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Breaking Benjamin - Dear Agony

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Benjamin Burnley - lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Aaron Fink - lead guitar, backing vocals

Mark Klepaski - bass guitar

Chad Szeliga - drums, percussion

 

             "I'd like to thank Benjamin for breaking my fucking microphone,” said the owner of the microphone at a club in which front man Benjamin Burnley kicked over the stand during an open mic night. Hailing from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania the band began in 1998.  Though they changed their name from Breaking Benjamin briefly in 1999, they changed their name back. In 2001 the band recorded an EP and produced 2000 albums which sold like hotcakes. Shortly after they signed with their label Hollywood Records and released their debut album Saturate. After little success the band headed back in for the sophomore release We Are Not Alone. The album hit high with its track “So Cold,” reaching #2 on the charts as well as “Sooner or Later.” In 2006 the third album Phobia hit stores and not only had another #2 track with “The Diary of Jane,” but a #1 song titled “Breath.” Three years later Phobia went platinum and the forth Breaking Benjamin installment hit stores. Dear Agony went into stores later September 2009. The album spreads 11 tracks long beginning with “Fade Away.” It opens the album up with a blast of sound and energy. It starts slow introducing a low voice then burst through the doors. The vocals over take everything standing front and center while the guitars soar behind and the drums drive the track home. “I Will Not Bow” again starts slow building to a familiar sounding note. The guitars rages throughout the as vocals are easy to understand and follow showcasing Burnley voice. The track has that element to provide an excellent addition to a live set list. It offers up a collection of sounds that will be played in the air over and over. “Crawl” doesn’t need to build as it takes off from the get go. The music provides a perfect chance to head bang. That gives way to soft spoken vocals the demands attention. They do get a bit aggressive from time to time, screaming the lyrics and giving them a different effect. It’s hard, heavy, and would make a great live tune. “Give Me A Sign” slows the album down with heart-felt track. Ben’s vocals come straight from the soul as the tunes lets the song come together to form a solid bond. The track will make you close your eyes and enjoy what it has to offer. “Hopeless” kicks the shit into high gear. Opening with a burst of energy the aggression doesn’t end there. The guitars continue to soar to new heights as Chad pounds the shit out of the drums. They bring back the growling, screaming vocals from “Crawl” giving it that added boost for flair and attitude. Among everything that is going on in this track it still remains crisp and clear. Simply put…an awesome track. “What Lies Beneath” slows the track down once again. The guitars flair up slightly once the chorus begins and concludes when it ends. The vocals and lyrics are the main attraction. With passion and emotion they will reach out and extend a hand out to anyone who needs it. There is one set of lyrics that I absolutely love in this track “Your Sick Twist Smile.” Tell me that that isn’t sweet. “Anthem of the Angels” keeps the vocals slowed down while the music spikes in spots and almost sounds epic. The highs that are hit work extremely well with the low vocals. “Lights Out” gets sick and twisted with racing guitars, growling vocals, and heart stopping drums. The mixture of the vocals is what really stands out. They flow from one kind to another without any hiccups or flows. The guitars also will race around your head giving you a massive headache that only head banging will release. The title track is next to spin off. “Dear Agony” goes back to the slower side of things. It is a track that lights will be lit, cell phones open, and women going nuts. The lyrics really take center stage and have so much potential to do a lot of work. The passion oozes from the vocals to each and every person standing there at a live show. “Into the Nothing” is a solid track that has great vocals and sweet music as the album ends with “Without You” a track that sounds like a signature Breaking Benjamin song. The smooth vocals and crisp music seems to be something they can produce time and time again. Overall this is a solid album and could very well be the most complete album to date for this PA band. As the last track states almost every song they write is smooth and crisp. They have a knack for writing songs that people can relate to. Nearly every track goes through transitions that a flawless. There are some definite powerhouse tracks on this album as well as some tracks that could use a bit more spice. The bulk of the album though is rock solid. The screaming vocals add depth to the lyrics as well as making the other ones stand out more. Without them the rest of the vocals would sound repeated over and over again. The guitars soar, race, and rage throughout the album with new sounds around every turn. There aren’t too many solos, but when they get a chance watch out.

 

Rating: 8 out of 10

Tracks to Watch:

Crawl, Hopeless, Lights Out

 

Track List:

  1. Fade Away
  2. I Will Not Bow
  3. Crawl
  4. Give Me A Sign
  5. Hopeless
  6. What Lies Beneath
  7. Anthem of the Angels
  8. Lights Out
  9. Dear Agony
  10. Into the Nothing
  11. Without You

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