Rock and roll is hard on a guy, and more than a few singers have achieved success only to end their days early. Stress kills, and it took Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Chester Bennington in 2017. We best remember him for the certified diamond debut album with Linkin Park and their platinum selling release Hybrid Theory. But what most fans don’t know are the missing songs from his first band Grey Daze. In 2017 the band set out to re-master those early works, but Bennington’s untimely death stopped the project. Warner Brothers tried to erase any knowledge of the record so as not to interfere with their own marketing. But now Amends is finally here, and it’s a solid piece of 1990’s grunge rock.
The track “Just Like Heroine” drips of the pangs of withdrawal, bloody and raw and unending. The singer lies dying on the floor, and now he sees himself for the first and maybe last time. It’s not a song, it’s a mini rock opera. Next the dark, threatening chords of “B12” quickly pour out from an angry man. The anger is unfocused, leaving the guitar chords to provide what clarity may be had in on other tortuous byway in this doomed young man’s labyrinth of pain. Are there no love songs here? No happiness? No safety?
In “Soul Song” Bennington has a rare moment of peace. “She sings with her eyes closed” but “She dreams of the pain.” Even the love song sounds like a cold turkey in a cheap hotel room. How much pain can one man endure? Let’s track one more song. “Sickness” seems promising. Bennington opens up with the statement “I’m a whore and I’m feeling sorry for myself.” The downward spiral continues, the emotions rip you open, and music is all grey clouds, waiting for the perfect moment of pain to let loose even more bad news. This is teen angst sung by a man just old enough to recall the experience, the skills to convey the pain, and still sort of resignation to stay on key and in time. That path still lay in Bennington’s future when he sang it, but you can sense his end. When he sang these lines, a platinum album lay just ahead, but couldn’t save him. This is where he gets on the pain bus and to pay his dues, but he can’t get off.