A glimpse back into youth
One of the greatest benefits of music as an art form is its transcendental qualities. Just like a certain smell, taste or feel, sound fills the senses with fragments of a past life. While music may not have the ability to fully and vividly capture an accurate image of this past life, it often demonstrates its uniquely potent ability to remind people of how they felt in that home, and in that memory. Grey Daze’s Amends is conducive to that experience, and is a lovely artifact of the past. It serves to aid in the remembrance of one of its creators, as well as recapture feelings of the past, which ultimately serve as relics of people’s respective existences.
At first glance, Chester Bennington’s earliest official project as Grey Daze represents merely a brief and forgettable portion of his extensive musical career. The post-grunge outfit from Phoenix, AZ released just a demo and two fairly obscure albums between 1993 and 1997 before Bennington’s departure shortly after in 1998. Every famous musician has bands and projects that never see the light of day before they make it into the spotlight. While perhaps the vast majority of these past artifacts never possessed the merit to reach mainstream familiarity, what most all of them possess is a unique creative energy that only exists at the beginning of a career. Grey Daze represents some of Bennington’s earliest artistic expressions, formative ones that serve as stepping stones for his rise to fame as the lead vocalist for the massively commercially-successful Linkin Park.
Plans to rework the masters from Grey Daze’s two albums, involving the stripping down of each track and the re-recording of guitars and other instrumentals, came to a screeching halt after Bennington tragically took his own life in the summer of 2017. After deciding to continue on with the project, with the blessing of Bennington’s widow Talinda and the goal in mind of capturing Bennington’s spirit, what remained was a collection of modern, revitalized tracks with a mix of Bennington’s original ’90s vocals and vocal contributions from friends and colleagues of Chester. With that, the album captures the originality and ever-evolving individuality of a young artist as they create sounds and poetry out of emotion, failed relationships, the ebbs and flows of young life and everything in between.
The music captures the raw emotion of Bennington as he creates from the perspective of a man in his early twenties, some of the most formative and exhilarating years of a person’s life. From the very first notes of grungy opening track “Sickness,” it is evident that this album is focused on conveying introspective emotion. “Sometimes” is a shining example of the artistry Bennington possessed throughout his most youthful and angst-ridden days. The loud, aggressive track rumored to be written by Chester after an especially difficult breakup is a testament to the incomparable energy that surrounds the most sad, confusing and heartbreaking parts of youth. “Just Like Heroin” offers some of the most open and honest lyrical dialogue on the album as it examines the relationship between the drug and the premature deaths of many young musicians. “Soul Song” carries on the overarching instrumental themes that revolve around loud and cantankerous ballads that coincide with emotion-filled, stunning vocal arrangements from Bennington.
“She Shines” possesses a similar testament to Bennington’s ability to take raw, unprocessed and dark emotion—that which surely caused him a great deal of pain and angst—and express it in a musical form. This in itself requires a lot from the artist: they must be vulnerable in order to allow for their work to be heard by, connected to and appreciated by others. In doing so, artists create the defining quality of music as the great connector. That is music at its core, and that’s what this album represents with regard to the memory of Bennington. Its darker lyrical themes allude to the unfortunate reality of Bennington’s life that became clear after his suicide. But with this dark comes light: the opportunity for fans of Bennington to experience his artistry in its purest form, and the opportunity for any music fan to be reminded of the emotional roller coaster of youth. For these reasons, Amends is truly a testament to the musical craft.