Sound — 9
For your latest DVD fix of Breaking Benjamin, you'll have to look to the release of the band's CD Phobia. Along with the regular CD track list found on the original release back from August 2006, fans are now treated to a limited edition DVD. While the bonus DVD is pretty much your basic live performance, the songs sound impeccable -- at times better than the recorded versions. The Phobia DVD features 15 tracks in the live show, which was shot at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The band sounds just as strong on stage as they do in the studio, a credit to their ability to translate their work from a recording to the stage. The songs featured in the DVD span the length of the band's existence, so even those who didn't find Phobia as interesting as earlier works are likely to find a few jewels in the bonus DVD. One of the standout tracks is Topless, which showcases some fantastic guitar grooves and vocalist Ben Burnley's versatility. It stands out a bit more because of it's energy and faster tempo, but even a lower-key song like The Diary Of Jane has an impact. One of Breaking Benjamin's greatest strengths is creating a mood with each song, and they do it rather effortlessly. It's actually in the darker, somewhat slower tracks that the band is able to relay the most emotion. When you look at the audience members singing along passionately to songs like The Diary Of Jane, it's evident that the band is making a connection. Mixing-wise, the DVD manages to elude some of the problems that other bands run into when putting together a live video. It's rare that you're able to hear a good balance of all the instruments on a DVD, but Breaking Benjamin have pulled it off with this one. That's probably one of the best aspects about the DVD, and the sound systems never distract away from the performance. The clarity is exceptional in So Cold, and you can actually hear layers that were somewhat covered up in the studio recording.
Content — 8
Because this DVD is somewhat of a bonus in itself (an extra to the CD), it's probably not right to get too picky if it doesn't have as many extras as you might be used to. It may not live up to a lot of other DVDs out there in terms of behind-the-scenes material, but fans should still enjoy the 15-song live show. With a songlist that includes Breakdown, Until The End, So Cold, and Evil Angel, it's a well-rounded overview of the Breaking Benjamin's material. The band may not be the most charismatic onstage, but the music stays strong for the entire performance.
Production Quality — 8
Rather than using fancy video equipment or artsy camera shots, the band has chosen a pretty straightforward way to shoot the DVD. That actually works to the band's advantage, allowing viewers to get clean shots of the guitar playing and general facial expressions. The vast majority of shots are of Burnley singing, but again, that helps express a bit more of the emotions behind the songs. Most importantly, the audio is flawless on the DVD and that's half of the battle in live performances.
Overall Impression — 8
As DVDs go, the Phobia limited edition bonus material might not blow everyone out of the water. It really does have more of a CD listening feel about it at times, and that's a compliment to the band's consistent quality onstage. It doesn't necessarily make for the most interesting video footage when compared with a lot of bands out there, but there is a strong setlist to make up for any shortcomings in the video portion. The DVD is really meant as a gift of sorts to the dedicated fans out there, and the band's devotees will undoubtedly be satisfied.