Sound — 6
After six years, the American alternative metal outfit Breaking Benjamin is back with a vengeance with their new album "Dark Before Dawn." And while the lineup has completely changed with the exception of Benjamin Burnley (the frontman), the sound has yet to change. This is impressive in some ways, yet in others it may spell "bored" for some people. One new thing about Breaking Benjamin this time around is that they now have three guitar players in the band. However, not once do you hear the band make use of this additional guitar. A casual listener would never even notice the addition. This leads me to believe that the supplementary guitarist is there just for convenience during live shows.
Speaking of the new lineup, the band now consists of Jasen Rauch (from the band Red) and Keith Wallen (former guitarist of Adelitas Way) on the guitars, Shaun Foist on drums, Aaron Bruch on bass, and of course Benjamin Burnley performing the vocals and also on guitar. Despite the unused potential, the guitar work is standard Breaking Benjamin. While the riffs are not impressive compared to metal giants like Metallica or Megadeth, they certainly compare to bands in the same genre such as Red, Three Days Grace, and Skillet. And while they don't break the curve, they're sure to satisfy. However, they are more few and far between than the riffs on "Dear Agony," and most of the time, constant power chords are all you'll hear. Also, something surprising about the album is that the singles aren't half as powerful as the singles for "Dear Agony" were. While "Failure" is a good single, I think a more aggressive song like "Breaking the Silence" would have been a better lead single. Pointless pondering aside, don't judge the album by the singles.
The album captures a lot of atmosphere much like their last album "Dear Agony." Adding to that, the clever track listing has "Dark" as the opening track and "Dawn" as the closing track, both being instrumental. Another similarity between "Dark Before Dawn" and "Dear Agony" would be the large number of power ballads. "Angels Fall," "Hollow," and "Close to Heaven" all have traces of ballads in them. Ben's voice is as great as ever on this record; the singing is definitely above average when compared to other bands in the genre. Yet the harsh vocals that make an appearance here and there on the album are still showcasing the same range as they were on Breaking Benjamin's first album "Saturate." It's hard to forgo comparing the progress of each style of vocalization throughout Breaking Benjamin's existence. While Ben's cleans have certainly gotten better through the years, the harsh vocals have shown little to no improvement. The screamed vocals are not bad by any means, but it would be nice to hear more of a range on the next few albums.
Lyrics — 6
Another note on the subject of redundancy, the lyrics are somewhat recycled. It might have just been the band wanting to stick lines from the previous album into "Dark Before Dawn," but nevertheless, there are identical lines of lyrics copy pasted from "Dear Agony" to "Dark Before Dawn." Examples would include the line "We all fall down" appearing in "Defeated" that was used in "Without You," and "light the way and let me go" that appears in "Bury Me Alive" that was previously used in the title track of "Dear Agony."
Despite this, the lyrics help shape the feel of the album, and reiterate emotions very well. They complement the music well, and the same could be said vice versa. "I'll keep my sights on a waking dream / I gave my life to the vile beneath / I am but one of a dying breed / pain kills this world but it won't kill me"- a few lines of lyrics from "Breaking the Silence." (A funny title since the band's been inactive for 6 years.)
If you've ever listened through a Breaking Benjamin album before, you'll feel at home with these lyrics. Whether or not "at home" is a euphemism for "they'll bore you because they've been done over and over" is up to you. However, nevertheless, moreover, all transitioning words aside, the lyrics are in good hands with the voice of Benjamin Burnley.
Overall Impression — 6
Listening through the album, it seems to go by fast even though it's a moderately sized album (it's 42 minutes long). You can sit and listen to this album and by the time it's over you'll be surprised by how fast it's gone by. It stacks up in comparison to other bands listed as "alt-metal" rather well, and if it were lost I'd at least replace it. The best songs to be on the lookout for are "Hollow," "Breaking the Silence," and "Bury Me Alive." Overall, I like that Breaking Benjamin is back. And although they could have come back with a stronger album, "Dark Before Dawn" is certainly good enough to satisfy the vast amounts of fans of this band that had gone into hibernation. If you've never heard Breaking Benjamin and you listen to any of the other bands listed in the review, there's a good chance you'll like this. On the other hand, if you listen to anything with the adjective "progressive" in the title, you most likely won't like this. Unless you get bored of people trying so hard not to bore you and need to tone it down every now and then. The biggest weakness of the album is the unused potential. If they began to actually use that third guitarist, it could really make their sound much better. What "Dark Before Dawn" gets right is the feel. The album flows very nicely and showcases atmosphere and ambience at they're best.