At the sold-out Roxy on Saturday, Breaking Benjamin’s dreary dark themes and chugging, near-metal riffs forecast a band likely to get lost in the glut of similar-sounding heavy acts (Tool, Chevelle, Default, etc.) currently treading the boards.
The Pennsylvania-based hard-alternative band mined gold-level success with its 2002 debut album, and it is fast approaching a repeat performance with “We Are Not Alone” (Hollywood), released in June. But a lack of originality (despite the songwriting presence of Billy Corgan on a trio of new songs) portends a band unlikely to progress much beyond its current status.
Namesake Ben Burnley is a capable front man who captivated the packed house, a mix of mosh pit bruisers and trendy club gals. But his pedestrian, flat vocals — somewhat reminiscent of Bush’s Gavin Rossdale — failed to adequately capture the complex emotions churning through his gloomy songs.
“I’d die to win,” Burnley exclaimed in the alternately soft and heavy “Firefly,” one of the numerous emotional workouts from the new album offered at the Roxy. ” ‘Cause I’m born to lose,” he countered with a characteristically contrary angle. In the current alt-radio hit “So Cold,” Burnley contemplates mortality, exclaiming, “You’re so cold, but you feel alive.”
A bland, midset reading of Nirvana’s “Lithium” elicited as many frowns as cheers from the otherwise supportive crowd — yet another sign that most bands should simply not try to cover the Seattle legends.
Hourlong perf closed with an encore of “Shallow Bay,” from the first album, teased by a brief intro of “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC that failed to register with most attendees.