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.
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.
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...
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.
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 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...