Breaking Benjamin – We Are Not Alone (CD)

While I was expecting Breaking Benjamin to sound like every other modern-rock band out there, with threads in their music that whole-heartedly ripped off bands like Tool and Disturbed, the fact with “We Are Not Alone” is that the disc is on the whole much more melodic than anything that has came before it. Theb and is tight, musically-satisfying, and the dynamic between Aaron (lead guitar) and the smooth-down-easy vocals of Ben can’t be any more tight than it is on “We Are Not Alone”. In fact, Breaking Benjamin is a Frankenstein’s monster, mixing the best of what is popular in rock with emo, culminating in tracks like “Firefly”. Ben’s vocals have hints of poodle-boy from Nickelback and Ryan from Yellowcard, and they work well with the deep-end provided on “We Are Not Alone” by Markus (bass) and Jeremy (drums). Each track on “We Are Not Alone” is a completely different exercise for the band, forming a part of a well-balanced workout that leaves this Pennsylvania band built and svelte.

Breaking Benjamin has gotten the shaft in the sense that they first got their notoriety for “Polyamorous”, a paint-by-numbers track whose soul purpose was to piggyback off the rock revival of the time. “We Are Not Alone” is a much more solid album, introspective but also extroverted in its execution. Each track is incredibly radio friendly, and yet musically fulfilling enough that even the most dorky of metal, rock, or emo fans will find some thing to latch onto. Each guitar line on “We Are Not Alone” is ultimately put down only for effect – there is no extra noodling or wasting of time, and Ben and Aaron make sure to let the guitars do the most in terms of speaking with the fewest chords.

Even when Breaking Benjamin is reciting nothing more than a nursery rhyme (“Rain”), the way in which they arrange it is heartbreakingly beautiful. “Rain” is if the Beatles were emotional, Aaron Lewis wasn’t so fake, and Yellowcard wasn’t now such an AOR band. In fact, there is simply not a better way to end off “We Are Not Alone”, and the melodramatic sadness felt on “Rain” is the perfect winding down of a journey that takes us soaring with Ben’s vocals as much as it takes down into the dirty and slimy depths of Jeremy’s drums. Breaking Benjamin is right up there with lostprophets for the most sold of the mall-rock bands, and time will only tell whether or not they can maintain that.

Top Tracks: Firefly, Rain

Rating: 6.3/10

Breaking Benjamin – We Are Not Alone / 11 Tracks / 2004 Hollywood Records / http://www.breakingbenjamin.com / http://www.hollywoodrecords.com / Reviewed 23 July 2004

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