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Album Review: Breaking Benjamin – Dark Before Dawn

Benjamin Burnley returns with a new lineup, returned passion and makes failure sound like a good thing.


Text Review:

Some musicians have a rabid die-hard fanbase who will ALWAYS come flooding back no matter how long the wait or circumstances.  Bands like Tool and Faith No More are perfect examples that a band can go years without material and when they finally deliver, people become ravenous for wanting to hear the new music.

After five years of inactivity due to health scares, lawsuits, and line-up changes, Benjamin Burnley has regrouped with four new bandmates and Breaking Benjamin have returned to both the road and the studio.  As of 2015, the dark is finally over and the dawn has come for Breaking Benjamin fans.

When a decent amount of time off paired with band member changes all happen for a group, many fans will question if the new material will reflect or at least be up to par with past works.  When it comes to a bigger name like Breaking Benjamin, the outcry of betrayal would echo for weeks if the first album in years didn’t deliver what the fans were anticipating.

With Breaking Benjamin though, it’s safe to assume a few standards.  The lyrics brooding and self-reflective.  Fluid guitar work for both riffs and rhythm.  Vocals that elevate at the perfect moments to exclamate a chorus.  These are the consistencies Breaking Benjamin fans hope for.  This also it a smart way to write songs.

In an interview with The Pulse of Radio, Benjamin Burnley talked about his writing formula, saying that “I like to write songs that I like… and then it just so happens that the public likes it too… I don’t get too artsy with it or anything like that. Just cool riffs, good melody, good lyrical content, slap it all together and you’ve got yourself a record.”

The BEST example of this formula can be described with the song Failure.  It was the first single to come from the newest album and instantly gave a nostalgia trip to fans who have been listening for over a decade.

I love this song.  Especially the ending.  Hearing Burnley scream Failure adds a powerful capstone to a great flowing song.  The rhythm is vibrant and gradual and carries everything on this perfect ride that leads to a loud climax.  The lyrics give an air of a desperate person and greatly describe a person with experiencing nothing but Failure.

This song is the perfect example of why Breaking Benjamin have not strayed away from their past style and sound.  Failure sounds like it could be placed on You Are Not Alone or Phobia and it would flow perfectly with those albums.  This is telling that Benjamin Burnley is still on par with his writing and has not veered off from what made his voice and music iconic.

Many people can make the argument that if Dark before Dawn sounds extremely similar to the band’s past albums, then why do I need to listen?  There is some truth behind that argument, however in the case of Dark Before Dawn, you are hearing additional work in the same unique style.  The melodramatic writing behind amazing guitar riffs is what has kept Breaking Benjamin fans waiting patiently for years.

Hollow has the potential to be a hidden gem for Breaking Benjamin fans to come back to time and time again and that will never hit radio play.  Lyrically it is brooding and desperate and remorseful.  The bassline is fantastic in the chorus and the gradual build in volume throughout the track is the perfect example of what Breaking Benjamin is best at.

When I talked about how the songs here sound similar to all of the past work by the band, many detractors will say it’s more of the same.  In my opinion, there is no need for Breaking Benjamin to reinvent their own wheel.  Just because the band members have changed, or the spokes in the wheel have been replaced, doesn’t mean that the wheel won’t keep moving just as well.

Even after a myriad of events that happened to Benjamin Burnley on a professional personal level, his passion for music and drive still lives.  Some detractors may say that it’s more of the same, but sometimes you just can’t get enough of a good thing.  And in today’s music market, it’s nice to have artists who are reliable.

Overall, I can’t imagine a breaking Benjamin fan of the past not being satisfied with this album.  Even if not every song is a full on masterpiece, the songs that stand out will haunt your heart and are tracks that you will remember forever.