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4.5 out of 5 stars
Dear Agony
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 18, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I keep waiting to hear a CD from Breaking Benjamin that I don't completely enjoy but I've yet to be let down. Even now, with Dear Agony, I find myself liking them even more than before.

I'll go ahead and get the one kind of neutral point of this CD out of the way--it's more of the same. Nothing we haven't really heard before. BUT! Breaking Benjamin is so good at what they do that I don't find myself caring about that. In fact, that's actually what I wanted. I wanted a hard rocking CD with a few 'ballads' strewn about. After a few lackluster CDs from some of my favorite bands recently, BB bring me the dose of hard rock I've been yearning for for oh so long.

Dear Agony follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor, Phobia. Dealing moreso with pain than before, is the thing that makes Dear Agony a bit better even than Phobia though. The entire CD moves swiftly, too swiftly in fact. With only 11 tracks they make good with every song so we don't have to skip any single track. Sure, it'll take a few listens to begin to enjoy each and every song but once you do you'll keep coming back for more time and again.

Dear Agony rocks hard. Plain and simple. Every aspect of this CD is just amazing. From the headbang-worthy riffs to the parts where you find yourself screaming right along with Ben without even realizing it, I'm hardpressed to find a downside. The thing, as I stated earlier, that makes Dear Agony so good is the lyrics. I think on Phobia is where Ben really started getting good at writing songs, here he shows that even more. From his 'You can't break me' anthems to his beautiful love song-esque ballads, he's really spread his wings on this record. Another thing that seems to be only getting better is his voice. When he screams he'll evoke more emotion in you than ever before yet when he calms things down and belts out the vocals that truly soar he'll raise goosebumps.

Favorites include the lead single I Will Not Bow, the powerful Crawl, the tender Give Me A Sign, the emotionally intense Anthem of the Angels, title track Dear Agony, and the anthemic Into The Nothing. From beginning to end there's no low point to this CD. Highly recommended.
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40 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Their last album wasn't their best, but it was full of radio friendly songs that stations could play and build the exposure for the band. That's great for these guys, as they truly deserve every ounce of fame they achieve. But for this album, you can really tell they have matured lyrically and musically from their previous albums. Not one song on this album is similar to another, as was the case on previous albums. There's a great deal of variety in all the songs and you can tell this band is becoming something great.

1) Fade Away (9/10) - This song is a GREAT way to start off the album. I can almost guarantee that this song will be a single.

2) I Will Not Bow (9/10) - This song is the first single off the album, and it really shows how the band has matured in one song. From the catchy riff, to the scream of "Fall" throughout the song, to the highs and lows throughout the chorus and verses, you can really see how Ben is being more confident in his voice.

3) Crawl (9/10) - This song really stood out to me the first time I heard it due to the growls in the chorus. It's such a dark song, and could be one of my favorites of the record.

4) Give Me A Sign (10/10) - I've been a Breaking Benjamin fan since the "Saturate" days, and I've honestly never liked one of their slow songs that much - but this song is different. The first time I heard this song, I was in the car with my girlfriend and we couldn't help but smile at this song. It shows a different side to a love song, and many people I've talked to have said this is their favorite song on the album.

5) Hopeless (8/10) - Again, a song with some growling. This song is really heavy and shows the new direction that I believe the band is going. Heavy music, Heavy lyrics, Growls = sweeeet!

6) What Lies Beneathe (6/10) - Not a song that I really liked from the start, but has grown on me since that first listening. I just really don't think it's that catchy.

7) Anthem of the Angels (7/10) - Once again, not that catchy of a song, but it's something different from the band.

8) Lights Out (9/10) - Very catchy guitars with a simple beat throughout. Not to mention the anger in Ben's voice you can hear at certain points.

9) Dear Agony (8/10) - The album's title track, of course. Another song that is going to take some listening to before I learn to love it.

10) Into The Nothing (9/10) - I love how this song is structured and the chorus is one of my favorites from the band. It sounds like a very Saturate-esque type of song also.

11) Without You (8/10) - Not a slow song, but a "love song" as I like to put it. This one is quite upbeat, which is why I like it. Overall, it's a great way to end the album.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Breaking Benjamin, Dear Agony (Hollywood, 2009)

I've been a huge Breaking Benjamin fan pretty much from the first time I heard "So Cold." (This may surprise folks who know my usual listening tastes, which run more to noise and powerelectronics, but let's face it--can you name any other current rock band who explores the same themes as all my favorite PE acts, and then can get them into the American Top 40? Of course not. None others exist.) But, you know, they've always been your basic common-time guitar-wall rock band. So when the verse kicked in on "Fade Away", the first song on Breaking Benjamin's fourth album, Dear Agony, I started wondering if I had a bad copy. And then it happened again in the second verse, and I realized that Breaking Benjamin were... syncopating. Seriously. Honest to god. Granted, fans of more complex rock bands (think Rush/Tool/3/any band who's ever released a rock and roll song using a time signature like 9/8) probably wouldn't even notice. But for your basic four-on-the-floor rock and roll band, that half-note jog Burnley does with the vocals halfway through each verse of "Fade Away" is a quantum jump. I wonder what album #5 will eventually sound like?

