“Evil Angel” by Breaking Benjamin
Breaking Benjamin is a rock outfit from Wilkes-Barre, a city found in Pennsylvania. This act has been dropping studio albums since 2002 but didn’t get around to topping the Billboard 200 until 2015, with their fifth of such efforts, “Dark Before Dawn”.
Prior to that they were on a pretty-steady trajectory upwards, such as “Phobia”, their third studio album, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard 200, in addition to achieving RIAA-platinum status. It is from the playlist of that project, which Hollywood Records officially put on sale on 8 August 2006, that we get “Evil Angel”.
Benjamin Burnley, the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin, is also the band’s principal songwriter and as such is responsible for authoring this song, with this being one of the first he penned for “Phobia”. None of his bandmates at the time – guitarists Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski alongside drummer Chad Szeliga – are still members of Breaking Benjamin as of this writing.
In terms of conclusively analyzing this song, there are three main challenges that must be confronted. One is that the lyrics are very terse. Secondly, they’re ambiguous. Third, the addressee of the song, the “evil angel”, is, based on its title, a character with religious/spiritual connotations.
Due to the complexity and diversity of such understandings, naturally what Burnley means by that reference is open to different interpretations. So amongst the seemingly-plausible theories we have come across is this song being about alcoholism or Azrael, a death-related angel that is associated with Islam.
Examining the lyrics do reveal that the main subject is the vocalist himself. They also imply that the “evil angel” may indeed be a supernatural/spiritual figure and more specifically one Benjamin is calling upon for help.
It may sound strange that, if a person were to request assistance from an angel, they would do so from an “evil” one. Angels are generally understood as being good, and their evil counterparts as being demons.
But going back to the character of Azrael, if an angel were responsible for initiating death (as he reportedly is, according to the Quran), then some people would likely refer to it as being evil.
“Put Me To Sleep”
In the pre-chorus, the vocalist does request that the addressee “leave (him) to die”, and in the chorus he also asks to be “put… to sleep”, which may be a reference to an eternal rest.
But that noted, all lyrics considered it isn’t necessarily as if Benjamin wants to die. Rather, what’s being inferred throughout is that the life he has found himself stuck with is proving too challenging for him to retain any type of optimistic outlook. And judging by the second verse, what he seems to have an issue with most especially is the quality – or lack thereof – of his associates.
“Put me to sleep, evil angel
Open your wings, evil angel”
So if there’s one aspect of “Evil Angel” that can be definitively ascertained is it being a song of pessimism. Yes, the vocalist may be asking the titular character to ‘help him survive’ under less-than-ideal, lonely circumstances.
So on one hand, it can be gleaned that he at least wants to live. But simultaneously, he appears to be considering death as a viable option, if things keep progressing as are. Or in any event he is perceiving this “angel”, as “evil” as it may be, as the one who is able to grant him relief from this melancholy.