Breaking Benjamin
Phobia


2.0
poor

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
March 27th, 2007 | 278 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


I used to be a big alt-rock and nu-metal fan way back when Linkin Park was still on the rise. I grew out of the whole thing and the whole genre tires me now and then, but for nostalgia reasons and the fact that you need to try something new once every while and that I had this album close at hand anyway led me to pop this one in for once and use it for my next review. I had heard the track So Cold and Polyamorous and these two struck me as being particularly catchy and interesting. But would the latest offering live up to the expectations?

And I am sad to say it doesn't. Phobia is a decidedly murky affair, alternating between riffs Linkin Park would come up with and choruses and verses about as heavy as your average Nickelback song. It's a weird hybrid, and one that doesn't work at all. The band pulls off a couple good riffs, but nothing wholly interesting or grandiose, and it seems that after 10 seconds of riffing they've lost steam and pull down the volume for the chorus, which decidedly sucks and fails to catch attention (apart from a few songs.) Not to mention almost all the songs follow that same formula in a simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus maybe even a bridge LOL chorus style. It's not even that terrible, it's just so horribly generic it makes you feel that the band was just plucked out of some suburb and put on stage, get labelled with the tag of the newest fad at that time, and go. There is no variety or differing music.

Then there's the musicianship and technicality of the band. Apart from displaying one or two good riff and a knack for not being able to sing an effective chorus, the drums and bass are nothing special (I can't hear the bass and the drums are just there to keep the beat), and the lead guitarist Fink displays about two solos with the complexity of an amoeba. I have to admit, the outro instrumental is pretty cool though, but can't you apply that sort of technique more often? Is it such a cruel joke that you've been wasting your talent on the 12 songs preceding this and then send out that as a last teaser? What is that ***?

The vocals aren't terrible though. They fall indeed into the category of horribly generic, but that happens. The guy can sing properly, it's not as if you need ear protection or anything, but there's nothing about his voice that makes him stand out. Aside from the odd scream he does nothing of interest with his voice, and those screams happen about three times to augment a word like "hate", trying to give off that "we are hardcore" vibe when they actually are just a set of pussies. It doesn't work, guys. If you wanna be hardcore and heavy, then play heavy for the duration of a song, three songs, or maybe the whole ***ing album, but don't keep switching styles so you may please more listeners who will find out that you suck on both fronts eventually. Trying to compromise between the people who hear this stuff on the radio and the people coming from the heavier side is not a good idea, as the heavy side is just going to say "you guys are pussies" and the soft side is going to complain about the heavy riffs found on the album and say "this album is too loud =/=/=/=/".

There are one or two tracks however where the band does get it right. The Diary Of Jane is a song that hits home on all levels, despite not being musically amazing or anything the tune is pretty catchy this time around and it does have a chorus that may get stuck on your head, plus the piano version is a little bit better even. Topless is the other song, the lyrics are cringeworthy but at least it keeps the guitar riff intensity for more than a split second. Again, there's nothing amazing about it altogether, but at least it's not horrible, like the rest of the disc, which is just generic and bland.

In short I would advise you to buy something else when it comes to this scene. I've seen more diverse acts in this genre and I think you'd do well to save your money on this one, unless you are a rabid fanboy collector. It is really nothing special at all and it has to be one of the most dull records I've ever had to sit through. Not recommended.



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user ratings (1349)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Dalton DuBois (5)
    A glance into the ramblings of a paranoid and obsessive alcoholic...

    Simon Killip (3.5)
    Phobia falls short in a few areas, but is still a pretty strong album....

    mark sammut (3.5)
    Fear of Something New...

    thejon93rd (3.5)
    Unable to keep up with its promising theme, Phobia is an otherwise strong studio-effort fr...

  • DemolitionRider (4)
    This is not an perfect album, but it is damn close to be. Read my review, and you know all...

    Slaytan (2.5)
    There was quite alot of hype leading up to Breaking Benjamin's third release Phobia; but u...

    Acey (4)
    Good CD, with a few skippable tracks, is different that most mainstream music, while provi...


