REVIEW: GREY DAZE – “Amends”
A promising group who went largely undiscovered, a strong back catalog that has remained long out of print, an exciting revival that almost was but will now never be: these are just some of the talking points that surround the band, Grey Daze. The once Phoenix-based quartet comprised of drummer Sean Dowdell, bass player Mace Beyers, and guitarist Cristin Davis are best known for being the outfit Chester Bennington cut his teeth in during the ’90s before joining, Linkin Park. Bennington, who passed away suddenly in July 2017, had an inimitable and instantly recognizable voice that lent itself to a wide range of artists and projects. Perhaps none as integral to his development as Grey Daze. Now, on April 10, fans can hear the vocalist, once again, on Grey Daze’s record ‘Amends’. An album featuring newly recorded music with re-mastered vocals from the late front-man that documents him from as early as 17 years of age. An irresistible gem for L.P elites, “Amends” proved to be a damn good listen for any music lover willing to give it a spin.
‘Amends’ doesn’t rely on sentiment to earn its plaudits. “B12”, featuring guitarists Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Shaffer of Korn, is a shining example of a good song standing on its own two feet. Many of Chester’s most memorable moments struck a faultless balance between an air of grounded melancholy and spiraling upset, combined with a vulnerability to the lyrics that sometimes made them all too real. This, against a musically dream-like, ethereal backdrop, makes “B12” early evidence of a promise of brilliance.
“In Time” sees Grey Daze reining back their heavier edge in favor of a more unconventional ballad. Structured in three parts, “In Time” quietly introduces itself with some delicate performances before dramatically kicking off to shatter, echo-like, into its final moments. If “In Time” falls down, it is in its piano’s melodic hook. While the melody itself sits within the instrumentation beautifully, sonically its production feels out of place, feeling like an arbitrary newspaper collage.
It comes as little surprise that ‘Amends’ boasts a plethora of producers and engineers. This, unfortunately, creates a self-consciousness and inconsistency that often leaves a lot to be desired, tweaking your attention far too regularly. Leading track “Sickness” suffers from this firstly in its solo section, which produces a noise that, if created organically, could only come from a crying violin stuck in a spit riddled tin-whistle. Then there’s its rhythm section, notably the drums, which are timid and lack any real punch. Yet if it falls short here, there are times when this attribute works wonderfully in the favor of the record. “Soul Song” emits exactly what its title suggests. Void of any saturating polish, this engaging moment of the post, alternative-grunge creates a space to enjoy Grey Daze in their purest form.
It would miss the point, and heart of this record, to heavily fault ‘Amends‘ on its consistent production issues. Even if you could easily argue the opposite. A record spilling over with well-written songs and an exuberant spirit, ‘Amends’ is quite the public affair, and one of painfully private moments. Gifting a warm welcome and a heartfelt goodbye through some great songs and beautiful performances. Capturing the spirit of Grey Daze, ‘Amends’ celebrates their wild, youthful origins and the heart that beat at the center of it all. For Chester Bennington was the heart of any project his name was attached to. Which makes this experience just that little bit special.