For more reasons than just musical talents, Breaking Benjamin’s Phobia has secured a spot as a significant throwback album. There have been and always will be specific bands in an individual’s life that forces them into a nostalgic trance. Personally, Breaking Benjamin holds this wistful remembrance of the person I used to be in comparison to the individual I have become, and in all honesty, the band held an important role in this transformation.
This coming August marks the ten year anniversary of their third studio album Phobia, featuring popular songs such as “Diary of Jane,” “Until the End,” and “Had Enough.” The personal and reflective lyrics presented in every song on this album offer condolence and a sense of relation to those fighting depression. For years I, as well as countless other individuals, have reflected on the enigma of beauty through the obvious suffering presented in this album. Continually, the angst-ridden lyrics of Benjamin Burnley have offered a sense of companionship through the abyss of loneliness that depression presents on its victims.
One by one, the songs throughout Phobia present the listener with the clear understanding that other people in fact understand what it is like to hold the confusion hopeless, and sense of complete loneliness that is often paired with depression. “Unknown Soldier,” captures the suffering of continually trying to fight the fear and sense of being dead inside that begins to envelope an individual. The song presents the relatable mindset of constant fear that the battle of depression will be one where you’ll “be here, fighting forever,” as well as never being able to fully achieve, or deserve, what life has to offer: “You’ll find me climbing to heaven. Never mind, turn back time. You’ll be fine – I will get left behind.”
Phobia then goes on to beg the listener to continue on with the fight rather than slipping through the cracks of depression and into suicide. The song, “You” acts as a letter of encouragement, presenting the individual with a failed example of how to cope with depression through drugs and giving up entirely on life. “My hands are broken, and time is going on and on, it goes forever. So I got high and lived all that life that I’ve taken all for granted. … The only way out is letting your guard down and never die forgotten. Forgive me, my love, I stand here all alone, and I can see the bottom.” After being faced with the regrets one faces from succumbing to their depression, the song asks that you—anyone listening and suffering—choose the path of recovery though it may be more difficult. “Promise me you’ll try to leave it all behind, ’cause I’ve elected hell, lying to myself.”
Finally, “Until the End” instills the fact that there is hope in the seemingly hopeless life depression forces its victims to believe exists. This is arguably the most powerful song on the album in terms of presenting individuals with the encouragement and strength to keep fighting one of the most important battles of their life, inspired through the concept of “I’ll live to die another day, until I fade away.” Breaking Benjamin perfectly sets up the idea of it being “easy to fall apart completely,” and to feel depression creeping back into one’s life just when they feel as though they are growing stronger. However, the chorus presents a manifesto of how one should view their life while fighting the emptiness and loneliness of depression “Why give up, why give in? It’s not enough, it never is. So I will go on until the end. We’ve become desolate. It’s not enough, it never is. But I will go on until the end.”
The relentless passion exhibited by the band presents the determination they have toward their fans and ensuring that no individual feels as though they are suffering alone in an unbeatable internal battle. This fact, as well as the beautifully executed album presented above proves the ability an individual has to overcome their depression as well as various other mental illnesses.
Review By: Deni Balak