They head back into their standard sound after that, and I'm not going to complain about that one little bit; Phobia was one of my favorite albums of 2006. While my first seven or eight spins of the disc have only produced one song that grabbed me by the cojones the way that "Evil Angel" and "Unknown Soldier" did the first time I heard Phobia (that, by the way, being "Crawl"), the album as a whole feels more coherent than anything BB have come up with to date. I really didn't think they could outdo Phobia for simple, straightforward songwriting and We Are Not Alone for the almost gleeful perversity of Burnley's lyrics ("I brought you to life just to hear you scream" is one of those lines that make me wonder why anyone who doesn't enjoy powerelectronics has discovered these guys), but this is it. Who was the last rock band to release four great albums in a row? (Upon reflection, while writing the rest of this, I did come up with one--Pre-Black-Album Metallica.) Especially four albums in the same vein; the consistency of the band's style is such that, for the most part, you can stick a song from Dear Agony next to a song from Saturate and play them both for a newb. Ask him which one's newer. You'll get a confused look. Usually I hate that sort of thing in a band (the only other exception I can think of right now is Legendary Pink Dots), but Breaking Benjamin's sound was good enough from the start that they've got a long way to go before wearing it out, I think.

I always find myself amused by the bands I get listed as "similar artists" when a BB song comes up on last.fm, or the "buy this with..." box on Amazon. Calling, say, Hinder in any way similar to Breaking Benjamin makes me wonder what the guys who stick this stuff together are smoking when they do it. You could make a case that the aggressive, kinda-nu-metal guitar-based BB sound is similar to something like Three Days Grace (but, really, can anyone explain the supposed similarity between Breaking Benajmin--or, for that matter, Three Days Grace--and some sort of wannabe-alt-country act like Hinder or Three Doors Down?), but the big difference is in those lyrics I mentioned before. While Three Days Grace are off whining about failed relationships, Breaking Benjamin are giving you helpful solutions to failed relationships like offing your ex ("The Diary of Jane") or making sure she's dead before you start courting her ("So Cold", "Breakdown"). I haven't yet dug deep enough into "Crawl" to decide whether you can add "construct your own" to that list, but given the band's involvement in the recent movie Surrogates, it's probably not too much of a stretch. Another difference is that when Burnley isn't giving you novel solutions to your girlfriend problems, he's making sure you know those are the only ones that are workable. Lyrics about relationships that actually exist are, for the most part, anything from relentlessly nihilistic (Phobia's "You Fight Me") to perverse-but-not-as-bad-as-murder ("What Lies Beneath"). There is one kind of distressing exception to this rule, which comes at the very end of this disc ("Without You"). I call it "distressing" only because, well, look what happened to Staind when Aaron Lewis found himself a stable relationship. I took one listen to their most recent album (only because it was supposed to be a "back to the roots" kinda gig) and promptly ate it. That's not easy to do with a CD...

In any case, if you're already a Breaking Benjamin fan, you probably don't need my recommendation to go out and buy this thing, preferably today (it gets released to the general public on the day I write this--and given what times my local Best Buys and the like open, you can probably get it about eight minutes from when I'm writing these words, at 9:52AM). It's just as good as Phobia. It may even be better. I do think that people who haven't discovered the band yet, as always, would probably do better with a less coherent album with more tracks that sound tailor-made for radio play (which could be either We Are Not Alone or Phobia, both are wonderful), but make Dear Agony your second Breaking Benjamin purchase. Once again, just as in 2004 and 2006, Breaking Benjamin will probably not top my albums of the year list (it's gonna be hard to get by Merzbow's incredible Don't Steal My Goat album), but it would take some of my favorite bands releasing the best albums of their career to knock it out of the top three. **** ½
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This is one of the best albums I have bought in years. I bought it for 3 specific songs and love every song on it. It is the only cd I own that I can put on shuffle and not have to worry about changing the song. So in short, if you like Breaking Benjamin, this is the album to get. You won't be sorry.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Breaking Benjamin have made quite the career for themselves out of producing hard-hitting, well-produced radio-rock, much to the shared joy of their record label and radio stations everywhere. If Nickelback are too corny for your tastes, here's a band who takes their craft a little more seriously and whose music has a little more personality and substance than the average crop of post-grunge radio bands it is unfairly lumped in with.

