Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Agony

"Into the nothing, faded and weary, I wont leave and let you fall behind. Live for the dying, Heaven hear me, I know we can make it out alive." That is one of my all time favorite lyrics from East Coast based outfit, Breaking Benjamin. The lyrics come from the song "Into the Nothing" from my favorite Benjamin album and latest release, Dear Agony. The album was released back in 2009 but I feel it deserves some recognition. This album takes on a more intimate and softer turn and is a genius album from start to finish. Their previous albums were more of a harder edge compared to this album but don't be disappointed for this album still promises to give you a rock punch. Personally this album is more on the alternative side whilst their older releases were more of a hard rock tone. Breaking Benjamin were formed back in 1998 in the quiet town of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The name Breaking Benjamin came from Lead Singer Ben Burnley's days as a solo performer. Ben performed a Nirvana cover and accidentally broke the venue owner's microphone, thus coming up with the name of the band, Breaking Benjamin. To this day Breaking Benjamin have released 4 studio albums and earlier this year released a greatest-hits album entitled Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin. Breaking Benjamin has had their share of band members and are currently a 2 person band due to the departure
of former members Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski. Now Breaking Benjamin consists of founding member Ben Burnley and later member Chad Szeliga. Chad Szeliga also drums for the famous metal band, Black Label Society. Similar bands to Breaking Benjamin include Three Days Grace, Skillet, Trapt, Papa Roach, Seether, 3 Doors Down,
Crossfade, Shinedown, and Sick Puppies. To this day Breaking Benjamin have sold over 5 million albums in the US alone.

Dear Agony has been a very good listen for me. Since the day the album was released I fell in love with it and I always listen to the album while driving or on my break at
work, at a gathering, or pretty much whenever I feel like listening to it. The album contains 11 full length songs and are all lyrically motivating, emotional and inspirational.
Upon being released on iTunes, Dear Agony reached the top ten charts witihin days after its release. It is really hard to filter out my top 3 songs but personally the tracks,
"Anthem of the Angels", "Lights Out", and "Into the Nothing" would have to be my top 3 favorite tracks off the album. "Anthem of the Angels" is definitely more of a softer
emotional theme. Lyrics such as "Days go on forever, but i have not left your side. We can chase the dark together, if you go, then so will I", are very unique and touching.
After thinking for a while I think the song is trying to take a bit of a Religious direction. "Lights Out" is somewhat of a satisfying song for those of us who have to deal with
troublesome people and those who are always dragging us down. This song also is one of the more harder tracks off Dear Agony. "Now you want to take me down as if I even 
care. I am the monster in your head, and I thought you learned by now, it seems you haven't yet. I am the venom in your skin and now your life is broken." Lyrics such as 
that definitely prove why Breaking Benjamin has one of the most intelligent and creative lyrics. "Into the Nothing" also has one of the greatest lyrics. "Ill keep you inside. Where I lead you cannot follow. Straight into the light, as my breath grows still and shallow." That really says it all. It does not get more direct and inspirational than that. In the past I really did not appreciate lyrical analogies, themes or messages but this album has opened my eyes to see that an album not only can be good instrumentally, but also by creating ingenious lyrics. Lyrics are a huge theme in this album and pretty much in all of Breaking Benjamin's songs. They really mean their lyrics and always try to send out a postive message to their fans. 

I have seen Breakin Benjamin perform live on a few occasions and they also deliver outstanding performances. They really get the crowd jumping and into the music. The only complaint I have for the album is the fact that guitar solos are not present in any of the songs but that is pretty common in most alternative songs. They always play at least one cover of a famous song and have payed homage to musics greatest legends such as Johnny Cash, Pantera Guitarist Dimebag Darrell, Queen, Michael Jackson, Alice In Chains, Depeche Mode and Cyndi Lauper just to name a few. Chicago is one of Breaking Benjamin's favorite cities to play and according to Burnley, "Chicago has a place in my heart." Unfortunately all the good news has to come to a temporary stop due to the announcement of the band's indefinite hiatus. This is in response to lead man, Ben Burnley's illnesses. For the time being we will have to enjoy their current releases and no plans for a future album have been decided.Their fanbase is of a very intimate one and their fanbase is full of die hard people. I listened to them on occasion in the past along with my other music but after being exposed to this album, Breaking Benjamin stands out in my music collection. I will always be a fan of this group and to end with my own quote, "This album has a place in my heart."


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