Review Summary: There was quite alot of hype leading up to Breaking Benjamin's third release Phobia; but unfortunately, it's just another average hard rock album.
Breaking Benjamin burst onto the hard rock music scene in 2002 with the release of their debut album, Saturate. The album was well received by those looking for a band with solid hooks, all while retaining an angsty sound, if you will. Their next release came in 2004, in the form of We Are Not Alone. With such radio friendly singles like "So Cold" and "Sooner or Later", the band managed to expose itself to a whole new group of listeners, all while retaining a majority of it's current fan base. Considering Breaking Benjamin's previous albums, and the steady increase in songwriting ability that came along with them, one would be expecting something special from their third album, Phobia, but sadly, that is not the case.
Breaking Benjamin (Phobia) is...
Benjamin Burley - Vocals, Guitar
Aaron Fink - Guitar
Mark Klepaski - Bass
Chad Szeliga - Drums
The album in general is generic. From start to finish it blends together like one long boring song. The main reason it does so is the guitars. They seem to repeat the same tuned down riffs over and over again. For instance, the main riff in "Breath" sounds just like the main riff in "The Diary Of Jane", which sounds just like the main riff in "You Fight Me." For an overwhelming majority of the album, they play the hard rock riffs and rhythms that you would expect them to, and rarely break away from that pattern. The solos on the album are few and far between, and even when they are present, they are ridiculously simple. They follow the vocal melody, or consist of a four note pattern played several times and several different tempos. Needless to say, Ben and Aaron failed as far as coming up with original and interesting lines on this album.
Chad, on the other hand, does a nice job of coming up with beats to play underneath the guitars. He is smart enough to know when to play a simple 4/4 drum beat, and when to play a more unconvential beat. His high hat is used in many cases to compliment the bass lines and vocal melodies, seeing as he opens and closes it at ideal times. Tracks like "You Fight Me" show off his power behind the kit, while other such as "Evil Angel" show how even his simple, low key beats are more than effective. All in all, he is one of the bright spots on the album, and does a nice job of interacting with his fellow bandmates...too bad they don't do anything interesting.
Bassist, Mark is inaudible for a large majority of the album; when he is heard though, he is following the stale riffs of the guitars. This is a dissapointment, seeing as how so many of the verses on their second album relied on him to come up with interesting lines for the vocals to flourish on.
Vocally the album is strong, but lacks the lyrics to make Ben's voice worth listening to. Most of the time he is singing about failed relationships or inner demons, the same way he has been singing about them for years. His clean vocals are well done, but don't really add anything new to the songs, and his harsher more rasp like vocals don't really fit in when they are used. In short, it's disappointing.
As previously stated, from start to finish this album is disappointing. Breaking Benjamin have always been a mainstream band with an edge, but seem to fully embrace being a mainstream band with Phobia
. Apparently this album is a must for die hard fans of Breakig Benjamin and mainstream hard rock, but for the rest of you...pass
OVERALL RATING: 2.5 Broken Bens Out of 5
P.S. If you are going to get this album, buy it in person, not off of iTunes. On the actual CD is a bonus track: The Diary of Jane acoustic. It's a nice break from all the monotony, if you can make it to track 14...