From the moment that iconic scream rips open the sublime Saturation, it’s clear that this is no careless cash-in. With drummer/backing vocalist Sean Dowdell doing a mean Mike Shinoda impression, Starting To Fly is swollen into a thrilling bridge between the post-grunge and nu-metal eras. Here Near By, with its massive ‘I wanna be your man!’ chorus, is a slice of exceptional ’90s alt.rock that offers poignant perspective on some of the grittier cuts from Chester’s later career. Anything, Anything is a heart-aching 100mph banger that feels, as much as anything Grey Daze have offered, like a lost classic of its era.
A few famous faces crop up to lend their support, too. Jane’s Addiction legend Dave Navarro, for instance, garlands Holding You with a pyrotechnic guitar-solo. Filter’s Richard Patrick – apparently a big influence on Chester’s own work – is masterfully mixed into Believe Me for an entrancing duet. No cameo is more affecting or important, mind, than that of Chester’s daughters, Lily and Lila, whose vocals elevate the aluminium tangle of Hole onto another emotional plane. It’s one of a few moments where the inherent bittersweetness of the situation almost overwhelms The Phoenix.
In the end, of course, those clouds will clear and this set of songs, like the rest of the great man’s music, will live forever.
For fans of: Linkin Park, Soundgarden, Filter
The Phoenix is out now via Loma Vista
Read this: Family, fortitude and Grey Daze: The making of Chester Bennington