The fifth studio long-player and first outing from Breaking Benjamin to rely on the talents of a more or less completely new lineup (founder, frontman, and namesake Benjamin Burnley remains at the wheel), Dark Before Dawn offers up little in the way of innovation. That said, as thick, smartly produced, largely inoffensive blasts of generic hard rock go, you could do a lot worse, and longtime fans will appreciate the fact that Burnley and his new shipmates (drummer Shaun Foist [Picture Me Broken], bassist Aaron Bruch, former Red guitarist Jasen Rauch, and ex-Adelitas Way guitarist Keith Wallen) stay true to the band's unwavering allegiance to all things late-'90s/early-2000s post-grunge/hard rock. In the six years since 2009's Dear Agony, Burnley has endured issues of both the legal and health varieties, and much of the 12-track set is spent attempting to process that period of personal upheaval, with standout cuts like the slow-burn single "Failure," the anthemic "Defeated," and the soaring "Close to Heaven" and "Angels Fall" leading the charge. Subtlety has never been Breaking Benjamin's strong suit (the album is bookended by a pair of perfunctory mood pieces titled "Dark" and "Dawn"), but what they lack in nuance they more than make up for in sheer melodic power. Somewhere between Burnley's powerhouse voice and the triple guitar-induced wall of sonic discord in which that pained throat wails, must lie some sort of catharsis, both for the listener and the band, but it's hard to conceal the fact that most of these songs are nearly interchangeable with the band's older material.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger