Breaking Benjamin
Dear Agony


3.0
good

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
September 27th, 2009 | 1473 replies | 67,812 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As competent & inoffensive as ever, Dear Agony is unlikely to change your opinion of Breaking Benjamin.

The general perception towards post-grunge outfit Breaking Benjamin has always been an interesting one. For a band that often gets compared to critically panned groups such as Nickelback, Seether & Three Days Grace, the quartet from Pennsylvania appear to get off lightly. Is it due to their relative technical proficiency, consistent competency, or simply as they have yet to break worldwide with a smash hit single like those other performers? Do not feel too sorry for them however, since previous LP ‘Phobia’ still sold over a million copies, so they are sure to be living comfortably enough.

With ‘Phobia’ consolidating on 2004’s ‘We Are Not Alone’, one could have been forgiven for thinking that the band’s 4th album may have been looking to stretch their boundaries. Unfortunately, that is not the case as Breaking Benjamin predominantly play it safe with another inoffensive and consistent release. There is no outlandish experimentation, hardly a foray into metal, no side-step into pop-punk catchiness, not even some offensive lyrics a’la Hinder & Nickelback. They know what they are good at doing and appear comfortable enough to continue following that formula.

In truth, there is not a great deal more to say about ‘Dear Agony’. As always, there are a handful of standouts (lead single ‘I Will Not Bow’, the catchy duo of ‘What Lies Beneath’ & ‘Without You’, and the heavier ‘Crawl’ & ‘Lights Out’) that are complemented by a solid batch of tracks that a little too often blend into each other. Aaron Fink’s guitar-work is rather impressive, the rhythm section capable, and Ben Burnley’s vocals are as strong and melodic as ever.

Burnley’s lyrics (occasionally assisted by Red’s Jasen Rauch) are also sufficient, if a little disappointing considering his neurotic nature. For someone that fears flying, is a recovering alcoholic, believes he has countless disorders and has plastered a scan of his brain on the album’s front cover, one would think he could have explored a wider variety of subjects than what he does here. In general, it is just a shame that the album does not include a little more imagination… Even a differentiating stripped back acoustic cut would have been nice, since it is something the band have nailed in the past.

To a point, Breaking Benjamin’s strength and weakness are one and the same. They are competent in almost every area of making their music and can be relied upon to deliver a solid collection of songs every couple of years. However, that same competency seems to also hold them back from breaking out of their comfort factor to distinguish themselves from their peers. Whether you judge the glass as half full or half empty is an individual choice, but either way, ‘Dear Agony’ is unlikely to change your opinion of Breaking Benjamin… Or for that matter, mainstream rock in general.

Recommended Tracks: I Will Not Bow, Without You & What Lies Beneath.



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user ratings (897)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • thatdudeud0ntknow (2.5)
    Here we go again…...

    marshal46 (4)
    "Dear Agony" is an excellent album that has been unjustly ignored and forgotten because it...

    sularetal (3)
    Puntuación: 6/10 Lo mejor: El single “I Will Not Bow” (hasta a mi hijo de 10 meses l...

    Nikichan004 (3)
    Solid musicmanship, tight riffs and too perfect to be true vocals create an album that wil...

  • James OBrien (2.5)
    Dear Agony is the result of an album designed to do exactly what its predecessor did. You ...

    Austin (4)
    Breaking Benjamin combine the strengths of their previous albums to create what is surely ...

    Dylan620 (2)
    Dear Agony is a disappointing step backward from Phobia....


Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't have a chance to do sound-offs for their other 3 albums after listening to them in the lead-up to this release, but I basically would rate them chronologically as 3, 3.5 & 3.5. This is definitely a step down from their last 2 (We Are Not Alone & Phobia).

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



10257 Comments


150! congrats

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Why thank you Sir Rudy. Is it worth a klap?

fromtheinside
September 27th 2009



17714 Comments


wow davey, you rec'd i will not bow which i think is the worst song on the album w/ fade away. but i'm glad we agree for the most part. i'm gonna be a little bit harsher though as i think its too safe.

