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Breaking Benjamin – “Dear Agony” (2009) February 17, 2010

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2009, Breaking Benjamin.
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Written by Andrew Hart

So Breaking Benjamin finally screwed up, their latest album Dear Agony being a colossal failure on the part of a band that has screamed consistency for the better part of eight years now.  How you say?  Well, it took three years to release Dear Agony after 2006’s Phobia, as opposed to the usual two.  Quality-wise it is still very good though, I can guarantee this.  In fact, Dear Agony has enough moments of classic Breaking Benjamin mixed with a little bit of new stuff, that it may be the best part in a well-oiled Breaking Benjamin catalog.

Per usual, I’ll mention the instantly accessible opener, “Fade Away.”  Breaking Benjamin has developed a reputation for hooks, and this song is no exception.  Dare I say, it’s one of the only songs on this album that makes good on the promise of strong, easily noticeable tracks.  Something about the cool and mellow way frontman Ben Burnley coos out the opening words just pulls the listener right into a hard-hitting Breaking Ben song of old.  It’s not as powerful as past openers like “So Cold” and “Diary of Jane” but it still does it’s part in kicking off the disc right.

As mentioned though, hooks on Dear Agony are hard to come by.  Though first single “I Will Not Bow” is fun and catchy too, most of the album lacks these big standouts.  This can be interpreted as good or bad, and I’ll call it good since Breaking Benjamin seems to be playing around with their other skills more on this album, trying to make strides from the usual write-catchy-radio-friendly-rock formula.  Listen to songs like “Crawl” and “Hopeless” and you’re treated to some classic guttural screams from Burnley, a rare treat on the last few albums.  Meanwhile, “Anthem of the Angels” and “Without You” toy with beautiful string arrangements, creating incredibly immersive songs through atmosphere alone.  Dear Agony may take more time to process than some albums, but it’s worth it to dive into some of these great songs.

All that said though, Breaking Benjamin has failed at one thing they’ve been good at their whole career, memorability.  Sure, it’s hard to forget the moment in “I Will Now Bow” when the drumming breaks down to a whole new level, or the ending seconds of “Without You” when Ben screams “I forgive you, forget you, the end,” leading into a slow, smooth outro, but there’s a lot of Dear Agony that just blends together.  “Into The Nothing” and “Lights Out” practically bleed into one another towards the end of the disc, unusual due to their separation by the title track.  Breaking Benjamin essentially shifts between ballad and rocker through the whole disc, but the formula wears out it’s welcome by the end, nearly spoiling the beauty of the title track’s uplifting chorus.

Minor gripes aside, every song on Dear Agony is a great listen.  Some like “Lights Out” are good for just that and little else, while others will be stuck in your brain for hours on end.  This album is without a doubt worthy of the Breaking Benjamin catalog, but these few flaws may make the band question if the experimentation of the disc was worth it.  The answer is a definitive yes, as unconventional Breaking Benjamin tracks such as “Without You” and “Dear Agony” are more than worth the price of the album, and make this one go down as smooth as any album of 2009.

8 out of 10 – Download “Without You”

Breaking Benjamin is | Benjamin Burnley – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar | Aaron Fink – Guitar | Mark Klepaski – Bass | Chad Szeliga – Drums


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Comments»

1. Bleedmusic - February 18, 2010

Good review. Cool site. I would give ‘Dear Agony’ a 9/10 overall. ‘Dear Agony’, ‘Give Me A Sign’, and ‘Crawl’ are my favorite songs.

My order of B.B. albums go:
1. Saturate 10/10
2. Phobia 10/10
3. We Are Not Alone 10/10
4. Dear Agony 9/10

2. BuRn7 - February 19, 2010

As a huge fan of Breaking Benjamin. I personally find this album to be their 2nd best. Phobia was lacking screaming. It was lacking it pretty hard. It was there. But it wasn’t as huge as it was on previous albums. With Dear Agony, they seemed to mix up the sounds of all three albums into one. They did a great job with the album, and ever since I bought it, I have not sat it down. I’ve listened to it for a good 50 times already. I haven’t gotten sick of it yet.

I’d rank them:
Saturate
Dear Agony
We Are Not Alone
Phobia

3. Bleedmusic - February 19, 2010

I think I like Phobia so much for the lyrics. And I think that they are just all great songs. I do miss the screaming of course; I mean, that is partly why I love Saturate so much. I do play ‘Dear Agony’ a lot! It’s weird, I play it more then the others and think I always will but overall, I still feel its a 9/10. Very, very close to a 9.5/10 but ‘Without You’ and ‘Anthem Of The Angels’ bring this album down a whole point to a 9 for me. Still, an amazing band. I am already anticipating a new album, and I’m nervous with B.B. because I always think they are done. Maybe because Ben seems so…Idk, just unpredictable.


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