Comments:Add a Comment 
jrowa001
March 27th 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

good review. i cant stand these guys. not once have i heard a song i liked by them...just seemed so bland

Abaddon2005
March 27th 2007


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Isn't this supposed to be in mainstream rock?

Otisbum
March 27th 2007


1912 Comments


I find amoebas complex.
Nice review though.This Message Edited On 03.27.07

Altmer
March 27th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I should have mentioned what I was judging against...

a human being

Cesar
March 27th 2007


2732 Comments


I like Breath.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2007


2688 Comments


I agree with practically everything you wrote - Breaking Benjamin have always had this problem with their bass being pushed way too far down in the mix in their last two albums. The only thing I disagree with is the severity of your comments - I don't think Burley's vocals are as generic as you claim, and if Fink's solos are played with the complexity of an amoeba, then I must really, really, really be microscopic because I can't play guitar worth a damn. Anyway, I like this review and agree with it, but I don't think I have as great of distaste for it as you do. Both versions of "The Diary of Jane," especially the piano-only version, are absolutely stellar.

NOTINTHEFACE
March 27th 2007


1653 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I strongly disagree. This is one of the few bands from the genre who ever try anything new. Also, Ben Burley is one of the most remarkable singers of his brand, I don't understand how you could call him generic. It sounds as if you wrote this review based on one listen, which is something I try never to do. I promise it's worlds better the more you listen to it. But you're still entitled to your own opinion i suppose...

Shattered_Future
March 27th 2007


1541 Comments


This one I don't like that much. Saturate was a really cool album; however, I think the only song that sticks out on here is The Diary Of Jane. Everything else follows the same pattern.

One thing, though: Their drummer is a lot better than you give him credit for. If you listen hard to the drums (while there's still nothing out of the realm of modern rock drumming) there are some pretty cool patterns in there.

Altmer
March 27th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yep, Diary of Jane is good.

The rest blows.

thatguy84
March 27th 2007


214 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I pretty much agree with this rating, especially about how they only hold the intensity for a few moments in just about every song. Topless is a good song, as is Breath. Diary of Jane is ok, and the verse in You Fight Me has some cool stuff going on in it.

Does anyone else think that Evil Angel sounds strikingly similar to A Perfect Circle's Judith?

The Door Mouse
March 27th 2007


2092 Comments


Good review. Acey told me to try these guys and that translates to "don't try these guys" so I didn't and I guess I made a wise desicion.

lessthanderek123
March 27th 2007


96 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, good review. I can totally understand where your points are coming from, but for some reason I like this album. Along with Daughtry, they are my Mainstream Rock guilty pleasure.

Altmer
March 28th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

No, I didn't. I love A Perfect Circle though.

thesystemisdown
June 18th 2007


412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The opening riff to both songs is vaguely similar but beyond that they don't seem much the same to me.

This album is sooooooo predictable and these guys never really experiment at all (one guitar solo per album does not constitute artistic innovation, not by a long shot) but Ben Burnley's voice is pretty interesting and they can write catchy riffs. Pretty standard mainstream hard rock but I still have good memories associated with listening to this band. You know what I mean? Sometimes, you'll listen to an old band you used to like and cringe cause deep down you know it sucks, but you once liked them and you can't forget that positive association... whereas if you listened to similar bands that you'd never heard before, you'd hate them...

Infrared91
June 18th 2007


19 Comments


I agreed with everything you just said.

DemolitionRider
July 26th 2007


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I disagree

Cravinov13
July 26th 2007


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I completly forgot about this band's existence.

Unfable
July 27th 2008


5 Comments


They are by far amazing live thats for sure. Its nice to see band sound even better live than they do on the album. Dance With The Devil is the best song on this album.

SynGates
July 27th 2008


2467 Comments


meh If it's not one of my fav bands give me better album quality over live quality

ninjuice
July 28th 2008


6760 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lead guitarist Fink displays about two solos with the complexity of an amoeba

For whatever it's worth, I do think Fink and Burley are one of the best guitar duos in mainstream rock. Yeah, that's not saying much (at all) but still...



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