Dark Before Dawn Review

artist: Breaking Benjamin date: 07/09/2015 category: compact discs
Breaking Benjamin: Dark Before Dawn
Released: Jun 23, 2015
Genre: Alternative Metal
Label: Hollywood
Number Of Tracks: 12
The band's first album in six years, "Dark Before Dawn" includes only one member who was in the band for their previous album - frontman and founding member, Benjamin Burnley.
 Sound: 7
 Lyrics: 7.3
 Overall Impression: 7.7
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reviews (3) pictures (1) 35 comments vote for this album:
overall: 6.7
Dark Before Dawn Featured review by: UG Team, on june 29, 2015
4 of 9 people found this review helpful

Sound: Breaking Benjamin formed in 1998, in Pennsylvania. There were several lineup changes throughout the band's history, though the most dramatic occurred because of the release of the greatest hits album, "Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin," which was released by the other members of the band without Benjamin Burnley's sign off. Benjamin responded by firing Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski and suing them for monetary damages, as well as for the legal rights the name Breaking Benjamin. The current members of the band were recruited for the new album in 2014. Aaron Bruch (bass, backing vocals), Keith Wallen (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Jason Rauch (lead guitar), and Shaun Foist (drums and programming) joined Benjamin Burnley in the lineup and each recorded their parts on the album, though the album was almost exclusively written by Burnley before he had completed bringing new members into the fold. "Dark Before Dawn" includes 12 tracks and has a runtime of approximately 42 minutes. Three singles have been released preceding the album release - "Failure" was released as the lead single in March, "Angels Fall" was released as the second single in April, and "Defeated" was released in May. The album doesn't sound significantly different from Breaking Benjamin's previous albums, with the biggest difference being the backing vocals are noticeably better than on previous releases.

The album opens up with the track, "Dark," which is predominantly built around creating an ambience - it is just over 2 minutes, and doesn't really have any lyrics, just some sampled audio and some "aahs" for the vocals. The lead single, "Failure" is the next track up, which opens up with a twisty little hard rock riff, which reminds me of some older Papa Roach for some reason I can't quit put my finger on. The lyrics are somewhere between abstract and narrative, and tell an interesting story. Next up is the second single from the album, "Angels Fall," which (at parts) reminds me very strongly of "Save Yourself" by Stabbing Westward. Ultimately, what sets this song apart from "Save Yourself" is that it is less enthusiastic and has an adult contemporary vibe to it. "Breaking the Silence" is the next track up, and this is a heavier song than previous tracks on the album. The heavier backing vocals on this track are one of the key elements that set this apart from other tracks. "Hollow" has a riff that is somewhat reminiscent of the riff I remarked on from the single, "Failure." "Close to Heaven" reminds me a little bit of a Queen song - "Who Wants to Live Forever" in parts. It is hard for new music, especially with rock and hard rock, to avoid sounding derivative of other existing rock and hard rock, but I find several places on this album where that is too close to the surface. In Breaking Benjamin's defense, the song does take some turns and doesn't stay in that vibe for the entire track on "Close to Heaven" - it actually gets a little bit better during parts of the second half of the song. "Bury Me Alive" has a few moments where it sounds a little bit like 311, but it passes pretty quickly - this song actually has a lot of potential, and I'm betting it is killer when played live. "Never Again" does some interesting things with how it builds up, and what is going on with the lead guitar with the track. "The Great Divide" is probably my favorite track on the album, just based on the way the verses are handled. There are a few things that go on during the choruses, and briefly when the rhythm is kind of going back and doing the same type of riffing from "Failure" and "Hollow," which detract from the song. "Ashes of Eden" is a slower, quieter love song, but in a lot of ways it reminds me of a pop punk love song if it was played in a minor key. Next up, we have the single, "Defeated," which is a slower track and more of a ballad about no longer being defeated, etc. The album closes out with the track, "Dawn," which is mostly centered around creating a certain ambience, much like the track "Dark" that opens the album. I'm not completely happy with two of the tracks essentially being devoted to just bookending the album. They were okay, and I actually enjoyed them musically, but they're too short to think of as songs and should have either been fleshed out, or built into the surrounding songs. Also, there were too many moments that were too obviously derivative of other existing popular music. // 6

