Breaking Benjamin has quickly made their way to number one on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart this week with their fifth album, Dark Before Dawn, which was released on June 23rd. This album is a huge test for the group who, aside from frontman Benjamin Burley, is featuring a completely new member lineup which includes Jason Nauch, Keith Waller, Aaron Bruch, and Shaun Foist. This all comes after a group hiatus which started in 2010 after Burley needed to take time off due to an illness. Soon after there was a dispute amongst members of the band over not only the release of a greatest hits album but remixing songs without the consent of everyone involved. Lawsuits were filed and members were fired which lead to Burley spending much of his time off sifting through the remains to rebuild the band in an attempt to bring it back to its former glory.
I believe that he has succeeded with this release. Dark Before Dawn is bulletproof. Overall, it stays true to the original sound that fans have grown accustomed to from previous albums. Other bands who have broken up in the past and tried to rebuild have made the mistake of coming back with a completely different sound that is unrecognizable to their core fan base. I believe that this is where Burley got it right. He himself said that he did not want to “reinvent the wheel” with this new album. Some critics, however, have spoken negatively about the “all to familiar” take and were hoping for something fresh and new from the bands first release under the new lineup.
One thing that we need to understand is that Burley wrote and produced this entire album completely on his own before he ever brought on any of the new members. Of course it is going to sound similar to what we have come to expect from Breaking Benjamin as a whole. Burley has succeeded in bringing together an album that not only has a heavy, dark tone but solid lyrical content. It has a sound that you can get lost in. I love that he wasn’t “trying too hard” to come at fans with too much change all at once. Will changes come? I believe they will. Any true artist is going to constantly be developing their style. Burley just knew that this was not the time for that.
Overall, this album has laid the groundwork for a fresh start. It debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 and continues to gain attention worldwide. The new band members seem to have taken up the reigns and are putting their hearts in to not only rebuilding Breaking Benjamin, but making it better than it ever was. The first album release as a new unit is only the first test. The true test will come with the release of their next album. Will they be able to build off of the sound while also giving each other room to contribute and evolve as artists? I hope so. There are many bands throughout history who have survived decades in the industry through breakups and changes. I believe that Dark Before Dawn has shown that Breaking Benjamin should not to be overlooked as a contender for becoming a part of that history for generations of fans to come.