Breaking Benjamin
Dear Agony


2.5
average

Review

by thatdudeud0ntknow USER (15 Reviews)
September 2nd, 2011 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Here we go again…

I’ll admit it straight up; I like Breaking Benjamin, and however much crap I get for saying this I stand by my belief that Breaking Benjamin really aren’t that bad. They certainly aren’t the absolute best of the batch (“batch” here referring to the mainstream rock genre), but they’re definitely one of the more respectable. Originality may be lacking, but to truly be able to enjoy any mainstream rock, you’re just going to have to put that to the side for a minute. And only then will it be revealed; behind the predictable song structures and the annoying amounts of airplay, Breaking Benjamin do have talent. They do what they do and they do it well, and while this may not be anything overly complex or astonishing, it puts them in a class above their peers-the infamous Nickelback/Creed/Three Days Grace crowd.

Despite this, I find myself unimpressed with Dear Agony, and it took me the longest time to figure out what it was that made this album feel inferior to past releases, particularly Saturate and We Are Not Alone. When you first listen to the album, it seems Breaking Benjamin have done nothing but improve. Guitar solos are not only present but surprisingly frequent-and although they may be short, they are no doubt sweet-especially when compared to the bitterly disappointing solos of Nickelback or the near-complete lack of anything resembling the sort on any of Three Days Grace’s albums. The melodies are strong as ever and the hooks satisfyingly catchy. Oh, and thank God, the bass is finally audible (for the most part). Why did it take so long, guys?

All this adds up to what should be a great listening experience. Album openers “Fade Away” and “I Will Not Bow” serve well in kicking off the album, featuring two of Aaron and Ben’s best riffs yet and both boasting pretty good guitar solos. As usual, the choruses are catchy without loosing any of the heaviness that keeps these tracks alive and kicking more furiously and angry than ever before. There’s no denying that Breaking Benjamin’s sound got decidedly murkier with 2006 release Phobia, and Dear Agony strides confidently down this path, as is evident right from the start. “Fast I fade away/It’s almost over/Slow I suffocate/I’m cold and broken” declares Ben in the chorus of “Fade Away,” and this pretty much sums up the rest of the album’s lyrical content; dark, heavy-hearted and generally depressing.

Although screaming, growling and heavy distortion flourish on Dear Agony, the heaviness does let up to a ballad or two on occasion. Perhaps the best of these is “Anthem of the Angels,” which shows the band-(Gasp!)-include a brand new instrument in their tried-and-tested formula; the violin! The instrument’s inclusion goes far from unnoticed, however-it really backs up the overall mood of the song and helps separate it from the rest of the album. The lyrical content is probably at its best here too, as Ben mourns the loss of a recently deceased (“I keep holding onto you/But I can’t bring you back to life/Sing the anthem of the angels/And say the last goodbye”). All in all, “Anthem of the Angels” is a solid, atmospheric track, and quite possibly the best on the album.

None of the other tracks disappoint either, so why is it that this album feels so unsatisfactory, so much like it could have been more than it was? It isn’t the slight repetition that plagues this album (most notably in the lyrics and opening riffs), nor the often melodramatic and frankly cheesy lyrical content. In the end, it comes down to one simple fact; we’ve heard it all before.

Call it consistency or call it laziness-the truth is Breaking Benjamin haven’t done anything to, or changed anything major with their sound for four albums now, and it’s really starting to show on Dear Agony. The band has never properly stepped out of its comfort zone, just built on the same formula they started in their debut. And while this means that they will generally be consistent and reliable as a source for solid, accessible radio-rock tracks with a nicely measured amount of heaviness to fuel their songs, it won’t be long before even the most die-hard fans will get bored and move onto the next big radio hit. It would be a shame to see this band fade into the nothingness that follows a failed music career-a waste of promising talent. But if they don’t do something to raise an eyebrow or turn some heads soon, it will be an inevitable and unfortunate fate for the band.

Let this be a warning, Breaking Benjamin-use the new members I assume you will soon be hiring as a chance to bring your music career back from the brink. Listen to their ideas, throw in some cool influences-maybe do a song that doesn’t simply follow the Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus formula. Surprise us, or even your biggest fans will soon be bored.

Recommended Tracks:
Anthem of the Angels
Fade Away
I Will Not Bow
Give Me A Sign
Crawl



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user ratings (917)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • 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....

    Davey Boy STAFF (3)
    As competent & inoffensive as ever, Dear Agony is unlikely to change your opinion of Break...


