In following up 2018’s Ember, post-grunge stars Breaking Benjamin decided to switch it up for their seventh studio album. Instead of writing a set of completely new tunes, they’ve recorded acoustic versions of some of their most popular songs, added string orchestration, and invited special guests to perform on half of them. As such, Aurora features guest shots from Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm, Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain, Red’s Michael Barnes, and former Three Days Grace singer Adam Gontier. For good measure, they included one brand-new track, “Far Away,” featuring Scooter Ward of Cold. “I felt it was a good time for us to do this,” Breaking Benjamin founder and leading light Ben Burnley tells Apple Music. “All the songs are completely reimagined. Lacey was the first one I asked, and then it snowballed from there. I wish every song could have a guest, but the schedule didn’t allow.” So Cold “‘So Cold’ was the song that really took us into a different spectrum. It was the first song that we ever got a gold or platinum record on. It was our breakthrough, our first major success. I was in New York when I wrote that song, around 2003. It was wintertime, so it was really cold and I was totally cut off from the world in this really cool hotel in Manhattan that’s not there anymore. It was a bit of a lonely time; I was by myself, and just doing my best to write this record. I didn't really think it was all that great at first, but I was in a bad place in my mind back then, 16 or 18 years ago. Then it took off and it was a huge, huge success for us. So I’m glad I was in that dark space, because I owe my whole career to it.” Failure (with Michael Barnes of Red) “I love Red so much, I stole one of them: Our guitar player [Jasen Rauch] is a founding member. So I approached Mike for whatever song he wanted to do, and he picked this. But I’m such a huge Red fan and such a fan of his voice that I already knew how it was going to sound before he even sang it. It’s a different take on the song, a different energy, and that’s the truest way to really give the song a new perspective for people. Because if they just wanna hear me sing it, that already exists.” Far Away (with Scooter Ward of Cold) “Cold came out way before Breaking Benjamin, and I must admit that Scooter…well, I don’t like to say I ripped him off. I’ll say he influenced me. But yeah, I ripped him off, pretty much. I learned to sing by driving around in my car singing along to bands, and Cold was part of that. Bush was part of that; Nirvana, Counting Crows, The Beatles, you name it—I’d just blare that music and sing it. I’d drive around the back roads of Pennsylvania just to sing. So we did it and it turned out amazing. I don’t know how to put it, but he really brought the song to what it needed to be.” Angels Fall “‘Angels Fall’ was actually the first song written for [2015’s] Dark Before Dawn. I’d just moved back to Ocean City [New Jersey] after being away for 25 years, and was about to have my first son. So that song reminds me of that time frame in my life. I moved away from here, and the whole Breaking Benjamin thing happened, and then became successful, and then I came back here. So it’s really cool to bring a piece of all of that back.” Red Cold River (with Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath) “Underoath is one of those bands that has been around forever, but they’re still as awesome as ever. So it was really surreal to have that signature voice on here. We’d done a tour with them years ago, and he and I starting talking and really bro-ing it up. So when this acoustic thing came up, I was like, ‘Oh, man—“Red Cold River,” dude. You got this.’ The melody suits him really well, so that was a no-brainer. And I love what he brings to it, because he sings it so differently. I mean, if I bring a guest on, I don’t want them to sing like me. I want them to do their own thing.” Tourniquet “You know what I love about ‘Tourniquet’? I didn’t write it. [Guitarist] Keith [Wallen] wrote that song. Well, I wrote some vocal melodies, but all of the music, I didn’t write a single bit. I actually don’t even know how to play it, because I’ve never had to play it before. When Keith sent it to me, I was immediately like, ‘Yep, I’m taking this one. This is going to be a Breaking Benjamin song.’ The vocal parts just poured out of me naturally the first time I heard it. It just flowed through me.” Dance With the Devil (with Adam Gontier) “When we came out with [2006’s] Phobia, which is what ‘Dance With the Devil’ is on, Three Days Grace came out with a record called One-X around the same time. We both had two huge songs happening simultaneously at radio, and so it made sense that we would just tour together. And we toured together for like two years, so we became really, really good friends with those dudes. I would go up and sing their song ‘Take Me Under’ with them, and Adam would come up and do ‘Dance With the Devil’ with us. So we’ve probably sung this song together a hundred times already, just never in a studio. This record seemed like a good opportunity to do that.” Never Again “This was the first song that the new lineup of Breaking Benjamin ever wrote together. Well, I can’t even call it new, because it’s been six years now. But these guys came on board for Dark Before Dawn, which I already had about 95% written. I was just missing one song. So this is the song we wrote.” Torn in Two “Not many people know this, but I wrote this song when I wrote Dark Before Dawn. It’s on Ember, but I actually wrote it when I was writing the previous record. It was just missing some parts that are in it now. I couldn’t get it together in time for that record, so I put it away for a while. When we did Ember, it just all came back. I found what I needed for it. People always ask what the lyrics are about, but I don’t know. I know that sounds stupid; believe me. But they just popped into my head.” Dear Agony (with Lacey Sturm) “We toured with Flyleaf way back in their beginnings and I knew they were going to be something spectacular. I became really great friends with Lacey, and there’s nobody that sounds like her on this earth. So I always wanted to do a song with her, and ‘Dear Agony’ was a song that spoke to her. Before we recorded it, she sat me down and went through the lyrics line by line and explained to me what the song was to her. And that was a beautiful moment for me, to know that something spoke through me and touched her in the way that it was supposed to. I appreciated that more than anything in the world. We want to do a whole record together at some point.”

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