Review Summary: One of the greatest grunge albums to come of this day and age
I will start off saying that Breaking Benjamin is my favourite band in history. Now don't let that fool you into thinking I'm just going to praise this band constantly, I promise you I won't. Anyway, I found Breaking Benjy accidentally (a very happy accident). Someone on YouTube had made a Friday the 13th tribute video, and the music they had used amazed me. At the time I had just started getting into the likes of Seether, Three Days Grace and KoRn, so to none of your surprise, I was digging this music. The video didn't have the song name in the description, so I used a find song by lyrics site, and typed in "I don't think you wanna *** with me", and Shallow Bay was the first result. I immediately ran to iTunes, but was disappointed to find that the UK store only had Phobia. Now, I was one of those 14 year olds that was afraid to listen to other songs by artists I liked, in fear of being majorly disappointed (Linkin Park). But this time, I decided instead I would give this band a try (and I'm so happy I did). I purchased one song from Phobia, the most popular one there, The Diary Of Jane. I had a complete eargasm. Soon after, I purchased the rest of Phobia, finding many more songs I couldn't stop listening to (You, Breath, Evil Angel, Topless, Had Enough, You Fight Me). Anyway, about a year passed, and I still only had Phobia. We went to Florida one summer, and there was a CD store. That is where I found Saturate on CD.
I think I'd better tell you my thoughts on the album, I feel like I just gave you my life story. Anyway, Saturate is one of my favourite albums of all time. Why? Because its a catchy album. There are a few songs that sound like the previous song (Home, Water) but I didn't mind that at all. I like consistency in a band. It's not that I don't like bands taking new directions, but some of them fall hard in doing so (KoRns Path Of Totality being the prime example). The first track "Wish I May" starts with a grinding chord before exploding into a powerful riff. The lyrics are very obscure, you have to make your mind up about what they mean too you. I was very surprised to find no obscenities in the first track, its good that they don't shout "***" and "***" every 5 lines in every song.
The second track Medicate is just wow. A lot of people seem to have a problem with this song, but I can't see why, it is most definitely one of the best on the album. The song is powerful, the lyrics are catchy and moody, and the chorus has a very high-schooly-stadium-cheery sort of feel to it. It's very positive feeling song, a rare thing to get from a post-grunge band.
Polyamorous was Breaking Benjy's breakout hit. And I truly love this song, but, in my opinion, the likes of Medicate are better. Polyamorous is a truly great song, very powerful, with a strong message about polyamory (duh) and a different unique riff playing throughout.
Now, all albums have that one song that I like to call the virgin song. This is a song that takes some listening to before you're able to finally pop it's musical cherry and enjoy it. Skin was this albums virgin. At first, I didn't like this song. I didn't hate it, I just didn't like it. The lyrics are quite dumb in my opinion, no wonder Burnley refuses to sing this at concerts (he gets the audience to sing it for him). This song, was chosen over Medicate to be the albums second single. Ben and his band mates begged the record company to go with Medicate, but they refused and Breaking Benjy solemnly agreed. I can really see why they wanted Medicate over this. However, after a while, this song really grows on you. It's got a catchy riff, the lyrics are weird and don't make much sense, but you'll find yourself singing it in the shower after a while.
The 5th track, is Natural Life. This song has an obscure opening beat, with a very "Tool" - like sound. The lyrics to this song, are much more poetic than those of Skin, about living a "Natural Life" (once again, duh). This song, at about 2:18, changes a little and could almost be a completely different song. It's has a lengthily section of instrumental, and then goes straight into a Three Days Grace esque verse before the final chorus. And, overall, it works brilliantly.
The 6th track, Next To Nothing, is different to what is on the album so far. A good different. It's uses more acoustic guitars, and has more of a love song mood to it. The lyrics are beautiful, and it is in general a great song. My only problem with this song would be it sounds much too Nirvana-esque. I know Benjamin Burnley was heavily influenced by Nirvana, but this song I feel goes too far.
The next song, Water, is very clearly about Burnleys alcoholism. A very heavy song, it is one of the best on the album. The lyrics are very poetic, but at the same time, rather aggressive. The riff is very basic, but powerful, and has a strong beat. The opening to this song, is unique, drawing influences from Indian music.
Home, too me, is very similar to Water. A chunky and heavy guitar riff, almost the same as the one in Water. But half way through, this song changes and progresses into a song more along the lines of Polyamorous. The song basically tells the story of The Wizard of Oz, in a dark and brooding manner. This works brilliantly, and this is another great song on the album.
Phase starts with a quiet drum solo before the guitars come in. This differs it from the other tracks, preventing it from being the same thing again. The chorus is by far the best part, with catchy lyrics and a clear double-peddle bass drum.
No Games at first I didn't like much, I liked it, but less than the rest. The first 2 minutes or so are your bog-standard post grunge song, albeit a very good one, referring to fellation (giggedy). But then the last 2 mins or so are more strings based and sound not too dissimilar to Coldplay (never thought I'd mention them in a Breaking Benjy review). It's a good song, but not as good as the rest.
Sugarcoat has some examples of how great Benjamin Burnleys voice is, with powerful screams in the chorus. It's brilliant song, with a catchy and chunky guitar riff, not too dissimilar to something from the likes of Static-X.
Next we have Shallow Bay, the very song that got me into this band. This song is a brilliant one, the guitar riff is amazing, it's chunky, catchy and its hard not to headbang to it. The chorus is one of the catchiest I've heard, and I often find myself singing "And I float upon a shallow bay" whilst doing work or cooking or whatever. I can understand why a lot of Breaking Benjy's stuff is named after this song, their website (www.shallowbay.com) and their best of album, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin.
And finally, the bonus track, Forever. I got an enhanced version of this album, so I got the Polyamorous music video, with Forever tied onto Shallow Bay, making Shallow Bays run time 8 minutes. Forever is more of a rock ballad, similar to something from Seether. It's a good song, but one of the weakest on the album. The lyrics are a little too lovey dovey doo for my liking, a little like "When You Can't Sleep At Night" by Of Mice & Men.
Overall, this is a truly great album, I love it, I listen to it everyday and never get tired of it. I am most definitely a Ben-head (hehe)
Pros: Wish I May, Medicate, Polyamorous, Natural Life, Next To Nothing, Water, Home, Phase, No Games, Sugarcoat, Shallow Bay
Cons: Skin, Forever (not really cons, I just like them less)