10 Year’s new album, “From Birth to Burial,” should sound familiar to anyone who knew a Breaking Benjamin fan in high school. Listening to this band is like setting off a personal raincloud in your head, which turns out not to be all that bad. The band’s 11 tracks of alternative metal, released April 21, combine to create an atmosphere of haunting melodrama that almost works.
That raincloud ends up being more of a hazy drizzle than a full out thunderstorm.
When it comes down to it, “From Birth to Burial” just doesn’t come through with the fundamentals. The title song and “Moisture Residue” in particular seemed to be building toward something with piano intros that play like raindrops on a window, before dissipating completely. There’s not a single song on the album that ramps up to a recognizable climax or chorus and its divergence from the verse-chorus-bridge format is uncomfortable on an almost visceral level.
It’s sort of like listening to Dream Theater without the years of performance experience needed to make sense out of anything they’re doing. I could be completely wrong about the specifics of why a song feels wrong in my head, but the fact is something my brain expects to be there is missing.
Maybe this is just a part of the alternative metal genre as a whole, but I’m not convinced. Jesse Hasek’s voice is also off somehow, autotuned to infinity and endlessly superimposed over itself on every track.
There’s at least a plausible explanation for this synthetic quality, though. According to 10 Years’ Artist Direct biography, the degrading influence of technology on relationships is a major theme in their work.
“Humanity is slowly shutting down,” Hasek said in the biography. “Music is supposed to be about intensity and feeling, but there’s no thinking behind the music that’s out there today. We want people to think, to feel emotions again. We’re always plugged in, or connected to something, part of the machine, but the more we plug in, the less human we become.”
It’s an impressive concept, but in practice “From Birth to Burial” doesn’t transmit much more than a general aura of melancholy. By “Luna,” the 5th song in the album, everything melts together to the point that’s it’s hard to tell one song from the next.
I entered into the album hoping for another improbable guilty pleasure like Red’s “End of Silence,”a Christian alternative rock/metal album that’s lived on my iPod for a year, and left with the uncertain feeling that “From Birth to Burial” never actually finished.