental mood setting music. No surprise here, they are both void of an interesting note.
Next up we have the single, “Failure”. It’s not a bad song. It’s not a good song either. It’s a song. It exists. It opens with a guitar part reminiscent of “So Cold”. First verse follows a tried and true “chug-then-chords” BB move. The bass work in this section is surprisingly fun. A little counterpoint slap action to keep things moving. Chorus… well, you can sing “Diary of Jane” in its place and not notice. Not super interesting, but overall not a terrible song.
Next track follows a typical BB formula; boring as shit verse, big pop chorus. Then a decent guitar riff. Unless the riff has been reserved for the bridge. They seem to have 5 distinct moves.
– “So Cold” heavily effect processed clean guitars
– Almost metalcore guitar riffs
– Boring verses
– Big boring choruses
– And this odd obsession with chugs that lead into harmonics.
Track 4 opens like a Godsmack song. You take that how you want. A new sound emerges. Is that a distorted yawn? What is that noise? It sure as hell isn’t screaming. Sleepy growling? Perhaps a bell rumble? There is so little enthusiasm in what we can generously call screaming, that it was covered in effects and buried in the mix. They tried to hide it.
Look, I am a scream vocalist. I chose to pursue that musical avenue because I am a terrible singer. You know what anyone on earth can do? Scream. It takes a couple months to get right. Think of the dumbest, most talentless musician you know personally. A shiny nickel says they are a screamer. I play guitar and write songs, so that is my saving grace.
Any flippy haired moron with more enthusiasm than talent can scream for a band. Yet, we find Ben here being fixed up with processing and buried in the mix. How sad is that? Someone who calls themselves a professional musician can’t take the time to watch “The Zen of Screaming”. Seriously Ben, torrent it. There’s a lot of good stuff in there.
So there’s a lot of uninspired riffs and pointless meandering bullcrap on this record. Nothing stands out. A little 3/4 time stuff. A ton of those phrygian melodies that turn major key in the middle of a minor key. Cool once, lame if used as a crutch.
“Never Again” has one of those horrible “chug-chug-natural harmonic” riffs that a 9 year old would write, then discard as hackneyed 20 minutes later. “Well, it worked in ‘Blow Me Away'”, you might say. Yea, that song sucked too.
“The Great Divide”. Guys… Chevelle stole that move from Tool like 10 years ago. You are 3rd generation old news. Stop it. Also, don’t open a ballad with a big mean riff.
“Ashes of Eden” is one click on the autotune knob before T-Pain. This guy sucks. Seriously. This stuff isn’t hard.
Okay, so from end to end, DBD is a fairly cohesive body of work. Nothing stands out, both positively and negatively. The new drummer is good. The new bassist is really good. Unfortunately, it is still Breaking Benjamin. You fire Ben Burnley and you might have a great band. Yes, fire the guy that fought tooth and nail to keep a terrible band name, and instead use the band that he assembled to form a better one. Preferably with a better name. One without the guy’s name in it.
I will never understand my peers’ infatuation with this band. Metalcore guys that dig BB blow my mind. Sure, if you were really tired, you might mistake this for metalcore. What it really is? Nu metal revival.
Kill it with fire.
Kill it before it lays eggs.