Review Summary: Dear Agony is a disappointing step backward from Phobia.
Here's a Breaking Benjamin
bio in a nutshell. It starts with Saturate, their 2002 debut, which got little initial attention aside from the moderate hit "Polyamourous". BB's 2004 album, We Are Not Alone, kicked them into the mainstream, with two #2 hits, "So Cold" and "Sooner or Later" (please, don't burn me, for the overuse of commas, in that sentence). Then in 2006 came the pinnacle of BB's brilliance, Phobia. Phobia sported the hit singles "The Diary of Jane", "Breath", and "Until the End" - the first of which became Breaking Benjamin's first pop chart hit, and the second of which became their first (and to date, only) #1 hit. Basically, Phobia is a very impressive piece of work - one that I would probably give a 3.5 or 4.
Now, here we are in 2009, with Dear Agony
With lead single "I Will Not Bow" becoming one of Breaking Benjamin's greatest hits so far, you would expect Dear Agony
to be even better than Phobia. But instead of the intelligent intricacy of the musical style that made Phobia a masterpiece, much of Dear Agony
's music seems pointless, forced, or pointlessly forced. This can be especially seen in "Crawl", "Give Me a Sign", "What Lies Beneath", and "Lights Out". "Crawl" just doesn't feel like an interesting track - rather I feel like it is too heavy, and drags on a long time. Then we have "Give Me a Sign". "Give Me a Sign" would probably be a better tune than it turned out to be if it didn't seem to wander aimlessly, and drag on almost infinitely. 2 tracks later, "What Lies Beneath" comes on. "What Lies Beneath" is easily the song I have to criticize most, given the unnecessarily sharp vocals and extremely generic, unimaginative lyrics. After that, there is yet another overly heavy, exaggerated number, "Lights Out".
generally comes off as a frantic response to the popularity of Phobia. Breaking Benjamin wanted to please the fans, and tried too hard. As a result, the overly abrasive, jagged, and boring Dear Agony is born.
While Dear Agony
may be popular with diehard BB fans, if you only liked Phobia then you may wish to stay away from this album.