Emotional angst, in mourning
Grey Daze has had worse days, but none as bad as those before. A pair of albums were released by Phoenix-based group Grey Daze in the ’90s. But January 29th, 2021 marked the debut of their new five-song EP called Amends…Stripped. Each song debuts newfound instrumentation, combining their old sound with a new take in honor of their departed singer, Chester Bennington.
Bennington got his start as the frontman for Linkin Park in the early 2000s, expressing his angst-ridden scream on stages around the world. His voice was fragile, almost somber with each turn of the chorus. Years and years of fame took a toll on him mentally, though he was always open with his addiction and depression issues. Though his death in 2017 shocked everyone close to him, the next few years were set to be legendary.
Before his passing, he had planned a reunion with Grey Daze and fired ideas at his bandmates. Bennington regrouped with bassist Mace Beyers, guitarist Cristin Davis and drummer Sean Dowdell with plans to re-record old material. Though it was incomplete, the remaining members of Grey Daze released the 11-song album Amends with the blessing of Bennington’s family. All music released after his death is meant to honor Bennington, even this stripped-down EP of acoustic songs from the original Amends album.
“Shouting Out” is slow and somber but centers itself around Bennington. In an interview with Revolver Magazine, Dowdell explains, “we scaled everything back and tried to emphasize Chester’s vocals in a different light.” This is an emotional song, almost a conversation with Bennington and the listener. It plays heavily on post-mortem sadness, though it keeps you engaged for the entirety of the song.
To get chills, listen to “Sometimes,” as it is perhaps the best song, musically speaking. Davis’s guitar strings lend a beautiful harmony, which flows nicely with Bennington’s angst-ridden vocals. To further evoke emotion, Beyers’ 12-string bass connects the chorus and the verses nicely, making a distinct interlude in between each line. This track is well-orchestrated and natural, despite the reworking of the vocals.
“Soul Song” is quite spiritual. A melancholic piano offers an asynchronous melody with the vocals. Each bridge then is heightened with Bennington’s known shouting, delivering the crispness of a young Linkin Park frontman. Davis’s strumming is a bit arid, leaving substantial gaps between the piano and vocals. Though without the strums, this song would lack the depth it deserves.
Originally written by Dowdell and Bennington, “What’s In the Eye” pays homage to an old friend and their death in a car accident. Loss, life lessons and emotion are the pillars of this song, as Bennington reminds us of what early losses can do to our life. An existential shout at the end pushes this agenda further, though the build-up is what makes it last.
The final song of this EP, “The Syndrome,” is the only track that remained untouched. Recorded live in 1997, Beyers is joined by guitarist Bobby Benish to join as a 12-string guitar duo. Benish also passed before this EP, suffering from brain cancer until his death in 2004.
While Grey Daze has had a tumultuous band career, their return to the world of music is all in good taste. Amends…Stripped EP pays homage to many things. Though in reality, it embodies the spirit of Bennington, Dowdell, Beyers and everyone who assisted their journey. This album is healing not only for the band members but for those affected by loss in any situation. However, Bennington’s signature voice carries this message into the heavens with him.