Lyrics: Benjamin Burnley is still running the show, or even more so now than on previous releases. His vocals are still definitely on par with their earlier releases, but his support on backing vocals from Aaron Bruch and Keith Wallen help to push the vocals to the next level. The vocals used on the album are probably over 95% clean vanilla vocals, but that just helps add emphasis when screaming, or even very occasional weird processing, are used for the vocals. The lyrics tend to gravitate somewhere between narrative and abstract. As a sample of the album lyrics, here are some lyrics from the track, "Life will come our way/ It has only just begun/ The world will die alone/ The frail will fall below/ Time will take our place/ We return it back to one/ The calm before the cold/ The long and lonely road/ Look for the light that leads me home/ Tired of feeling lost, tired of letting go/ Tear the whole world down, tear the whole world down/ Failure." // 7

Overall Impression: I have to be honest - I was excited about this album. I was excited because this was the first album from Breaking Benjamin in years, and I had nothing but high expectations from the new members. There were no specific big let downs from any one member or their performance, but the end products just weren't working for me, except for a few moments here and there, and a few complete songs. "The Great Divide" was definitely my favorite track on the album. // 7

- Brandon East (c) 2015

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overall: 6
Dark Before Dawn Reviewed by: Fatewhip, on june 30, 2015
3 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 6

Lyrics: 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. // 6

Overall Impression: 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. // 6

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overall: 9.3
Dark Before Dawn Reviewed by: damonfinegan2, on july 09, 2015
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well, its been six long awaited years since "Dear Agony," but I think true fans of Breaking Benjamin were elated to hear that their own Agony was over. The band was back together and a new album awaited them in June 2015. When I first heard "Failure," I could tell this was gonna be a great record. When it finally released, and I got my hands on the album (because early streaming on iTunes is crap, mainly because I don't have one) I couldn't believe my ears.

"Dark" is an amazing way to start the album. No doubt as I said in my "Failure" review that Ben was in a "Phobia" kind of mood. An intro and outro ("Dawn"). I laughed when I saw that on the track listing. "Angels Fall" sort of was a relaxing tune while still being the anthem it is. "Breaking the Silence" is by far one of my favorites of the album. Hollow I can relate to so I really like it. "Close to Heaven" is the one song on this album I don't like. I just can't dig it like the others. "Bury Me Alive" for some reason reminded me of Marilyn Manson. The verses mainly. "Never Again" is a real good stand up for what's right anthem to me. "The Great Divide" is like "Close to Heaven" but I still love it. "Ashes of Eden" is by far my favorite BB song of all time. "Defeated" is like "Failure" only more positive than "Failure" actually is. I heard Ben explain "Dawn" was created around his son (Ben V)'s heartbeat and he and his wife sing on it. A nice family song to end an overall impressive comeback. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics of DBD are about the same as we've heard on the last two albums ("Phobia" and "Dear Agony"), but still he manages to find a way to keep each song different than that which followed before it. I really am truly amazed. As a songwriter myself, I admire someone like Ben who writes basically the same song over and over and still makes a quality sounding album with that. Now while the album is a tad overproduced, it still makes up with the fact that Keith and Aaron sing on the album, a first for Breaking Benjamin, because as we all know, no one but Ben prior to this new incarnation sung for the band. That is why their live performances would usually feel kind of weak is the fact that they didn't have anyone singing other than Ben. // 9

Overall Impression: The album as a whole I will admit it does sound pretty repetitive, but at that, Ben has stated numerous times he writes what he feels will attract old and new fans alike, and to be honest, there is truth behind that. I got into Breaking Benjamin while playing "Halo 2" with "Blow Me Away." That was in 2009, shortly after "Dear Agony" came out. I listened to all of their stuff (via YouTube) and haven't stopped listening. When I heard DBD was announced (although no name was given at the time) I could hardly keep to myself. And to be honest, I think that I'm not the only one. 140,000+ sales first week for a band away for 6 years? Haters better silence. Breaking Benjamin just broke it. // 10

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