Sixteen years have passed since the release of “Saturate”, and like aged wine, Breaking Benjamin's music has matured beautifully. That notion is quite obvious as soon as you listen to the album that came out this year on April 13: Ember.
Sonically, every single song in the album is outstanding. The album takes the crown of “Breaking Benjamin's heaviest album” but in contrast, also carries some of the softest and ethereal tunes the band has made. Impressively, instead of keeping these two shades apart, the band takes the bold move of blending it together masterfully.
The album not only takes a much heavier direction in their music, but in lyrics and theme as well. For example, the lead single “Red Cold River” is about a father who finds his missing daughter murdered, and how he sold his soul to the Devil to find the killer. The lyrics maintain a very hopeless and bleak vibe to them. Nearly every song on the album is like this, but it makes for an interesting take, compared to the other more uplifting and hopeful stuff like “I Will Not Bow”.
Instrumentally, the band really pushed themselves. In fact, lead guitarist Jason Rauch claims that “playing-wise, this is the most difficult album”. While that statement can probably be disputed, in my opinion, there's no doubt that the compositions are amazing. This is the album they all contributed on, and you can really see that in the way the instruments and their parts in the songs complement each other. This teamwork is actually the reason as to why you can probably sense a difference in relation to their previous work. In the past, it's been mostly Benjamin Burnley, the frontman, who did the composition. With all their styles mixed in this time, they finally pulled out something that's wonderfully fresh yet so nicely familiar. The guitar tones and riffs remain catchy but are also dark; lunging and moody, or beautiful and soaring. The drums are epic and dramatic. Heck, I think I even remember hearing something dank slapping on the bass in one of the songs, too. For me, however, the highlight was Burnley's vocals. All those small instances of screams and growls in the previous songs are nothing compared to the roars – yes, ROARS – in this album. Start with “Red Cold River”. If you tell me that you didn't do a double-take at the pre-chorus, you're most likely a liar.
All in all, this album is one that definitely deserves your attention, especially if you're an old time fan, but just as much if you're a new listener.