By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
It still stings me that we lost one of the most prolific and talented rock singers of the 21st century in Chester Bennington. He was a soulful artist who poured his heart into the creative that was Linkin Park. Before he joined the legendary nu metal outfit, Chester was part of another group in the 90s that was very influential in post-grunge/alternative rock scene. They called themselves as Grey Daze. I will admit, I never knew about this band until recently. Chester founded that group with drummer Sean Dowdell, where they put out three albums before Chester departed from the Phoenix outfit in 1998. Many years later, the surviving members of Grey Daze have put together a brand new album that features Bennington’s vocals from the 1990s, without any changes. They call it Amends, and it features a selection of tunes from Grey Daze’s early records Wake Me and no sun today. Re-recording the music and adding some guest artists, this is Chester’s last gift to the world.
First up is “Sickness,” it is so weird to hear how youthful Chester sounds. His voice is haunting and somber, hypnotizing the listener into a trance. Guitarist Cristin Davis and bassist Mace Beyers bring sweet, post-grunge riffs into the modern sound. Add in the guitar distortion of Page Hamilton (Helmet), and this opener grabs hold of you. “Sometimes” is a raw, hard rock number where Chester layers in the screams and melody together almost harmoniously. Bush guitarist Chris Traynor adds his tasty licks to go along with Davis’ righteous solo. A song of holding on to hope, I believe listeners will identify with Chester’s pain. “What’s In The Eye,” which has a thick, bouncy bass riff played nicely by Beyers, is gut wrenching to its core. Traynor and P.O.D.’s Marcos Curiel add their alternative nu metal swag, and it kicks ass. “The Syndrome” has an electronic feel to the beat, reminiscent to the later recordings of Linkin Park. Sean’s son Carston Dowdell handles the drums beautifully while Cara Faye provides backing vocals. Carston crushes the drumbeats, while you still feel Chester’s anguish.
Up next is “In Time.” The ticking of the clock signals time is so slow. A piano inspired ballad that brings much beauty with the sadness surrounding the song. Orgy’s Ryan Shuck chimes in with his guitar riffs. The evolution of Chester’s voice astounds me on this tune. “Just Like Heroin” takes a dark turn that features Beyers’ crunchy bass riffs and Davis’ heavy guitar licks. Like the drug, I was hooked into the melancholy lyrics, as if Chester is welcoming the deadly narcotic as a friend. Throw in the lingering keyboard work of Jamie Muhoberac, you be addicted as well. “B12” is one of Amends more heavy tunes. Featuring the mighty riff power of Korn’s Munky and Head, Grey Daze takes a shot at capitalism greed and government lies. Armed with a bombastic drum kick by Brennen Brochard, this song aims straight Greed’s heart, and they do not miss. “Soul Song” is just too lovely to describe. I see this tune as an ode to a better life and embracing God’s warmth. Jean Yves D’Angelo mesmerizes on the piano, while Chester’s own son, Jamie, sings with his dad. A touching father and son moment. Though gone, Chester was in the booth with Jamie, both bringing the house down.
“Morei Sky” brings more emotion to the record. D’Angelo continues to bring sweet harmonies to the piano, while Davis’ guitar riffs are stunningly coordinated with Chester’s pure voice. A song about receiving a second chance, we all hope not to squander it once given to us. Chester strikes a chord with us. We come to “She Shines,” where the heaviness has been brought back to its feet. Korn’s Head once again slays the riffs with Davis, while Sean keeps the drumming to a simple yet powerful beat, making the song more impactful. Chester continues to soar with his impressive range, especially in the end where he gives it all he has to his last breath. We finally reach the last song “Shouting Out.” This song pulls at the heartstrings to the point where tears may shed. Laura “LP” Pergolizzi adds her angelic voice, meshing nicely with Chester. It ends with a voicemail from Chester, probably to his wife. His final words were “I love you, and I’ll talk to you soon.” A fitting farewell from him.
I wish I could have seen Grey Daze in their heyday with Chester, young and full of potential. Just listening to him with this band was amazing because even back then, you know he was destined for greatness. I see Amends as Chester’s last goodbye to his family, friends, and family. The remastered music is stunning, and each guest artist did not hold anything back to make this record a memorable. Put together by Loma Vista Recordings, I hope Grey Daze will get the opportunity once again to share the music they created with Chester live, if they can someone who can match his spirit. To Grey Daze, I salute you. Horns up!!!
What’s In the Eye
Just Like Heroin
Follow Grey Daze on their social media: