Review Summary: Phobia falls short in a few areas, but is still a pretty strong album.
Listening back to all four albums, I can say that Saturate and Phobia are the two albums that have stood up fairly well. Despite ‘We Are Not Alone’ having their fan favourite single ‘So Cold’, I definitely find it a pretty weak record.
Musicianship in these types of bands never really get the spotlight, it’s never the focus, it’s all about vocal work. That’s not to say the riffs on offer don’t do the job, they are definitely competent and do what they need to to cater for the vocals.
The most frustrating thing I find -with all of BB’s records for that matter- is the production is pretty poo: bass is near non-existent and drums do little else than hold the song together. But as I said, this type of music isn’t about the music behind it, it’s about the voice fronting it.
And luckily Phobia is a record that stands strong, mainly because Ben’s voice is very consistent throughout: very catchy chorus’. Songs like Dance With The Devil, Breath and Diary of Jane all have very strong, catchy melodies that stick in your head for hours. It’s rare the band touch on the cliché Nickelback style “HEAVY” riffs, but, having said that, even songs like Had Enough, which fall in this style, don’t make you grimace.
Lyrically it’s a personnel affair too as Ben’s main topic of discussion is his drinking problem. Songs like ‘You’ make you really feel what he’s saying.
That’s not to say this is a perfect album though, far from it. There are a couple of songs on here that are easily forgettable and lack any real substance from the vocal side of things, and because the music behind it is keeping vocals in mind, the song suffers because of it. ‘Evil Angel’, while it is a perfectly ok song drags on and quickly becomes mundane and repetitive. ‘Topless’ is another one of their “heavy” songs and is pretty catchy, but lyrics like “I love your face, just get away. I’m on my knees. F*** you, f*** me.” Just don’t cut the mustard anymore and it blunts the edge of the song.
Overall though, it’s still a very enjoyable album for me. While some of the lyrics haven’t held up very well as I’ve got older, the melodies certainly save the day. And a good 80% of the album is still very fun to hear. I really like the guitar work on this album, too.
Of course, as I always say, with bands like Breaking Benjamin, if you don’t like the voice there is little else to find from the band.
Diary of Jane
Dance With the Devil
You Fight Me