Often, when a band takes a long hiatus, their return to the recording world isn’t relevant. Or good. Generally this is because they stopped taking drugs, their time off attributed to legal issues surrounding them or a loss of a key member or two because of their abuse. Drugs, hate them or leave them, are one of the back bones to the music industry. The old adage and battle cry of music; Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N Roll wouldn’t be complete without the drugs. I’m not condoning illegal drug use here, but let’s face it, Guns ‘N Roses sucked after they stopped doing drugs. Once Metallica removed booze from the equation (and their name is an amalgam of metal and alcohol!), we got ST. ANGER. Seether’s best material came from the darkness of drinking, and the magnificent opus that is FINDING BEAUTY IN NEGATIVE SPACES is the result of years of abuse Sean Morgan put himself through. Drugs are bad, hmm…kay. Unless they make music, then I’m all for the tragic bard, ala Jim Morrsion or Kurt Cobain. There is a flip side to this, which involves people not taking drugs when they should be. These are the members of the music community that are fucked up in the head without the need for substances. Axl Rose falls into this category, his special kind of crazy combined with the abused spirits and junk that were prevalent topics throughout Guns ‘N Roses’ library of early songs created magic. As does the ever neurotic hypochondriac, Benjamin Burnley of Breaking Benjamin.
This review is not here to extrapolate on the issues behind the band’s five year absence from music, yet we can’t tell this story without touching on it in some manner. Burnley went a little nuttier than his normal whacky self, his friends and former band mates were lured into the deceptive web of record company bullshit. This led to Ben gaining a moment of clarity (?) and shit canning his band after winning a legal dispute over the band’s name. Ben replaced them with what is essentially a super group of musicians, including former members of Red, Adelita’s Way, Forever Oeuvre and Picture Me Broken. The outcome of this, DARK BEFORE DAWN, is a literal phoenix rising from immolation, a melodic modern emo-metal masterpiece, ripe with hooks and harmonies, drenched in Breaking Benjamin’s familiar, melancholy sound.
Throughout DARK BEFORE DAWN you can feel Ben and his troubles, his angst isn’t that of being young. It is a consequence of his personal madness. And it’s something any fan of music can relate to. We’ve all got our own crazy, and Benjamin Burnley has been able to build a bridge between himself and his audience through his depressing lyrics and the symphonic morose of the instruments. We’ve had teases of the album throughout the year, leading up to last week’s debut of the completed record. Failure, Angels Fall and Defeated were a sampling of what was to come. The final product is as good as you would assume, confirming that 140,00 people weren’t wrong when their purchases of the album catapulted DARK BEFORE DAWN to the top of the Billboard Hot 200.
What concerns me is the 140,000 sold, yes that was enough to give the number 1 album, but it’s a small number, considering we have over 300 million people in the United States alone. It is a testimony of the swan song of the old music industry, and the only way to survive in this horrible economic climate is to produce quality music. Ben Burnley has done it again on DARK BEFORE DAWN, and with only five albums of original material, he has entered Breaking Benjamin into a select group of bands that have survived the test of time.