Aurora by Breaking Benjamin: Too Soft on Hard Songs

3 out of 5 stars

Breaking Benjamin, an alternative rock band, decided to do something different for their seventh studio album. One of their most notable traits is the similarities in style across all their albums. Many fans of the band claim Breaking Benjamin is a constant comfort due to this. Instead of following their sixth album “Ember,” “Aurora” takes a dip into the acoustic side of several of their most popular songs. While they have dabbled in ballads and acoustic songs before, “Aurora” is entirely that. There is only one new song on the album: “Far Away,” featuring Scooter Ward from the band Cold. The album also includes other guest stars in many of the reworked songs.

Overall, the album falls pretty flat. While the songs are good, they were good before when they appeared on previous albums and their rework ruined the heavier songs. Three songs from “Ember” were reworked: “Red Cold River,” “Tourniquet,” and “Torn in Two.” “Ember” was one of the heaviest albums the band ever produced with plenty of electric guitar and growling vocals from lead singer Ben Burnley. Reworking these three songs completely throws off the anger and fast pace of the songs, which was their point. While acoustic covers of many Breaking Benjamin songs keep the original emotion, the added string orchestration takes away the impact. 

This is also a disservice to the internal “story” of Breaking Benjamin. Their music videos since their fifth album “Dark Before Dawn” all take place in a fantasy world that draws on music videos from their second through fourth albums. “Ember,” through its music videos, tells the story of a man whose daughter is kidnapped and killed by one of his closest friends. He consults a voodoo practitioner in desperation to find his daughter who tells him the truth and casts a spell to allow him to gain in strength. He then kills the man who killed his daughter, and his daughter’s spirit comes to him. The two are seemingly reunited until they both fall to a hell-like dimension where the father must battle demons that (again) kidnap his daughter. He eventually succeeds and he and his daughter are happily reunited. The point of these songs is to illustrate the man’s struggles with the pain and rage he is going through over his daughter and “Aurora’s” softening of them is almost an insult to the previous album.

“Aurora” is not the worst Breaking Benjamin album, and it is nice to see them take a break from their more traditional style, but the songs chosen for rework were popular because of their style or how they contributed to the band’s story arcs. A better choice would have been to grab favorites from “Dark Before Dawn” because the style of that album would lend to easier listening if they had been reimagined in this way. 

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