Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Dark Before Dawn, the fifth album from Breaking Benjamin. After about six years, the band is back with highly anticipated new material.
In green is my opinion. I am quite familiar with Breaking Benjamin’s newer material. It was actually Robert who introduced them to me years ago!
In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He discovered Breaking Benjamin through Halo, and he considers them to be one of his top five favorite bands.
Let’s start our track-by-track review!
If you have ever been to Outback Steakhouse, you are probably familiar with the Bloomin’ Onion. The Bloomin’ Onion is a massive arrangement of deep-fried onion that is offered as an appetizer. This opening track is essentially the Bloomin’ Onion, as it is a substantial piece that builds anticipation for the main course. Dark is comprised of raw drumming, intense vocalization, and curious electronic noises. This suspenseful song opens up the album with intrigue.
Breaking Benjamin starts off the album with Dark, an all-instrumental song. It is an interesting mix of sounds that sets the listener up for the rest of the album.
Failure is classic Breaking Benjamin at its finest. The guitar is still loud, the chorus is still tight, and the vocals are still layered. The brief guitar solo that inserts itself into Failure is a real treat that sounds wicked, adding flare to an otherwise straightforward song. Failure marks the revival of Breaking Benjamin, stating the band is back and they are ready to pick up where they left off.
Failure, the first single to be released by the band since their hiatus, is a song that sounds like classic Breaking Benjamin. The more and more I listen to Failure, the more I love it! You will get hooked to it right away. It has been stuck in my head for weeks because of how catchy it is.
Angels Fall is an ice cube on a warm day. It is a refreshing track that is neither overbearing nor soft. Angels Fall is simply pleasant.
Angels Fall starts off with an intro that reminds me of Blow Me Away, the song that got me into the band. I love the tempo of this song and how it is not as heavy compared to the band’s other songs. I also love Ben’s vocals on this track.
Breaking the Silence
Breaking the Silence is a disgusting feat that is hard, angry, and heavy. The guitar riff is nasty, the vocal melody has a fantastic Middle Eastern vibe, and the growling is hardcore. Breaking the Silence is off the rails and engaging. I enjoy the heck out of this sledgehammer of a song.
Breaking the Silence starts off heavy and stays that way. In this song, we get some awesome screaming vocals along with a sick guitar riff. This is the sound I have been missing for years, and my ears are happy to hear it again. If you love metal, Breaking the Silence is the perfect song for you.
Hollow is a cool song, though it does not peak until it nears its end, at which point a dirty riff takes over and a solo kicks in, raising the energy of the song to a whole new level. The ending riff bears resemblance to Linkin Park’s Hit the Floor, which explains why it sounds so heavy. The riveting solo bit at the end of the track is simply kickass. Hollow is a satisfying track that explodes at its conclusion.
Hollow starts fast and shows no signs of slowing down. The band hits with the vintage BB sound that we love, and I am completely fine with that. What caught my attention with Hollow was the fact that we hear a little guitar solo near the end of the song. It is very rare to hear a solo like that from this band and now I crave more of it. This track sounds like it could be off of the band’s previous album, Dear Agony.
Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven is a song that begins as a Middle Eastern-styled simmer and morphs into a dramatic release. Close to Heaven is the glorious result of calculated patience paired with fresh vocal melodies. Because Breaking Benjamin slowed down a bit, the music and the melodies resonated with more depth. Close to Heaven is an epic track that can be considered one of the gems of the album. It stands out among the pack.
Close to Heaven is the oddball of the album for me, as it sounds a bit different from the other songs. The song showcases what Ben is capable of doing with his vocals, which is especially nice for the new listeners, but other than the vocals, I am not a big fan of this song. It is not bad, but it is not great either.
Bury Me Alive
Bury Me Alive sounds like a scrapped take of Breaking the Silence. It offers hard guitar and aggressive growling, as does Breaking the Silence, yet this song features less energy and less ingenuity. Bury Me Alive should have been omitted from the album, as it does not present anything new. Overall, it is a fine song but it is no special snowflake.
The beginning of Bury Me Alive reminds me of another song by the band, though I cannot remember which one. I love how heavy this song is with the loud guitar and Ben’s powerful vocals. Old time fans will likely grow to love this song, though I feel as if the tempo should be faster.
