Review Summary: The album that broke the band.
Shallow Bay: The Best Of Breaking Benjamin; the compilation album that made the band implode and disappear for 3 years, lose lead guitarist Aaron, bassist Mark and eventually lead to a lawsuit over ownership of the band. What’s interesting is Ben never actually wanted the 'Best Of' to be released, due to some quality issues he had with the cover version of 'Blow Me Away'.
Quite a dramatic tale for a compilation album, but the album got released anyway and the important question remains: was it all worth it?
As far as compilation albums go this is probably one of the laziest I’ve come across. Very little thought or effort has gone into the album, it’s just 3 tracks from each album thrown onto a disc in the chronological order of which the albums were released. What’s funny, is that the songs that were picked off each album don’t even appear to be the fan favourites. It just looks like they went on to each album picked the singles and the first songs they could get their hands on. What’s even more ironic is the album is titled Shallow Bay, but the actual track doesn’t even appear on the album. Shallow Bay would have been a fitting choice of tracks as it was the first song Ben ever wrote under the band name, If they weren’t going to go with the strongest tracks off each album, they could have put songs on the album that meant something to the members.
So, it’s fair to say the compilation is a disaster and shows little sign to give a damn. Luckily, there is a deluxe 2 disc package that includes remastered/remixed versions of b-sides, covers, acoustic performances, live recordings and other rarities. This disc is also the whole reason the band went belly up, so it’s a good job that this is the saving grace of the whole thing.
The two previously unreleased tracks, Lie to Me and Better Days aren’t anything to boast about, but it’s nice to hear something new. The acoustic versions of Polyamorous, I Will Not Bow and the two live acoustic tracks Breath and Until the End bring different dimensions to the songs. For those that haven’t heard the Queen cover of “Who Wants To Live Forever” it’s well worth a listen and I’m glad they included it. However, the B-sides “Lady Bug” and “Ordinary Man” were never good to begin with and things haven’t changed years on. Both songs suffer from awful lyrics, Lady Bug, muscially, is a terrible punk sounding song; and while Ordinary Man is a lot better muscially you can certainly see why these tracks were never released onto an album.
The remaining tracks are an unreleased Depeche Mode cover of “Enjoy The Silence”, Saturate’s “Water”, which is a totally pointless addition and the only reason it’s on here is because it’s from the Self-Titled Independent EP they released. All it brings is a slightly rawer sound. And the last track is the god awful remix of “Blow me Away” (feat. Valora); it is this track that caused a lot of the mayhem in the bandcamp and I can honestly see why Ben kicked off with this getting released, because it does nothing other than destroy all that is great about the original track.
Final words, this album – with the exception of the second disc -- has little thought put into it and actually looks like one of them quick cash-in compilations record companies spit out. If you have never listened to Breaking Benjamin I’d suggest just listening to the albums, as they not only flow better, but you get to hear the stronger tracks BB have to offer. For those that are fans of the band, the standard edition of this album is an insult, but the second disc actually brings a little reason of interest to the table.
Die-hard fan’s only.