Every now and again, a song I would normally dismiss as boring and bland gets past my dull filter and convinces me to check out the band that birthed it into existence. It’s a rather uncommon occurrence, mind you, but all the same, when this “So Cold" song by Breaking Benjamin made its appearance, I found myself instantly smitten and simultaneously determined to hear more from this intriguing band. With this in mind, I purchased ‘We Are Not Alone’, and sat back for a sure to be delightful experience. As the opener (“So Cold") played through, I couldn’t help but smirk at what I thought had been a very good decision. The quiet intro, the heavy chorus… Sure it was a little re-hashed but hey, they pulled it off nicely enough. While I was basking in my glory, “Simple Design" made its foyer, and while it started off rocky, it made up for it’s shortcomings with a catchy chorus, even if it was vaguely cliché.
Cliché. And that’s where the problems began. “Follow" is candidly boring; containing whiny lyrics and singing and predictable arrangements and technique. Not even a minute into the outright melodic song I was certain where it was heading, and when it would get there. Perhaps it is worth mentioning the role that Billy Corgan played in writing a handful of songs on this album? Then again, perhaps it should remain a secret…A well guarded actuality in the rock pantheons. Still, it wasn’t a terrible song. Certainly not the first awful tune on the album, as that right is reserved for “Firefly". I’m not sure whether it was the mindless drop-d riffing, or the abrupt breakdown into a clean and flatly annoying verse that convinced me the rest of the ride might not be so smooth. Whatever the case, I did not want to give up hope on a band that had seemed so good at first glance.
It seemed I might have to anyway. To my mounting panic, “Break My Fall" took the formula previously put to use on “Firefly" and raised it to new lows. The same sloppy riffing and faux-emotional singing and lyrics infest this track like HIV in a brothel. After a somewhat redeeming bridge halfway through the song, the chorus is repeated again. And again. The second of the Corgan contributions stumbles in, and it’s called “Forget It". You might think on first listen it’s the ballad of the album. While not unjustifiable, this is false. Despite its feminine lyrics and singing, it is actually a well-crafted and relaxing pop song. Yes, that’s right. This is pop, and no matter how much you Seether fans steadfastly deny it, it will remain one. The overall inconsistency of the album still worried me, however, mainly for my long lost 14$.
“Sooner Or Later" proved itself a very worthy song, with (gasp!) good melodic singing, layers of harmonious over-dubs, and lyrics that alone could be the hook for the song. By contrast, “Breakdown" was three-and-a-half minutes of nothing. I don’t even remember it. And I’m listening to it now. While there had been some good songs presented, the predictability of it all began to take its toll. The three minute songs all seemed to say the same thing. You know, the “I’m going down and nobody understands, but I don’t wanna throw my life away" dreck that everyone seems to “connect with" lately.
As “Away" began, the first impression I gathered was that the group had made a unanimous decision to re-write “So Cold" and slip it on the album un-noticed. Nice try, punks. Then, out of nowhere, a foreign, screeching noise protruded through the speakers. I had read about these mythical entities, but had never heard them in a Nu-Metal context. A vaguely competent guitar-solo, albeit a short one, allowed me a breath of fresh air.
Immediately following this, the wind that I had just gathered into my lungs was quickly beaten out of me with the unforgivably bad “Believe". How does it sound, you ask? Musically, it sounds like an attempt to emulate pre-‘Ten-Thousand Fists’ Disturbed, while lyrically and vocally came across as nothing more than a second-rate Linkin Park, which says a lot.
Despite all of these numerous short-comings, there was still the odd enjoyable song on this album, and that seemed to be enough. There wasn’t really a blatantly horrible song on it, though “Believe" did come rather close. Let’s face it. It’s a horrible idea to put a nursery rhyme in your song and deliver it straight-faced. It’s an even worse idea to put it into the context of a meandering, chord-drenched ballad that ironically enough, contains the final contribution by Billy Corgan.
“Rain, rain go away.
Come again another day.
All the world is waiting for the Sun."
The entire time this song was on, I couldn’t shake that image of Christina Aguilera standing in front of that mirror in “Beautiful", an image more than likely created by the incessant whining the singer was doing. As this was the closer to the album, I was ready to proclaim this cd a general waste of money, with about four or five good songs and the rest an unholy mountain of filler. Still, it had some replay value, as it did deliver the goods in a few ( ß that would be the key word there) select places.
So what rating could such an album deserve? Honestly, I couldn’t live with myself if I gave it anymore than a 3, and that seems a little generous. After some minor deliberation, I’ve decided to go with a…
First impressions aren’t always everything. Just look at Ted Bundy.
Some good songs with great melodies.
A few inventive ideas
Singer can become annoying