Having said that, though, their fourth effort is hardly re-inventing the wheel. "Dear Agony" is, at its best, all four members of the band firing on all cylinders, producing the best music they can, the only way they know how. Producer David Bendeth returns to the helm once again to ensure the band sounds as dynamic and dense as possible. Tracks like the opening number, "Fade Away" and "Crawl" (a song that calls back to the days of Saturate) are the finest examples of the band's everlasting collaboration with the producer. Then there's stunning ballads like the title track, which stand out from the crowd and show that the band can tone things down and still deliver an emotional and melodic tune without the aid of one Billy Corgan.

Most of "Dear Agony" delivers what one would expect from a Breaking Benjamin record, but yet, you can't help but want more by the time it winds down. It seems to be that at this point in their career some creative stretching (marginally hinted at in the band's previous effort, Phobia) is in order. As it is, though, it's certainly an efficient record that will produce many hits, make its fans happy and pad out the soundtracks of many video-games and sci-fi flicks to come. What's that you say? The album's first single is the theme to the Bruce Willis techno-thriller, Surrogates [Theatrical Release]?

See, I told you so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Breaking Benjamin is one of the FEW mainstream bands that I actually like. They're actually capable musicians who have solid song writing abilities. And they have their own unique sound. You know when you're listening to a Breaking Benjamin song even before Burnley starts in. Not many mainstream bands are able to achieve this, and thus I have had an affinity for these guys over the years.

The new album is good. In my world (which is very lonesome sometimes), "Without You" is the best track on here. "I Will Not Bow" is getting killed on the radio, gee what a surprise right? Nonetheless, it is also a decent song; as are all of the songs on this release. I would REALLY love for two things to happen with this band during the upcoming decade...

1) I would like to hear BB take a more progressive, less mainstream approach to songwriting (although they are great songwriters all the same). It would just be cool to see them step out of the comfort zone a bit and try something more unexpected. I am more than confident that they could pull this off with flying colors. Ben, if you're reading this (which you probably aren't)... write your epic man. You're brilliant, you know you are... just let it all bleed out from here on in.

2) I would like for BB to tour with better bands. I would really enjoy seeing these guys live sometime, but I don't think that I could sit through the other performances patiently. This breaks my heart, really... it does.

In conclusion, "Dear Agony" is a very enjoyable listening experience. I would recommend it to anybody who has taste and appreciates good music when they hear it. I do look forward to seeing what BB does with their potential throughout the next decade. And maybe I'll be able to catch these guys live with some better bands on the ticket. Hope. Hope. Hope.

- D Man -
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
Format: MP3 Music
I've read some of the poor reviews to this and I think it really comes down to this... what are you looking for in this Breaking Benjamin record?

If you're looking for a very slightly toned down, yet still powerfull sound with a lot of maturity in lyrics and melodies... look no further; you've found it in "Dear Agony"

It's not flawless. It's not as "hard" as other records they've put out. It has a certain theme that all of the melodies in the songs seem to follow, but to be honest that theme has been one that has been with Breaking Benjamin since the beginning... and is the very reason I think they have so many fans. So to those who say the songs are too much alike... I think you're keying in too much on that theme; because they're are definitely differences in the songs both lyrically and musically. Maybe you have to listen closer or a few more times to appreciate it fully.

Overall, track-by-track, it's solid. I'm really impressed with what others and myself seem to be calling the "maturity" of the record. The melodies take you up and down and everywhere in between while triggering real emotion in every listener. Yet... you can still rock to this record... I think there are quite a few parts in different songs where Ben sounds angrier than I've heard him before. There also seems to be more growls than I've heard on any othe record, so it brings the "heavy"... just maybe not as much as you're used to hearing from BB.

Least favorite track - #1 - Fade Away. It sounds weird to me... I'm not sure, but I just don't like that track. The vocals seem over-synthesized.

Most Favorite Track - #9 - Title Track - Dear Agony. The melody is top-notch. Vocals are great. Mood is solemn and somber... yet somehow strangely uplifting. EXCELLENT job on this song. It's not heavy, and yes, it's slower... but it's great music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This was the first Breaking Benjamin CD I bought, and I enjoyed it so much that I got all three of their other albums. I love all of the songs on this CD, and listen to them almost every day. I hope Breaking Benjamin continues to make great music in the future!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the most consistent bands I've ever heard. If you have the previous CDs then you should like this one. Nothing new and nothing missing in my view. Just pure catchy poppy hard rock tunes. It just depends on which album you like best. This band seems to never abandon their fan base and keeps pumping out simplistic hard rock tunes. What more do you want? Not even close to one of my favorite bands but I give it five stars for consistency. If you like this band a lot do not hesitate to add this album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
Format: Audio CD
If it's one thing i can say about BB is that they are one consistant band. Meaning the never faulter/sell out their own unique sound they have developed over the years. In fact, they've improved on their rich sound and even start drifting towards the more classical sounds with Anthem of the Angels and Dear Agony. Still yet, they maintain their hard rock edge with songs like I Will Not Bow, Crawl, and Hopelessness. All in all, BB delivers yet another hit album and continue to expand their sound as a band. BB Rocks!!!...
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