July 20th, 2017 may have been a normal day for many across the world. A lot of individuals drank their morning cup of coffee, worked their nine to five at the office, and socialized or relaxed at night with little to no discomfort. Perhaps they were just blissfully ignorant of one man’s struggles: for Chester Bennington, the lead singer of the alternative rock group Linkin Park, had committed suicide on that day. Fans and friends alike were absolutely devastated by the news.
Whether you knew Bennington or just happened to listen to his music, you knew he was a troubled, genuine soul. Someone who made everyone around him a better person. Bennington’s passion and authenticity on albums like Hybrid Theory and Meteora instantly struck a palpable chord with audiences around the world. The intensely personal aura that glowed from those albums helped the audience connect with the band. It made them feel as if they knew Bennington personally.
It is not often that a band is able to connect with its fans on such a high level. Just about everybody who knew their music was devastated on that day. It was hard to go through a daily routine. It was hard to be optimistic at all. It was hard to see someone like Bennington, someone who had overcome so much, fall to suicide. Knowing the weight that this held on the band’s fans, one could only imagine what Bennington’s family and friends were going through. On Mike Shinoda’s Post Traumatic, we get a glimpse into what those close to Bennington were feeling on that day.
Shinoda, a rapper and bandmate of Bennington, is stepping back into the limelight as a solo act after long years of silence. Back in the early 2000s, he made waves with the track “Remember the Name” under the Fort Minor moniker, but he has since been working mostly on Linkin Park projects. Regardless, it is good to hear the sentiments he echoes throughout this record. Shinoda addresses the impact Bennington made on him, as well as his own fears about coming back into the public eye. While his lyrics are at times a bit simplistic, you can tell Shinoda believes everything he is saying. His uneasiness and anxiety are apparent in his quivering vocal patterns, creating quite an emotional experience.
With that being said, it is at times hard to hear such important subject matter spouted out over such glossy and produced instrumentation. A lot of the rawness of the record feels more calculated and ultimately less effective due to its clean sound. On top of this, much of the record does not particularly stand out from itself. Dance and hip-hop drum kits and synths are frequently used, and if they are not, the song is almost certainly a piano ballad. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these styles of music, but when used so frequently the result becomes a bit monotonous.
Still, you cannot deny this record has its heart in the right place. Shinoda has opened up and let others into the struggles he has faced since July 20, 2017. By doing this he has allowed listeners to feel more comfortable with their own struggles in a similar situation. And at the end of the day, if this album is able to get people talking about suicide prevention or at the very least methods for coping with it, then you cannot say it was unsuccessful.