Comments:Add a Comment 
pizzamachine
September 2nd 2011


12571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Way too many dashes/hyphens, but good review otherwise.

Cipieron
September 2nd 2011


3508 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

another great review. personally i like this album a little more than saturate

thatdudeud0ntknow
September 2nd 2011


164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks to ya both. I just noticed the overuse of dashes reading back, I'll have to fix that, especially the ones that shouldn't even be there xD

Edit: Dashes should be fixed, or at least not as frequent.

pizzamachine
September 2nd 2011


12571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice fixes. : )

toxin.
September 2nd 2011


12776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Reads like a 3. To be fair to TDG, the solo in "Bitter Taste" is more impressive than any of the solos on this album.

But yeah, some of the riffs on this album are pretty cool, like the one in "Fade Away." Album is just forgettable and uninspired.

Also you wrote "ne simple fact" instead of "one simple fact"

toxin.
September 2nd 2011


12776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Jesus, Crawl rules. I forgot how great that song is.

thatdudeud0ntknow
September 2nd 2011


164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"But yeah, some of the riffs on this album are pretty cool, like the one in "Fade Away." Album is just forgettable and uninspired.

Also you wrote "ne simple fact" instead of "one simple fact"


Damnit. I'll fix that now.

Most of the riffs are good IMO, but I swear the riff in the intro of "Anthem of the Angels" is just ripped straight from the intro of "Careless Whisper" by George Michaels. There's barely any difference.

Crawl's good, but the verses/pre-chorus are so much better than the rest of the song.



DeadStarShine
September 2nd 2011


775 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Disagree that Fade Away is a good song. It's the least effective in the album. Anyway, good review, pos'd. I'll have to review this since me rating changed drammatically.

Acanthus
September 2nd 2011


9545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, and I can agree on them not changing but I enjoy this album; it took time but it grew on me.

Digging: MO - No Mythologies To Follow

thatdudeud0ntknow
September 2nd 2011


164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It was sorta the opposite for me. I liked it at first, but then it kinda grew...off...me. If you know what I mean. Which you probably don't, considering that didn't make much sense.

toxin.
September 3rd 2011


12776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Crawl's good, but the verses/pre-chorus are so much better than the rest of the song."

Yep, pretty much. I still think it's the best here despite the internal disparity.
Erm, actually my favorite song is (was?) Without You, with the obvious Red influence there.


thatdudeud0ntknow
September 3rd 2011


164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Erm, actually my favorite song is (was?) Without You, with the obvious Red influence there."

Didn't one of the guys from Red help write a bunch of the songs on this album? That would probably explain it...

Asiatic667
September 3rd 2011


4648 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What Lies Beneath, Crawl and I will not Bow are the best tracks on here

toxin.
September 3rd 2011


12776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, he did (lead singer I believe) with Without You specifically, hence the Red influence.
Ben also helped out with Red's Innocence & Instinct and Until We Have Faces.
Their collab was awesome on I&I (Shadows) but pretty meh on UWHF (Watch You Crawl)


tiesthatbind
September 3rd 2011


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anthem of the Angels is still my favorite on this. Album still mostly rules, although it's grown off
me some since it came out.

Digging: Poets of the Fall - Twilight Theater

toxin.
September 3rd 2011


12776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Anthem of the Angels always put me to sleep. I don't know if Sputnik interprets that as positive ("good sleeping music") or not

tiesthatbind
September 3rd 2011


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I just love Ben's voice in that song.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 3rd 2011


7318 Comments


I’ll admit it straight up; I like Breaking Benjamin, and however much crap I get for saying this I stand by my belief that Breaking Benjamin really aren’t that bad. They certainly aren’t the absolute best of the batch (“batch” here referring to the mainstream rock genre), but they’re definitely one of the more respectable. Originality may be lacking, but to truly be able to enjoy any mainstream rock, you’re just going to have to put that to the side for a minute. And only then will it be revealed; behind the predictable song structures and the annoying amounts of airplay, Breaking Benjamin do have talent. They do what they do and they do it well, and while this may not be anything overly complex or astonishing, it puts them in a class above their peers-the infamous Nickelback/Creed/Three Days Grace crowd.

Too many reviews of bands like these start with introductory paragraphs like these.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

toxin.
September 3rd 2011


12776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^Yeah, and if you don't start with that, you get neg'd. *shrugs*

Yuma310
September 6th 2011


1656 Comments


Was a 3.5 at release. now its a 2.5 tho



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