Review Summary: Amends was made with good intentions, but misses the point entirely.
Posthumous releases tend to reside on unstable foundations. It is inherent with these types of projects due to it all being defined on context and how much quality material the handler has to work with. Demand is the biggest problem; on the one hand people just want to enjoy more music from their favourite deceased artists, but in that demand you’ve got to look at the reality behind the situation: the ramifications it could have on the artist’s legacy, and more importantly, where that material is coming from. For instance, George Michael was very stringent on what he released, and he alone determined what was deemed worthy for public consumption – his given right to preserve the image he wanted to be perceived. Which brings up the moral point of, should the beneficiary of an artist’s archives go against their wishes – by releasing something they probably never wanted to have seen the light of day – just to accommodate the public and/or label demand? It’s food for thought that has me analysing such releases, and ultimately, it’s quite rare that the archived material ever amounts to anything next to the work they did when they were alive.
In the case of Amends
, thankfully, you can tell it was made with love. No, the detriments here aren’t shackled to soulless, money-grubbing desires, but of unorthodox writing restrictions. For those unaware, Grey Daze was the band Chester started out in before he joined Linkin Park. In 2017, just before his tragic suicide, Chester was about to rekindle Grey Daze’s flame with rehearsals, and the desire to bring the band back into the game. After his untimely death though, the rest of the band wanted to pay tribute to Chester by releasing an album that he would have been proud of, using a load of archived vocal material as a means to make it a reality. As the band states in their mini-documentary to promote Amends
, the writing process was centred entirely around Chester’s vocal work – this is definitely the smoking gun on why Amends
sounds so intrinsically off
. It is not that the LP is particularly bad, but it’s a certifiable reason on why I felt complete ambivalence towards everything it had to show me. The main caveat is that Chester’s vocals and melodies just aren’t up to snuff here; they perpetuate an unflinching feeling of rough demo ideas, or things that just weren’t good enough to see the light of day twenty-some years ago.
This in turn has affected the music built around the vocals – a consistent barrage of indifferent and soporific late-nineties rock jingles that scarcely contain their own identity and weight. The wispy production on the likes of “Sickness” and “What’s in the Eye” lacks crucial staying power, both instrumentally and vocally, and it’s hard to fully comprehend the direction the band wanted to go in with their sound. Superficially it aims at being an alt-rock record, but generally it lacks the hallmarks to successfully hit that goal. Everything sounds fragile; a delicate gossamer that could be ripped apart by a brick if it were thrown at these compositions. The sonic approach, coupled with the iffy vocal takes, just doesn’t meld well at all, but when you couple that with a production that sounds completely barren and one-dimensional, it fails to capture a solid vibe for long.
It comes with a heavy heart to be so hard on Grey Daze, especially when there are earnest intentions behind it all, but unfortunately the material they had to work with just wasn’t strong enough to bring any memorability to the table. When you couple that with the bland alt-rock instrumentals and the peppering of electronics, as well as the pretty bad production, it just makes the situation that much more forgettable. Ironically, in the band’s attempts at highlighting just how great of an artist Chester Bennington was, Amends
becomes the antithesis of that and fails to display any of his amazing prowess. The most perplexing thing about all of this is these recordings were pulled from a time where he should have been brimming with angsty fire – his voice at its most nimble and raw – but Amends
lacks all of those qualities and just sounds like a bunch of dry and tired performances. Odd moments of intrigue pop up from time to time. “She Shines” displays fleeting snippets of raw emotion over chunky guitars, while “In Time”’s surging, punchy, melodious hooks bring some recognition of greatness to the forefront, but overall, the majority of the album seems pretty content with functioning on passive, prosaic ideas with little staying power.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: