Grey Daze, the once rough around the edges grunge rock band that played an important part in the creation of a legendary rock star, have today released what may be the ultimate tribute to the one and only Chester Bennington. Having released two albums 'Wake Me' (1994) and 'No Sun Today' (1997), Amends takes songs from both with an entirely new instrumental arrangement constructed around them. With the help of a host of the band's and Chester's friends and family recruited to help make it happen including Brian 'Head' Welch and James 'Munky' Shaffer of Korn, Page Hamilton of Helmet, Chris Traynor of Helmet and Bush, LP (Laura Pergolizzi), Jasen Rauch of Breaking Benjamin, Marcos Curiel of P.O.D., Ryan Shuck of Orgy and of course Chester's own son Jaime Bennington.
The context behind this album is perhaps the most extraordinary preface to the release itself. From the fact that Chester's vocals are taken from old tapes stumbled across by one of the band member's in their attic to the process of it's creation, the collaborative production and end result which is nothing short of pristine and excellent.
The fact that Amends was originally meant to be released with Chester leaves both a sour taste and air of poignancy though given the emotionally charged and beautifully re-imagined tracks that represent this release it is hard to not be anything other than truly thankful and in awe that this album has come to fruition.
Right off the back of the first single release 'What's In The Eye' the first staggering observation is how incredibly clear, crisp and in his prime Chester sounds. This is both a testament to the quality on his voice even from his teenage days and in turn the creative process taken to build the instrumentation around the vocals, a process of recording that was new to all members of the band and many of those involved. Opener 'Sickness' has an air of late 90's nu metal (which is no surprise) though as an introduction the listener will find themselves transported right back instantly. 'Sometimes' may then come as a surprise as tackling mental health issues head on from the young frontman that had just begun on his musical journey.
A highlight comes in the form of 'Soul Song', a song that sounds as if it could have made the deluxe version of Hybrid Theory or Meteora era Linkin Park particularly with its incredibly subtle piano synth that chimes in during the chorus. You cannot escape the feeling with this song that this feels like Chester's swan song and an ode to those left behind with the beautiful opening line "I will be waiting with a song in my soul", is there really more of an apt line to offer. This juxtaposed with the fact that it was written so long ago leaves a feeling of both astonishment and closure. On top of this, the music video was directed by Chester's son who also provided vocals on the re-imagined song which adds an extra layer of emotion.
'Morei Sky' offers the second landmark moment particularly with the lyrics in the chorus "If I had a second chance i'd make amends, only to find myself losing in the end." which feels initially like a bit of a jab to the gut though progresses and builds to a pride-filled anthem. Elsewhere tracks 'B12' and 'She Shines' provide the grit and riffs to the album and particularly in the latter the rumblings of Hybrid Theory era Chester can be seen seeping through.
The album closer 'Shouting Out' is as emotional as you would expect from it's somber piano tune to the rawness and passion heard when Chester's vocal come in. The song feels like an apology and is perhaps the hardest to swallow on the entire album. The instrumentation built around this cleverly invokes a feeling of hope and closure and the contrast of these two elements that feature for the remainder of the song with the inclusion of the emotive outblast of backing vocals draw out the album phenomenally.
We have seen releases from bands following the tragic loss of a member and often they can be criticised in terms of the stylistic delivery and means taken to do so. There is absolutely no disputing here that Amends was meticulously crafted in order to be Chester and Grey Daze's final offering to the world and what an offering it is. For some fans this will be a painful reminder of the loss of the incredible voice of an incredible human, for others it may provide healing, for some it may invoke happiness and hope or it may even give you a bit of everything and that is the beauty of this music. Amends will remain a timeless tribute whilst also providing the equivalent of the sequel and prequel to Chester's life before and after he became the superstar. Truly stunning.