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    Breaking Benjamin - Phobia ( 5 / 5 )


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    Post by Envy on Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:24 pm

    ”Show me what it’s like
    To dream in black and white
    So I can leave this world tonight.”

    Imagine a man living an internal hell, a man whose mind was his worst enemy and the bottles lying next to him on the table being his best friends. A man who has never been able to fly on an airplane due to the insatiable terror of death that looms over his head, a man who feels so out of touch with himself and with the world that everything for him is utterly horrific, and a man whose alcoholism was so severe that he developed permanent neurological damage resulting in the band’s collapse both emotionally and physically. That man is Benjamin Burnley, the voice and meaning behind Breaking Benjamin. This album is the inner mechanisms of his mind personified. His message to the listener and himself is one that sends chills down your spine and makes you look over your shoulder. This album was constructed out of sheer paranoia, rampant alcoholism and the sole desire to find one’s purpose other than to feel afraid and alone. The result of everything he has ever gone through has brought us his personal masterpiece, Phobia. When listening to this album, one should understand that what makes it a classic is how it functions and conveys as a whole, and not just the individual aspects. That doesn’t mean this record is short on impressive musicality and compositions however, as this album is not only an intense, emotion fueled ride, but is also melodic, in depth and pervasive.

    The vocals carry the album, soaring with many different styles, being able to switch from a soft and slightly airy tone to a deep, grinding inflection that can easily match the nature of the instrumentals, regardless of the nature of the song. What makes the vocals memorable however, is that there is a sense of melancholy behind them. While they carry the songs high, it’s as though something is dragging him behind, a tight fitting rope tied to his neck, keeping him from leaving the inner sanctum of his own self inflicted dementia. His vocal range and style is very apparent, taking from the example “The Diary of Jane.” His conveyance of aggression throughout the song is up front and center, easily showcasing the need to belong not only to others, but to himself as well, with that anger reaching a boiling point in the song’s many intense segments, such as his deep almost guttural screams throughout the song. That style can easily change however, as in the song “The Diary of Jane [Acoustic].” The same message comes across, but with a different tone and perspective, with more passive undertones once again pushing forward that desire for acceptance. His ability to sing well in a higher register is also noted here, as it’s one of the reasons that the song feels so different from its harsh counterpart.

    The lyricism is poignant to say the least. While not having a particularly eloquent orthography, its purpose is fulfilled in every aspect, which is to explore every nook and cranny of Benjamin’s darkened mind. It’s murky, straight to the point and deep as an ocean trench. The conceptual basis is seemingly simple in nature, being about Benjamin’s desires and fears, but is abrasive and grandiose in construct, encompassing the many different shades that are the driving locomotive behind his terrors. Even more notable is the fact that he often switches between optimistic and pessimistic viewpoints, leading to an overall conflicted nature that signifies how Benjamin is at war with his very being. Not a single line throughout this entire album is a forgettable insipid missive, they are all inherently powerful without being overly complex.

    The production values are possibly the greatest factor in the creation of atmosphere throughout this album. David Bendeth’s talent for mixing really shows, as every riff, every fill and every arrangement sounds deeper and more pronounced than it would normally be. Not only does the style perfectly suit the arrangements, but it ranges from murky and dark to clear with echoing resonance. Each song has its own flair thanks to the production. In terms of musicality, every song matches the feeling of the vocals and lyrics. The riffing varies in its composition, ranging from fast, chunky and filling to melodic, up tempo and relaxing. The drums range from slowly pounding beats to speedy rolling fills. The bass helps to provide that extra impact that helps to boost the rest of the instruments. There are many moments in which the instrumentals work together flawlessly as well, such as the distorted riff above the breakdown in “The Diary of Jane” or the simple melodic guitar solo in “Dance With The Devil.” Dashes of piano and cello litter the album as well, helping to craft the listener’s experience down to the most finite details. What truly makes the instrumentals so captivating however is the way they blend together so gracefully, each strum of a chord and each small musical nuance being both elegant and raw with flawless juxtaposition.

    Exiting this album, several things can be taken from the experience. The most notable one is that the human mind is one of the most powerful tools, weapons, and self harming mechanisms in existence. If the mind is right, the body will follow. In this case, Benjamin Burnley has a mind which gallivants above the highest clouds, but his feet never leave the ground.

    ”Fly over me evil angel
    Why can’t I breath evil angel?”

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    Post by skeletorissatan on Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:29 pm

    remember reading this for the first time on sputnik and it blew me the fuck away. amazing review-LITERALLY one of the best i have ever read

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