Breaking Benjamin releases greatest hits album

Despite being on an indefinite hiatus since the summer of 2010, Breaking Benjamin has finally released its heavily-anticipated greatest hits compilation album, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin, released through Hollywood Records, a Walt Disney-owned record label.

This is the first compilation album from the alternative rock band, following four successful studio albums. Shallow Bay tries to make sure Breaking Benjamin are not forgotten until differences in the band are sorted out — front man Benjamin Burnley fired guitarist Aaron Fink and Bassist Mark Klepaski for remixing tracks without permission.

The album can be obtained as a standard edition with the band’s best songs to date or a two disk deluxe edition with B-sides, acoustic tracks, live songs and remixes. Borrowing songs from all four previous albums in chronological order, the compilation feels balanced. Though this might sound conventional, it allows the listener to experience the band’s progression over the years.

Shallow Bay opens with “Polyamorous,” a catchy pop-metal single from 2002’s breakthrough album Saturate. Burnley’s hard-rock style vocals blend well with the heavy guitar riffs. Of the next two tracks, “Skin” is a passable, generic song and “Medicate,” at its best, showcases the best of Burnley’s voice with a sing-along chorus.

The commercially successful track “So Cold” from 2004’s We Are Not Alone is a relatively softer song with a quiet intro and heavy chorus. Burnley’s vocals clearly stand out on “Sooner or Later,” whereas “Rain” is an unfitting ballad effort with soulful acoustics.

The album gets a much-needed lift with “The Diary of Jane.” The piano intro gives way to a thumping beat with catchy riffs and delightful vocals. The band’s best-known song stands out on the first disk.

“Breath” and “Until the End” don’t help the album with the latter featuring growling vocals and dull lyrics. “I Will Not Bow” which blends the aggression of alternative metal and melodic rhythms is arguably Breaking Benjamin’s best song to date. The infectious hook “I will not bow, I will not break” stays with you long after the song ends.

“Give me a sign” is a consistent vocal effort from Burnley, whereas “Lights Out” is a typical Breaking Benjamin hard rock track. The single from the album, “Blow Me Away,” features guest vocals from lead singer Syd Duran of rock band Valora. The vocal interplay between Burnley and Syd makes for an interesting listen.

The bonus rarities CD features acoustic versions of “Polyamorous”, “I Will Not Bow” and “Lie to Me”. Burnley gets to show his full potential of vocal ability but “Better Days” lacks innovation.

The Japanese B-sides “Ordinary Man” and “Lady Bug” are previously unreleased songs. “Lady Bug” has vile riffs and no continuity, while “Ordinary Man” highlights Breaking Benjamin’s punk influences. The chugging riff on remixed “Water” appeared on the band’s EP.

The Depeche Mode cover “Enjoy the Silence” is worth a listen with its dark and hollow vocals in spite of the discordant electronic effects at the beginning. The cover of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” is a pleasant acoustic listen.

Although the album has its highs and lows, for the Breaking Benjamin fans Shallow Bay serves as a good addition to their collection. For the first-timers, welcome to Breaking Benjamin.