Breaking Benjamin was one of the first bands that I completely fell in love with. From the beginning, I had to collect all of their albums and dive into their music. I was hooked. When I heard that Benjamin Burnley had pieced the band back together, my body shook with joy. When news came they had an album dropping soon, I was elated. I wasn’t thrilled with Dark Before Dawn, but it was a step forward. Breaking Ben was back, and they would soon rock the world with some wonderful music.
Naturally, it was difficult to arrange Breaking Benjamin’s albums in any order. Sure, I felt confident in the bottom album, but the top ones were tricky. After much thought and agony, this is my ranking.
It seems I always place a band’s first album in last place. This is almost unfair because I am essentially pitting a young band against a mature band. However, this album lacks the special sheen that graces the rest of the band’s work. The songs are filled with many of the band’s trademarks. The disc is packed with lyrics drenched in angst and crunching guitars. Ben jumps between soaring clean vocals and throaty screams. However, when I listened through the album something was missing. I feel the music is simply less mature and not as well put together as their later work. Seeing that Saturate was Breaking Benjamin’s first record, this seems likely.
Simply because I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with Saturate, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good record. It was, and still is a good album. “Wish I May”, “Home” and “Sugarcoat” are just a few of the good songs featured on Breaking Benjamin’s debut album.
#5 Dark Before Dawn
When I heard about Dark Before Dawn I was happy for the simple fact that Breaking Benjamin was making music again. When I got my copy in the mail, I immediately ripped it to my computer and began listening to it. Unfortunately, upon the first few listen throughs, the tracks blended together. This is the biggest drawback, as it made the album feel stagnate and dull.
Despite my complaints, Dark Before Dawn spawned several good singles. Officially, there are five on the album. Musically, the lead single, “Failure”, was an excellent choice to announce their return. It feels like a classic Breaking Benjamin song. The next few singles were also entertaining and worth investigating. I particularly liked one of the later singles, “Ashes of Eden”.
When I started looking at Breaking Benjamin’s albums there was a clear divide. We Are Not Alone, Phobia and Dear Agony were by far the best albums, while Saturate and Dark Before Dawn weren’t as good. However, as always, organizing the top three is tricky.
#4 We Are Not Alone
In my book, this is the classic Breaking Benjamin album. I was introduced to them with several songs off this album. While many people I’ve talked to were introduced to the band with “The Diary of Jane”, “So Cold” was the first song I heard by them. Thus, this album holds a special place in my music library.
We Are Not Alone is much more radio friendly than Saturate. The guitars are cleaner, the drum track is easy to hear and follow. Ben sings most of the lyrics, although he does deliver some well-placed screams. Despite being ready for mass consumption, this record doesn’t lose some of the darker tones associated with the band. The music is still beautifully moody and gritty.
I would recommend listening to the entire album. Breaking Benjamin seems to make albums that run deep with potential singles. The official singles are good, and certainly worth exploring: “So Cold” “Sooner or Later” and “Rain”, however, the entire album is worth listening to.
“So Cold” is a wonderful song. It serves well from the opening track on the album. “Firefly” and “Simple Design” are also fun tunes. On the later half of the record “Breakdown” is a nice heavy track, despite the slow piano intro. However, “Forget It” is a delightful song. The slower tempo makes it more digestible and appealing to more than just hard rock fans.
Phobia boasts the infamous track that lures most people into listening to Breaking Benjamin: “The Diary of Jane”. However, there are other great tunes on the album, that I feel are better. Also, there are more reasons why this album landed in second place. Musically, Phobia is caked with more grime and gloom that the preceding records. The dark and moody attitude works well for the band. They even continue to employ this gritty approach through the next two albums.
When you mention Breaking Benjamin, a lot of people will mutter something about “The Diary of Jane”. It’s a good song, however, just as with We Are Not Alone I would recommend investigating the entire album. But, if you just want a few highlights, there are a handful of tracks that deserve attention. “Breath” and “Until the End” are the other two singles, and they are worthy to listen through. Both of these songs benefit from the added bleakness Ben has wrapped his lyrics in. “You” is a personal favorite that is enjoyable. It isn’t a particularly speedy or heavy track, rather it stands somewhere in middle, where Breaking Benjamin seems to shine.
With Ember Breaking Benjamin reclaims their throne. This record features the sound and attitude that made the band famous. Ember only dropped with one official single, however, the disc is packed with a number of juicy options that could easily earn this title.
I think this record is on par with Dear Agony, and nearly takes the top place. However, I could not place Ember in the number one spot because the music is less varied. The record is packed with fast hard rock tunes. This isn’t necessarily a problem, however, in the past Breaking Benjamin has featured several wonderful slower tracks on every new album. No matter my small complaint, Ember is worth seeking out and listening to.
It is hard to recommend just a few songs, since they are all great. The lead single, “Red Cold River”, is sure to become a classic. However, “Torn in Two”, “Blood”, “The Dark of You” and “Save Yourself” are all great tunes that will please hard rock and Breaking Benjamin fans.
#1 Dear Agony
Before the release of Ember, Dear Agony felt like the logical conclusion, and end point for Breaking Benjamin’s music. It combines the lovely aspects that had been strewn across the rest of their discs into a single enjoyable record. Dear Agony is dripping with both Ben’s smooth and screaming vocals. The guitars thump and crunch along with yet another alluring drum track. By this point in their career, Breaking Benjamin had stopped adapting their sound because they had perfected it.
As you might have guessed, I would recommend listening to this album in its entirety. Like with most Breaking Benjamin albums, this one had the potential to produce a lot of singles. However, there are only three official singles: “I Will Not Bow”, “Give Me a Sign” and “Lights Out”. Beyond the official singles, I would first recommend the title track, “Dear Agony”. This song is slower, utterly depressing and choking with emotion. Additionally, I would recommend “Anthem of the Angels” and “Hopeless”.