Are Breaking Benjamin undergoing an identity crisis? Should we be worried? Their sixth studio album, Ember, is a heavy record -- not just in terms of sound where you could argue that they've never sounded heavier, but also in terms of lyrical content. The first sign of that came a few months back with the lead single "Red Cold River," where Ben Burnley sings the chilling lines, "I can't feel anything at all / This life has left me cold and down." The equally dramatic and dark video just framed the song's sinister edge even further. But that's just the tip of the iceberg where the dark side is concerned.

Song titles like "Psycho," "The Dark of You," "Blood" and "Save Yourself" hint at the band's collective headspace. "Psycho," one of the highlights, opens with a swinging Pantera-esque riff and is accentuated by the bass-drum play of Aaron Bruch and Shaun Foist. The single-worthy track also offers one of the disc's few guitar solo moments.

As Burnley told Loudwire Nights host Toni Gonzales earlier this year, he welcomed the rare special guest as singer-dancer Derek Hough adds a fresh contrast to his rougher vocal on the wounded ballad "The Dark of You," a song that provides the perfect change of pace in the flow of the disc after the heavier than usual start. The pummeling "Blood" offers a self-analysis of the "monster I've become," almost resigned to living out a pre-determined fate. But starting with "Save Yourself" and finishing with "Close Your Eyes," there is a sense of hope and the potential of breaking through the dark.

Add in the opening track and likely future single, "Feed the Wolf," which gives listeners a nasty low end, soaring vocals and the perfect blend of rough and clean moments, as well as the primal and nimble maneuvering of "Down" and you've got a Breaking Benjamin album that could go deep with radio play while also resonating with listeners.

It's an impressive second act for Breaking Benjamin, who were almost felled by a legal dispute amongst band members a few years back that left Ben Burnley as the last man standing. But with Dark Before Dawn and now Ember, Breaking Benjamin are proving that they're better (and yes, heavier) than ever with plenty still left to say.



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