Aromatic compounds are a major component of the global carbon pool and include a diverse range of compounds such as humic acid, lignin, amino acids, and industrial contaminants. Due to the prevalence of aromatic compounds in the environment, aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms have evolved mechanisms by which to metabolize that available carbon. Less well understood are the anaerobic pathways. We now know that anaerobic metabolism of a variety of monoaromatic compounds can be initiated in a number of different ways, and a key metabolite for these pathways is benzoyl-CoA. Chemicals can have different upstream anaerobic degradation pathways yet can still be assessed by targeting the downstream benzoyl-CoA pathway. In this pathway, we propose that the ring opening hydrolase, encoded by the bamA gene, is especially useful because, in contrast to the benzoyl-CoA reductase, it is detected under a number of respiratory settings, including denitrifying, iron-reducing, sulfate-reducing, and fermentative conditions, and has a wide distribution in the environment. This review examines the bamA gene in enrichment cultures and environmental DNA extracts to consider whether it can be used as a biomarker for anaerobic aromatic degradation. Given the number of potential upstream inputs from natural and man-made monoaromatic compounds, the benzoyl-CoA pathway and the bamA gene in particular may play an important role in the global carbon cycle that has thus far been overlooked.