Sound — 8
Breaking Benjamin's previous two albums, Saturate and We Are Not Alone, seemed to go for a heavy, rocky feel overall. Sure, they threw in an occasional acoustic, mid-tempo tune(ex: Next to Nothing, Rain), but overall the albums were chock full of heavy riffs accompanied by Ben Burnley's soaring vocals and occasional growls. On the band's third album, Phobia, the band has gone for a much more melodic, dark feel. Burnley's growls that were found on previous albums are mostly left out of the picture, and while the heavy, down-tuned riffs are still present, they don't stand out nearly as much as they did on the band's previous albums. The band even throws in some piano on a few songs to add to the album's darker overall feel. Overall, I feel that the more melodic style that the band goes for on this album is a great improvement. The instruments on this album are effective in really drawing you in to the music. Also, Burnley's voice sounds better than ever. It's much more clear and distinctive than it was before. However, a few of the latter tracks on the album start to sound very similar. Sure, the melodic tunes are broken up occasionally by the rockers "Diary of Jane" and "Topless"(the latter hails from the old days of Saturate"), but the album seems to get a bit repetitive towards the end. But, this isn't really enough to keep the album from being a very enjoyable listen overall.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics, while they're not much different from other alternative rock lyrics out there, are where I see the most improvement from the band. As I stated earlier, this album has a much darker feel than their previous albums. This is partially due to the fact that the lyrics are much more mature. I thought that the lyrics in the band's other albums got kind of generic at times, but I felt that the lyrics were much better written than before. The overall lyrics and sound work exceptionally well in giving the album a much more atmospheric feel.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, I love this album. Personally, I felt that the band's previous albums had their moments (Next To Nothing, Forever, and So Cold are a few of my favorite songs ever), but I felt that the albums had too many filler songs. I found a few gems in the bunch of songs, but overall there were a lot of songs that I didn't care much for at all. But when I heard "Diary of Jane" on the internet, it became one of my favorite songs and I thought that the new album might turn out pretty dang good. I was highly anticipating this album and I was not dissapointed one bit. I Love this CD. I only found a few songs on this album that I thought were alright. None of the songs I thought were bad at all. I really like how the band has matured greatly with this album, especially with the lyrics. My favorite songs are Evil Angel, Breath, Dance with the Devil, You Fight Me, and of course The Diary Of Jane. As for whether or not previous fans will like it, I think the new sound on this album will do one of two things. You'll either love this album and appreciate how the band has grown and matured, or you will be let down and yearn for the old Breaking Benjamin. I, however, am a new fan.