All sharp hooks and hefty beats, We Are Not Alone starts off with the Middle Eastern melody of the roaring lead single "So Cold," a riff-heavy track that showcases the fretwork of guitarist Aaron Fink, an expressive guitarist with a flair for both color and crunch. Employing a palette of quirky pedal effects, distorted textures and throttled power chords, he amplifies the emotion in each song, be it the confrontational rage in "Believe" or the sweeping emotional plea of "Break My Fall." "Aaron really stepped up on this record," says vocalist/guitarist Ben Burnely. "He's not so much a riff guy as someone who creates atmosphere. His talents really shine through here."The perfectly paced album is anchored by the propelling rhythms of drums and bass as well as being driven by Burnley, who brings each melody to life with a voice that's both graceful ("Rain") and Godzillian ("Away"). He soars over the mile-high chorus of "Follow," delivering the insistent hook with unbridled passion and grit. "Touring helped develop my singing ability and allowed me to try new things on this record," he says. "It gave me a sense of confidence that was really liberating."The band credit producer David Bendeth for the album's adventurous spirit, saying that he encouraged them to reach higher by digging deeper. "David has a great ear and helped pull better performances out of us," says Fink. "He also added a lot of flavor to the record. Unlike the first album, which was all bass, drums and guitar, this record is filled with all sorts of tasty ear candy. It's definitely headphones-worthy."
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A sophomore triumph!
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 05/05/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With their sophomore album, Breaking Benjamin truly hit their stride, creating a solid collection of cohesive and consistent rock that stands tall as their best work to date. They have always, and most likely will always, deliver. That is not in question. `We Are Not Alone' though, has an air of pristine understanding of what they are meant to do, and it remains their biggest triumph as a band.
Not one song on this album is bland, boring, uninspired or forgettable.
`We Are Not Alone' opens with the blistering `So Cold', a song that is ripe with ferocious energy and an eerie quality that helps give it an edge all its own. It was a stunning choice for a first single, and it remains (to this very day) my favorite song they have ever recorded. `Firefly' is another stunner. The catchy flow of the chorus does not overpower the crushing guitar work done here. I love the way they are able to create something dark and edgy while maintaining a playful tone to their lyrics (remember, these are the guys that wrote a song about The Wizard of Oz). I love the simplicity of `Break My Fall', simply because the way the song is crafted defies the phrase `simple'. There is a definite mood created in the way the music is shaped to fit the emotional lyrics perfectly.
The soft tones of `Sooner or Later' are beautifully captured by Ben Burnely's vocal stylings. His voice is very unique, and I love the way he compliments this bands growth so well. Whether he is using his voice as a weapon of destruction or as a deceptive tool for sympathies, he understands his voice and how to use it effectively.
Don't let the piano introduction to `Breakdown' fool you, for within seconds it explodes.
Songs like `Simple Design', `Follow', `Away' and `Believe' all sound very much like Breaking Benjamin songs. They carry that distinction. While they don't bring anything ultimately new to the table, they are wonderfully constructed and rank high on the list of Breaking Benjamin accomplishments.
Two of the most memorable and noteworthy tracks here are also two of the most different. `Forget It' and the beautiful `Rain' are two of the best songs Breaking Benjamin have ever recorded. I just love the complete tonal shift in `Forget It'. It sounds like nothing they have ever done, and yet it fits them beautifully. They have such bouncy chemistry here, creating something soft and textured to perfection. `Rain' is so subtle yet so emotionally rich. When I talked about Burnely using his voice effectively, I was speaking of times like this when the vulnerability within his brutish vocals takes center stage and you begin to feel every word as if they were your own. Taking a recognizable lyric and creating something fresh and pure from it is a hard task, but Breaking Benjamin steps up to the plate and lands a home run.
In the end, I totally recommend this album. For me, this is Breaking Benjamin's finest. I like all of their work really, but `We Are Not Alone' is their most consistent; beautifully complete in every way."