Review Summary: If you've only heard Breaking Benjamin's singles on the radio, than you don't know them until you've heard this.
If you know Breaking Benjamin just because of “Diary of Jane”, “Breath”, or “I Will Not Bow” you don’t know anything. Sorry. If you’ve never heard a single song on Saturate, you need to for three major reasons.
1. The Breaking Benjamin you’ve heard on the radio is horrible. The three songs I mentioned above and pretty much all of Dear Agony is junk.
2. In the band’s first two releases, the songs were more distorted, and grungy, drawing influences from Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots just to name a few.
3. It was the band’s debut album. If you want to check a band out, listen to the debut album first because it gives you a better sense of how they started and what music really meant to them before they got famous (We all saw what happened to Linkin Park, right?)
Anyway, Saturate starts off with “Wish I May” (the tracklist to your top-right is incorrectly spelled) and the song gives enough foundation of who the band is and enough to leave you wanting more. The distorted guitar solo is one of the high points in the song and the vocals blend well with the instruments something the next track “Medicate” does not do very well. The song is painfully repetitive and after a few listens most people consider it a skip track. The weird echo in between lines in the verses just doesn’t work. Hummel’s drumming is the only standout part of the song. “Polyamorous” starts off with a bang, and the whole song is catchy and more thought out than the previous two. It’s one of only two BB singles that are really good enough to be singles (the other being the remake of “Rain” when Szeliga joined the band.) Although the song can be a bit repetitive, it’s still an undoubtedly good listen. “Skin” is the other played single off of Saturate, and Ben has expressed his disdain for the song being a single because he likes “Medicate” more. (Little too much alcohol, Ben?) “Skin” is a well-rounded song and though the lyrics may be a bit odd, it still works as a follow up to “Polyamorous”
“Natural Life” is one of the heavier songs on the album along with “Water” and “Sugarcoat.” The bridge is the best part in it, when the drums really take over. The guitar is very good in the song also, with a little less creativeness but a better overall sound. This song is the only one on the album in ¾ time, and it’s much better like this. “Next to Nothing” is a softer song compared to the previous five, and it’s placement here in between “Natural Life” and “Water” is the best possible spot for it. Sadly, it’s the most repetitive song on the album and it’s spaced out vocals in the chorus just doesn’t fit. The guitar in the last 32 seconds of the song is some of my favorite on this album. Somehow the whole thing shouldn’t fit together well, but it does. “Water” begins with a watery sound (duh) before a short little guitar intro and the whole band starts playing. The distorted vocals work surprisingly well and the chorus is catchy with a melodic sound compared to the rest of the song. Burnley’s range is used well in the song, going from low sounds, higher screams, the whole nine yards. The short guitar solo is some of Fink’s best work on this release. “Home” is a song about the Wizard of Oz, and it’s such a weird movie in retrospect I’m surprised anyone would write a song about it for their debut album. They pulled it off though. Congrats guys. (claps) The chorus is one of the best, but the other guitar line starting at 2:46 is a nice touch instead of just the simple grungy guitar. The second third of the CD is so far the best.
“Phase” begins with a minute long little mix of guitar notes and African-style drums until the band turns up the rock again. This song is one of the best examples of “easy individually, hard together” Each member’s part of the song isn’t outstanding on it’s own, but together it becomes a great song. Burnley’s screaming at the end is one of the best moments on the whole CD. I’m disappointed that the song wasn’t the opening track, because “Wish I May” would’ve also been better at this spot on the album. “No Games” is the 2nd of 3 softer songs, and although it’s not my favorite, it is the best one. The acoustic-electric guitar switches are timed perfectly and 2:14-2:46 is a prime example of it. The softer, concerning violin is a nice touch to the song as well. The hard smack-you-in-the-face intro and softer chorus contrast in “Sugarcoat” is another guitar moment worth pointing out. The whole song is filled with great guitar, either during the chorus, verses, or solo, and Burnley’s screaming rocks here.
“Shallow Bay” closes the album much better than how “Wish I May” opened it, with again, great guitar work, but this time the riff is the main point in the song. The chorus is also one of the best on the CD, and as the album ends of with some calm strings. If you have a newer version of Saturate, then the Queen cover “Who Wants to Live Forever” (on the album just called “Forever” ) is included following Shallow Bay as a hidden track. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s still an okay listen if you don’t like how Shallow Bay ended the album.
There you have it. Every song on Saturate after Medicate is amazing, it’s just a matter of which ones you personally like. If you do happen to like the album than check out the band 2nd release, “We Are Not Alone”
Next to Nothing
As a Breaking Benjamin fan, I disagree with almost everything you said in the opening paragraph. There are a few good songs here, namely Polyamorous and Skin, but this is their weakest effort, and yes, I have listened to it, multiple times. Ben's vocals are poor, he would later improve, especially on their last two releases.
And Diary of Jane, Breath, and I Will Not Bow are all great songs.
But be honest, the rest of Phobia to most people including me, is better than the two major singles. Topless, Unknown Soldier, and Had Enough in particular are way better. I don't really like I Will Not Bow when it's on the radio, but with the rest of Dear Agony, it's a standout track. And yes, Ben's vocals aren't the best on this one, but it adds to the raw feel of the album, so it never bothers me.
To be fair, it does depend on your taste. If you prefer a rawer sound, this may work better. I just think that they improved in almost everything from here, musically, vocally, better songwriting, this album is decent for a debut but as I said I only find myself listening to a few standout songs whereas their other albums have a better flow IMO.
Yeah Phobia was one of the first albums I ever bought, and it was a wholesome listen and about 2/3 of the CD was great, but it left me wanting more. I got W.A.N.A and Saturate about 4 months later and around the same time, don't remember which came first. I listened to the leak of Dear Agony, but even though I didn't like it that much, I still bought it to support the band.
BTW, just got finished reading your Dear Agony review, you made it sound better than it was, (of course everyone's got they're own opinion, etc. etc.) but you write pretty good, can you give me some tips? This one and my Tool-10,000 Days review are the only two that I've heard people say haven't sucked