Allow me to begin this post by introducing myself, my name is Nopac and I was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. I have known and worked with Adam for almost four years, and we enjoy talking about music together because of both our similarities and differences in genre preference. One of my main hobbies is music production, which I began doing almost exactly ten years ago. It started in 2008 when I wanted to remix a song called “ Risingson” by Massive Attack, but had no idea how to do just that. I went online and searched for “remix software” and ended up purchasing a 20-30 dollar program called MP3 Remix.
The premise of MP3 Remix is to import your track to the app and it would automatically generate various sounds to the song itself, but I knew something was missing, I wanted more. At the time the only music production software I was familiar with was ProTools, but it was intimidating and expensive being the industry standard. My next step was to search on Amazon for music making software that would suit me better and I ran across one called Reason 4, the latest version for 2008. Naturally I read the user reviews for this program and they seemed to be pretty positive, so I pulled the trigger and made a life changing decision. Fast forward to 2018 and I am running Reason 10, with more ways than ever to produce and remix and it’s a decision that I don’t regret, despite being an expensive hobby.
Music production has allowed me to listen to songs more carefully, and I often find myself thinking about what I would add/subtract or change about some of my favorite songs. One of the most overlooked aspects of music production is the mixing and mastering process, which I will talk about briefly for Breaking Benjamin’s Ember album.
When listening to rock music, including any sub-genre, I tend to listen for how melodic each song is because heavier tracks tend to be drowned out by the guitar and drum sections. One of the first things I noticed about this album is how much heavier it feels compared to Breaking Benjamin’s previous albums. Take the We Are Not Alone (2004) album for example; listen back to songs like “Firefly” and “So Cold” and you will hear the difference.
On Ember, the guitars are definitely harder hitting, and to me there is more complexity in the instrumentation. I was pleased that even though this album is heavier, it still feels like a Breaking Benjamin album. I’ve always felt that this band had strong choruses in their songs, particularly due to the chord progressions and vocal style, and this album is no exception. I have to use the word melodic again, especially when listening to Ember, another trait of this band that makes them stand out. It’s one of the reasons that despite the lineup changes over the years, this band is still going strong and credit Benjamin Burnley for his song writing skills. I also read that the current band members played a large part in the sound and feel of this release, so they definitely deserve credit for the influence of this album.
Standout tracks for me are “Feed the Wolf”, “Red Cold River”, and “Torn in Two”. I would highly recommend watching the videos for “Red Cold River” and “Torn in Two” as they tell a story about a man and his struggle to reunite with his daughter. Adam gave a great interpretation of the “Torn in Two” video in his recent blog post, it’s definitely a must read. Another stand out track for me was the outro called “Vega”, a follow-up to “Close Your Eyes” in the key of A#. I think it’s the epic feel of the instrumental that I love, as if it’s telling the listener to get ready for what’s coming next. It leaves you wanting more, similar to a cliff hanger in a movie or TV show.
My overall impressions of this album are very positive, and though I admit I don’t always listen to rock, I do find myself going back to it from time to time. It is always good to have albums like this to listen to, especially when every song on the album is worth the listen. The darkness of Ember, both lyrically and musically, is the direction I would like to see Breaking Benjamin take in future projects.
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