Never Again is a positive song that still manages to retain a subtle moodiness. Skewed guitar accents add a grim layer to the track, making it all the more intriguing. While these accents are played sparingly and are mere nuances, they still manage to increase the individuality of the track. Never Again is a passionate song that does well for itself. In the end, it is no giant.
Never Again hits you hard right after Bury Me Alive. After carefully listening to the lyrics, I find it to be an uplifting song. I feel like this song has a strong meaning or story behind it, and I am always a fan of songs that tell a story. Once again, the track’s sound is nothing new from the band, but as I have said previously, I am okay with that. Breaking Benjamin has always had a great sound so there is no need to try to change it, especially after being gone for 6 years.
The Great Divide
The Great Divide doesn’t do it for me. The seemingly pleasant lyrics are washed out by electric guitar. For a moment in the song, an acoustic guitar replaces the electric as if someone in the band realized that this song would be much more cohesive without the loud noise. This results in a small segment of the song being enjoyable. I cannot help but wonder why the band decided to take this song in a heavy direction. The vocal melodies were solid, but the guitar and all-out drumming tainted the Great Divide. I would love to hear an acoustic cut of this track, however.
The Great Divide has a sick drum beat that made me think I was going to get some awesome heavy metal song. Sadly, I was wrong. Just like Angels Fall, it is not as fast or as hard as other songs on the album. At least the guitars still hit hard! The Great Divide is still a decent song despite its reservation.
Ashes of Eden
Ashes of Eden is built upon beautiful guitar-playing. Easily the most relaxed song of the album, Ashes of Eden contains delicate violin, passionate (albeit modified) vocals, and conservative drumming. Ashes of Eden is a unique track that offers a refreshing change of pace from the louder songs that define Breaking Benjamin. This may be one of the few songs that calls for lighters to be cracked at a Breaking Benjamin concert. I enjoyed Ashes of Eden, although it could have benefit from less repetition in the lyrics.
Hold the phone. We aren’t getting smacked with hard riffs, loud drums, or heavy singing? Instead, we get a calm, soft song called Ashes of Eden. This song is just beautiful! I love the softer-sounding instruments along with Ben’s soft vocals, which show how great of a vocalist he is. The lyrics are also powerful. My only complaint is that the song should have been longer. Unless you cannot stand soft rock or softer songs, Ashes of Eden will be a song that you will enjoy.
Defeated features a gnarly guitar riff that is sure to pump up the listener. This track is solid, delivering Breaking Benjamin’s signature sound and concluding the album on an uplifting note. Breaking Benjamin began this record with a song titled “Failure” and ending with the lyric “no longer defeated.” I think it is safe to say that Breaking Benjamin is back.
We go from soft to the exact opposite. With a song title like “Defeated,” I expected a song about self-struggle and a person trying to fight through it. This song delivers that message exactly. I can see Defeated being used in fantasy movies or video games when the main hero is trying to defeat the main enemy/boss, such as the evil emperor or dragon. I just wish the song was not so repetitive.
Dawn is an ambient track that is a welcome comedown from the heaviness that previously transpired. I enjoy ambiance when it has feeling. After all, it is easy to make noise and call it psychedelic. Dawn succeeds because it has emotion and cohesion behind it. With Dawn serving as the cherry on top, Dark Before Dawn comes full circle with this satisfying little track.
Dusk started off the album and now Dawn ends it. The guitar in this track is pretty and reminds me of the soft intro to Metallica’s One. Dark is an interesting track to end the album, but I like it because of its soothing nature. After six years, Breaking Benjamin gives us a wonderful album to be happy about. The band resisted being sucked into the mainstream trap and stuck to their roots. Many people may hate the fact that they did not change their sound, but why would they change it when they know their fans still crave their old sounds? Thank you, BB, for sticking to your roots. It was well worth the 6 year wait! Thank you all for reading. We’ll see you next time!
My Top 3
Breaking the Silence
Close to Heaven
Rob’s Top 3
Breaking the Silence
Ashes of Eden
Dark Before Dawn marks the successful return of Breaking Benjamin. The album is warmly familiar, a safe yet satisfying installment in Breaking Benjamin’s discography. Dark Before Dawn is a solid T-Bone that is sure to please fans and impress those who are just getting to know the band. Pop a bottle of champagne and have yourself a Bloomin’ Onion. Breaking Benjamin has returned.