We Are Not Alone

Studio Album by released in 2004

We Are Not Alone review

In late 2000, guitarist Aaron Fink and bassist Mark James Klepaski made a surprising and unexpected decision: they left Lifer, an alternative metal band that was signed to Universal and was gaining commercial acceptance. When Fink and Klepaski departed Lifer and joined forces with singer Ben Burnley and drummer Jeremy Hummel to form Breaking Benjamin, many hard-rock fans were skeptical. We Are Not Alone, the latter band's sophomore effort, promises to silence the naysayers for good. Led by powerful vocalist, Breaking Benjamin delivers a snap-tight, streamlined brand of heavy alternative rock with occasional detours into the rhythmic funk-metal territory inhabited by Limp Bizkit and Korn. On We Are Not Alone the Philadelphia quartet still enjoys coursing the downcast dynamics and dour cerebrals of early Tool through post-grunge's more accessible melodies.

The opening track, slow-burning So Cold gets We Are Not Alone off to a good start, as all eleven tracks go by with ease. Sooner Or Later, Break My Fall and Simple Design are the standard for Breaking Benjamin, heavy but sensitive (they stick to the familiar formula of introducing huge chords before dwelling on the personal struggle in the verses, only to surge toward hopeful choruses), while other riff rockers like Breakdown and Believe take things up a notch. Also of note is the band's collaboration with Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins/Zwan) on three tracks: Follow Me and the two stand-out ballads Rain and Forget It. These three songs are easily the high-points of an already incredible album. Breaking Benjamin makes good use of soaring vocal harmonies and unusual production touches (the piano intro on Breakdown and the swirling, phase-shifting guitars on Believe) to separate itself from the heavy-rock pack. On Forget It and the closing ballad Rain, Breaking Benjamin gets downright New Romantic, suggesting diversity unusual among its contemporaries.

Breaking Benjamin seemed to come out of nowhere with their 2002 debut, Saturate. Their seemingly effortless knack for combining larger than life riffs and beautiful melodies were enough to win over anyone who was willing to listen. Just two years later, they followed up with an album that, shockingly, improves upon what was already in place with their debut. Everything you liked about Breaking Benjamin is still here, just taken to the next level. Their debut was extremely mature for a new band, and the fact that they can put out something even better for their sophomore release means that the next album from these guys will blow everyone away. If you loved their debut or just rock music in general, you owe it to yourself to pick up We Are Not Alone. It is a solid second effort, with plenty of appeal for fans of groups like Crossfade, Default, and Smile Empty Soul.