'Amends' Review: Grey Daze's album featuring gems by Chester Bennington is eternal like the late singer
Linkin Park fans, get ready for 'Amends', the new album from the Chester Bennington-founded band, Grey Daze
Chester Bennington fans are in for a treat! Before the Linkin Park frontman took the world by storm with some of the most powerfully epic and impacting vocals ever heard, Chester founded the post-grunge alternative rock outfit, Grey Daze.
In the mid-'90s, the group released two albums, 'Wake Me' and 'No Sun Today', but were unable to fulfill their vision due to a lack of financial resources. Now, fast-forward over two decades later and we are introduced to their new studio album 'Amends': an as-yet unheard chapter and "the origin story of one of modern rock’s most recognizable voices" as aptly described in a press release. The stunning new record is dropping on June 26.
Prior to his untimely passing, Chester announced a Grey Daze reunion in 2017. 'Amends' now has Chester's bandmates, friends, family, and collaborators coming together to extend the venerable story of the singer and see his dream fulfilled. Chester Bennington's original vocals are backed by longtime Grey Daze members Sean Dowdell [drums, backing vocals] and Mace Beyers [bass] as well as Cristin Davis [guitar] who joined the band in 2017. The 11 tracks are songs re-recorded in 2019 and include many unheard takes from the vault.
Dowdell noted the prophetic and emotional nature of the LP in a press release, exclaiming, “A lot of the stuff he was talking about 20 years ago in these lyrics is really relevant to what happened and our current times." He said, "One of the things that is abundantly clear when you listen to this record is his emotional intensity on every single word. There’s sadness, pain, aggression, and anger. Every bit of emotion he’s trying to portray is believable."
"The fact we got to retrack our parts around his vocals was an amazing experience. It was really cool to play with my best friend again," Dowdell added.
The moment you hit play on the first track of 'Amends' and hear Chester's voice, it's hard to fight back the tears as you remember the cherished times you had with Linkin Park, but that's just it: Grey Daze's 'Amends' offers something to be cherished as well. There is something raw, connective and luminescent apart from being utterly sublime. Strip away the crusts of its angst, sadness, pain and even the abundant fame that came with Linkin Park, and therein lies vulnerability.
Whether we like to share it or not, even as adults, time and the world force us to replace fragility of our youth with toughness and sharper thinking. Although that stance is inevitable as you mature, holes in our thinking prevent us from progress and we tend to forget there is an innocent child somewhere in all of us, or at least once was. What 'Amends' does is let Chester stand in those holes as he sings and screams from a vulnerable place to the tipping point of letting you find a solution for yourself.
In 'Sickness', the LP's first song, we are treated to similar industrial instrumentation we would hear in a Linkin Park track as Chester breaks down infesting pain with the lyrics, "I'm a whore. And I'm feeling. Sorry for myself. In your arms I am drowning. Like the child I was. I need more. Can you help me. Feed my soul?"
The following track 'Sometimes' leans on the hope of "maybe" for escape. "Sometimes. Things just seem to fall apart. When you least expect them to. Sometimes. You want to pack and leave behind. All of them and all their smiles," Chester sings in a lighter tone. The chorus lets it all out while repeating the ambiguous word: "I don't know what to think anymore. Maybe things will get better. Maybe things will look brighter. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe."
'The Syndrome' flexes Chester's famous versatility and ever-graceful vocal gymnastics. The song opens in melancholic, eerily-harmonized vocals as Chester bends the notes before transitioning smoothly to powerfully resounding screaming. The same can be said for 'Just Like Heroin' where Chester lets out spine-chilling, super-high-pitched screaming towards the end.
As Chester Bennington fans would know, the singer was also a clever adapter to expectation and music industry evolution. Although, 'Amends' is exclusively rock, the album has taken on textural layers of other genres which allows for a broader audience. The song 'In Time' gets a mild soulful and sweeter tone. One could recall similar sonic resonances from Linkin Park's later albums. Over a hip-hop balladic beat and strings, Chester sings, "Time. Why must it fly so slow. Waiting. Is something that's easy for you. Pull the plug. Send it down the drain. Pain. Is easy to get used to."
Grey Daze have put all their heart and soul into 'Amends', you can hear it, feel it and honor it. Hearing Chester's voice again is both beautiful and heartrending, but as stated before, it is to be cherished. For both Grey Daze and Linkin Park fans, 'Amends' is a flawless masterpiece begging to be heard and comes highly recommended without any doubt.