Breaking Benjamin Overview:
Breaking Benjamin have quietly become one of mainstream rock’s most popular new bands of the late ‘00s. Drawing comparisons to everyone from Linkin Park
, this Pennsylvania quartet combine metal-edged guitars with confessional lyrics to produce accessible radio-rock.
Breaking Benjamin Origins:
Breaking Benjamin came together around the dawn of the 21st century. Frontman Benjamin Burnley and drummer Jeremy Hummel were in a band together, and they were soon joined by guitarist Aaron Fink and bassist Mark James, who were previously part of the group Lifer. The band played around the Pennsylvania area, attracting the attention of local radio. A self-made EP started making the rounds in 2001, and soon Breaking Benjamin were signed to Hollywood Records.
A Gift for Catchy Songs:
Breaking Benjamin hit the ground running with their 2002 debut, Saturate
. Even at this early stage of their career, Burnley’s vocals and songwriting evoked the angst-heavy urgency of Seattle bands like Nirvana
while at the same time following the post-grunge
formula of streamlining that aggression into insanely catchy songs. Saturate
wasn’t terribly original, but it did suggest that Breaking Benjamin knew how to follow a successful commercial template.
Breaking Benjamin had an even bigger hit with their second album, 2004’s We Are Not Alone
. Though a darker and more musically ambitious record than Saturate
, We Are Not Alone
nonetheless targeted radio audiences with the politely alt-metal
leanings of songs like “So Cold,” where Burnley aped the unsettling vocal delivery of Tool’s Maynard James Keenan. We Are Not Alone
became Breaking Benjamin’s first platinum album, and even if this quartet weren’t pushing the envelope, they were at least proving themselves to be able sonic craftsmen.
Exposing Their 'Phobia':
Breaking Benjamin upped their game with 2006’s Phobia. Burnley had lost none of his surefire commercial instincts, but his songs’ emotional content was more closely observed this time around, resulting in hits that had a little more heft than the band’s earlier tunes. Fans continued to embrace Breaking Benjamin, who had a new drummer in Chad Szeliga. Phobia went on to platinum sales and gave the band their first No. 1 hit on the mainstream rock charts with “Breath.”
Breaking Benjamin didn’t return with a new album until the fall of 2009. Dear Agony would be the group’s fourth full-length record and third in a row with producer David Bendeth. The album was slated for a September 29 release, with the first single, “I Will Not Bow,” coming out at the beginning of the month.
An Uncertain Future:
In the summer of 2011, the band released Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin
, their first greatest-hits collection. Unfortunately, the album came out under a dark cloud: Burnley had fired
longtime members Fink and James as the band went on hiatus.
Breaking Benjamin Lineup:
Benjamin Burnley – vocals, guitar
Chad Szeliga – drums
Essential Breaking Benjamin Songs:
“So Cold” (Purchase/Download
“Sooner or Later” (Purchase/Download
“The Diary of Jane” (Purchase/Download
Breaking Benjamin Discography:
We Are Not Alone
Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin
(greatest hits) (2011)