Breaking Benjamin
Dear Agony


4.0
excellent

Review

by Simon STAFF
November 5th, 2016 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An effort so good it leaves you to ponder on what could have been.

Dear Agony, Breaking Benjamin's fourth studio effort and the final album to contain founding members Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski before the band's untimely implosion in 2012. Dear Agony is an album that documents a band who finally crafted their niche in music; a solid signature sound they can call their own. Breaking Benjamin made real headway with Phobia in 2006: the album brought a much better control of its emotional balance and the songwriting it created, and is still to this day one of the highlight records of the band's career. So where does Dear Agony sit with the rest of the band's discography" Pretty damn high. Dear Agony takes what Phobia created, and lays it all out to carefully polish and file to a point of complete satisfaction. It could be seen as running the risk of playing it a little too close to Phobia, but unlike Dark Before Dawn this has a lot more to offer its fans than its disappointing comeback LP.

As is evident on the likes of the opening track, "Fade Away" and "Crawl", it hears the band dropping its tuning to an even lower level than previous, creating a much more dank atmosphere and one that works harmoniously with Ben's melancholy performances. Its moody, and darker than before, while it constantly sits on refining the staples made from Phobia. There are so many pleasing moments to be had with tracks, this is achieved by utilising the lower tuning and darker production: "I Will Not Bow" has a great dynamic which brushes between the lighter side of the band's sound, found on the verse as it subtly works on its listener; conditioning you with a reverb saturated guitar riff, while the rhythm section sets the mood of the song. Creeping in with a heavier pre-chorus and then eventually going up to satisfying heights with its soaring chorus. But it's the additional variations and mix ups that make this track, and others like it, so enjoyable. The heavy chugging extensions of the second and third choruses have such a profound affect on the track it can't be overlooked as being a highlight. And it's moments like these that not only steal the show, but really push them into being a much heavier band.

Despite the band largely being restrained over the years, it's Chad's drumming and Mark's heavy crunching bass tones that speak the loudest on here, and really hold up the aesthetics of Dear Agony; though it will go underappreciated by many, this is where the credit is due. The bleak atmosphere on the softer songs "Anthem of the Angels" and "Give Me a Sign" bring the textbook 101 sound commonly found with a ballad Breaking Benjamin track, but the fat punches and guttural lows of the rhythm section bring a new and different spin to the formula, and it works fantastically well. Additionally, Aaron's guitar playing is hell-bent on creating a distinct ambient mood throughout: the spacey white noise that surrounds "Lights Out" or the painful sounds he gets out of his guitar on "Into The Morning" are a couple of examples of a band working on consistency and mood setting.

What is there to be said about the vocals on here, bar the fact they are probably the best takes Ben has ever done" Undoubtedly the album was made at a time where Ben was at his worst, and it brought the best out of him on here. Lyrical content aimed at his drink problems and God knows what else that was taking over him at this point; his takes on here feel convincing, and pained. The lyrics are still the same tired and overused string of words he's been using for far too long, but his performances on here and the extremely impressive melodies he formulates on almost every song are simply excellent. The title track, I feel, is the only track on the album that doesn't capture the same level of melancholy and depression the rest of the album does. Both musically and vocally, the track falls a little flat.

For all the joy this album brings me, it's also an album of bittersweetness. This is because it sees a band flexing its new found abilities -- showcasing a much broader range of emotions and ambiance; but then it's also to be the last album made by a collection of people that were just starting to work on their stride, and indeed, something that could have been very special in the future. Considering Chad joined the band just before the making of Phobia, Dear Agony shows him bringing the band closer together, and brings out a much more exciting band. Is it the band's best album to date" It's a tough one, but it certainly gives its peers a run for its money.

Excellent.

Editions: MP3, C̶D̶, V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶

Packaging: CD - Jewelcase; Vinyl - standard sleeve.

Special Edition: N/A



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user ratings (1304)
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    As competent & inoffensive as ever, Dear Agony is unlikely to change your opinion of Break...

    tiesthatbind (4)
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    marshal46 (4)
    "Dear Agony" is an excellent album that has been unjustly ignored and forgotten because it...

    Dylan620 (2)
    Dear Agony is a disappointing step backward from Phobia....

  • thatdudeud0ntknow (2.5)
    Here we go again…...

    UnnamedOcean (2.5)
    Dear Agony is the result of an album designed to do exactly what its predecessor did. You ...

    Nikichan004 (3)
    Solid musicmanship, tight riffs and too perfect to be true vocals create an album that wil...

    sularetal (3)
    Puntuación: 6/10 Lo mejor: El single “I Will Not Bow” (hasta a mi hijo de 10 meses l...



Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


15517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know this album isn't as well recieved on here, but goddamn do I love this thing. Ironically, I thought it was crap when it first came out, but as time has gone on I've really grown to appreciate it.



As always, constructive criticism welcome, guys.

Digging: Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


15517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, it's also a discog review completion.



yay

EvoHavok
November 5th 2016


7692 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice read, Gonzo. Album still is great.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


15517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers Evo.



Listened to this sucker 4 times this morning. haha This album's like a fine wine.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
November 5th 2016


25772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet album/review

Digging: Carved Cross - Sapped of Strength, Left to Wither and Fade Away

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


15517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks TheSpirit, appreciated.

FullOfSounds
November 5th 2016


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review

HinkHall
November 5th 2016


156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is my least favorite Breaking Benjamin album, but great review nevertheless.

FullOfSounds
November 5th 2016


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

My least favorite too, a lot of the songwriting feels lazy

pizzamachine
November 5th 2016


14228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's a good album. :]

VaxXi
November 5th 2016


4409 Comments


We Are Not Alone is still me favorite

FullOfSounds
November 5th 2016


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Phobia

HinkHall
November 5th 2016


156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^ Hell yeah, man. Phobia was basically my childhood.

VaxXi
November 5th 2016


4409 Comments


we are not alone has break my fall so....

Rik VII
November 5th 2016


3898 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, Phobia is easily the best for me too. Unknown Soldier alone is reason enough for that

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


15517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saturate is my favourite (just), followed closely by this. However, Phobia is closer to my heart and I have a lot of nostalgic memories for it.

William21
November 5th 2016


455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Honestly it's pretty difficult to go wrong with these guys imo

Valkoor952
November 5th 2016


2704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man I had such a big period with this band like 2-3 years ago.

ashcrash9
November 5th 2016


3081 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

band lost me with this one

first 3 are still worth a jam every now and then

solid review

Drifter
November 5th 2016


16008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think this was their worst.

Shallow Bay > Saturate >WANA > Phobia > DBD > Dear Agony

Good review though



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