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Ponton
Emeritus
September 27th 2009



5784 Comments


Have to agree with fromtheinside. The band didn't progress or grow at all.

Do we have to wait for the release date to post our reviews since this is up, or what?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That's probably our main point of difference fti. I like the lead single. Sometimes I think lead singles get a bad rep just because they are lead singles.

When I was waffling on about consistency, I almost added a line about it being difficult to decide which is the least effective track. I actually came to the conclusion that it was the opener 'Fade Away'. So we are there or thereabouts on that one.

Fair call on the "too safe" thing. It's all a matter of individual interpretation of how much to punish them (ratings-wise) for it. I definitely couldn't fail the album for it like you appear to be doing.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



2634 Comments


Okay, here's the thing about this band: their singles are pretty damn good. Every non-single on EVERY album absolutely sucks or is painfully mediocre. Spot-on review.

LisbonGirls
September 27th 2009



832 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I had expected this to be a lot worse

NewAgeHolocaust
September 27th 2009



19 Comments


meh

I'll still buy this...

sneasy
September 27th 2009



201 Comments


Use to LOVE Saturate and We Are Not Alone back in the day. Is this album worth checking out at all. I didn't like their last one all that much.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Gregory, you still have to wait until Tuesday mate.

Thanks Jom. And yep, I almost totally agree with you. In fact, I think a 'Best Of' from them would be an excellent listen. There is one song I do disagree with you on though and that is 'Had Enough' from 'Phobia'. I really like that song & especially it's chorus. The fact that he sings the word 'bastard' in the chorus is what stopped that from being released imo.

fromtheinside
September 27th 2009



17714 Comments


The fact that he sings the word 'bastard' in the chorus is what stopped that from being released imo.

i feel like this is the trend with this band, i don't necessarily disagree with cussing on records but with these guys it seems like just do it to try to be edgy - see Topless, which is something i do disagree with - see 'Minutes to Midnight'.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 27th 2009



5784 Comments


Alright thanks. I always thought "You Fight Me" was a great track from their last album. Quite different for them, and it worked well.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

LisbonGirls, unless you simply think mainstream rock is too bland, then these guys won't make a bad album since they do what they do rather well & don't push themselves to take risks.

"Is this album worth checking out at all. I didn't like their last one all that much." Sneasy, I'm gonna presume you didn't like the softer moments on 'Phobia'. My answer would depend on that. If so, there may be something for you to like here. Ben even pulls out some pretty ordinary attempts at death growls on 3 or so songs. There is an overall slightly heavier feel to this than 'Phobia'.

"i don't necessarily disagree with cussing on records but with these guys it seems like just do it to try to be edgy" While I agree with you re: 'Topless', this is a generalization. I don't think they cuss at all on this album.

LisbonGirls
September 27th 2009



832 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Always loved 'Dance With The Devil' Sadly I did not find a song similar to it on this album. Oh no I like mainstream rock, its just their last record kinda bored me except for a few songs.

Relinquished
September 27th 2009



24428 Comments


I used to like this band, but really this is just pathetic. I was seeing them get a little better after each release, but it's more of the same and it got boring already.

fromtheinside
September 27th 2009



17714 Comments


they don't which i'm still impartial to. but i feel like this is a more realistic side of the band i just wish they could have put all the pieces together. which i'll delve into with my review but i just hope you see where i'm coming from.

Eclectic
September 27th 2009



3302 Comments


I am going to be hearing about this endlessly from my friend, who is an avid fanboy, from your description it might not be as bad as I thought.
Well, hopefully not.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2009



10257 Comments


review is definitely worth a klap. band/album? not so much

Ponton
Emeritus
September 27th 2009



5784 Comments


You really think this is heavier?

hmm, it seems more mellowed out and slower in a few tracks. Even Ben's topics aren't as angry this time around. Just my opinion.



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