I will be waiting
With a song in my soul
His melody opens up the sun
Recently, I’ve found myself receiving and reviewing more and more music outside the traditional progressive spectrum (if there even is such a thing). I will especially do this if the band means something to me, so definitely expect more of this since some of my favorite bands when I was young are becoming more and more active again. Anyways, this new release from Grey Daze is a good example of something that should be reviewed, regardless of genre. This is a monumental release, one with a fantastic back-story. The album was originally meant to release in April, but is now releasing on June 26th. Because of this, I’ve gotten the chance to hear the album for about five months now, and I feel like my impression is now permanent.
Grey Daze is the original band for the late and legendary Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. Yes, we are getting to hear Chester from beyond the grave, in a way. For me, Chester was a huge influence, and his raw sense of emotion was part of what made my love for music flourish. I can still remember listening to Hybrid Theory almost daily for several years when I was in high school. To this day, I listen to Linkin Park regularly. Chester means a lot to my heart, and getting the chance to hear him again has been so rewarding.
A few years ago, before Chester passed from this life, he had gotten it into his head to rejoin Grey Daze for a new album. There were even plans to play some festivals. The band planned to recut and remaster some older work, music that had gotten caught up in legal problems after the success of Linkin Park. Then, suddenly, Chester passed away in mid-2017, and all plans were off—-or were they?
The band chose to pay tribute to Chester by completing the project. The band includes Sean Dowdell on drums and backing vocals, Mace Bayers on bass, and Cristin Davis on guitar. The band put everything into this, making it truly a shining beacon for Chester and his emotional performances. You will even hear Chester’s son, Jaime, on one song, and it will break your heart. Yes, the band plays a 90s alternative rock/metal with expressive force and raw lyrics, and the band has re-recorded the music to go along with Chester’s original vocals. The band has done an immaculate job at shaping everything, even including little snippets of Chester talking in the studio. This is an album that I cannot finish without crying at some point, and it is exactly what mourning fans need to hear.
Before I discuss specific songs, I need to mention something about the lyrics. Chester was always a fantastic writer, and the lyrics here are prophetic and chilling. You will hear perfectly crafted lines that will make you cry and make you ponder. The music is definitely a little angry and melancholy, and that is exactly what I hoped it would be.
“Amends” features 11 tracks, and every single one is wonderful. Songs like “Sickness” and “What’s in the Eye?” have powerful hooks and a certain level of nostalgia that will instantly infect your soul. “Just Like Heroin” is similar, but Chester’s screams are especially unnerving here, making for a song that will leave you with goosebumps. On that song, and many others, you will be left emotionally exhausted and quietly introspective.
Some of the songs are bit different than I expected. Songs like “Sometimes”, “In Time”, and “Shouting Out” are softer and poppier, though the hooks are probably the strongest on the album. “Shouting Out” is actually the album closer, and it is a perfect, fading, almost ghostly tribute to Chester and his incredible voice. I love how the song ends with a voicemail left by Chester; it will give you one last gut punch before the music disappears beautifully.
My favorite tracks on the album are “The Syndrome”, “B12”, and “Soul Song”. “The Syndrome” has an electronic beat, evocative vocals from Chester, and a chorus that will grow on you indefinitely. It actually isn’t a standout track initially, but soon becomes one for the sheer emotional weight it brings. “B12” has a turbulent feeling to it, with a spiky chorus and a good dose of angst. I absolutely love it. Lastly, “Soul Song” is my favorite overall, and it is also the most devastating song, too. The lyrics are angelic, and the chorus is simply out of this world. Jaime Bennington is featured on backing vocals, which adds a layer of sorrow and also hope, and Jaime also stars in and directs the music video, and it is probably my favorite video of the year. This song is sure to send chills running up your spine.
“Amends” is exactly what I needed as a fan of Chester. He really was the first major rock star of the younger generations to pass on, and it affected me greatly, especially being so close to the death of Chris Cornell. This album, then, is a powerful force for healing, remembrance, and hope, and I want to thank the band for moving forward with the plans, even without Chester. There is a sacred level of respect, dignity, and restraint that you can hear throughout the album, as the band focuses on highlighting a time in their lives that really meant so much to them, and they are sharing those memories with us. I am extremely grateful.
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