Because Dead by Sunrise is a side project for Linkin Park
singer Chester Bennington, listeners will inevitably draw comparisons between the two bands. But while there are certain similarities, Dead by Sunrise’s debut album, Out of Ashes
, finds Bennington moving away from rap-rock and embracing different styles, including moody modern rock and the occasional punk-ish rip-snorter. More of a showcase for Bennington’s other musical interests rather than a bold new direction, Out of Ashes
is a sturdy collection of rock songs that will be of interest to Linkin Park fans as an alternative to that band’s sound.
Romantic Angst With a Polished Tone
Before the release of Out of Ashes, Bennington stressed that Dead by Sunrise would not replace Linkin Park as his primary creative outlet. Also, he noted that the Out of Ashes material was written before the recording of LP’s last album, 2007’s Minutes to Midnight, so as to show that Dead by Sunrise wasn’t interfering with Linkin Park’s work on their next record. It’s tempting, then, to see Out of Ashes as an expression of Bennington’s unfiltered muse, despite the fact that Dead by Sunrise also includes five other members, some of whom are in the industrial group Orgy. Nonetheless, Out of Ashes feels reminiscent of Minutes to Midnight in that both albums have little interest in hip-hop textures, instead cozying up to the layered, introspective sounds of alternative rock. Icy keyboards are prominent on many tracks, and the guitars have a slick, synthesized feel. Perhaps intentionally, Out of Ashes’ most notable sonic feature is that its 12 tracks consciously avoid anything that might make the album seem like just another Linkin Park record. This means little of the metal-tinged aggression and swing of Bennington’s regular band. Instead, Out of Ashes’ romantic angst has a polished, smooth tone.
Chester Bennington Opens Up
According to Bennington, Out of Ashes
speaks candidly about his divorce and drinking problems. Even if one didn’t know that, though, the songs make it clear that the frontman is battling with a lot of anguish. From the rousing lament “Fire” that opens the album to the closer “In the Darkness” – an acoustic-guitar-and-programmed-beats number that’s reminiscent of Radiohead
– Bennington wears his emotions on his sleeve. Some will complain that Bennington has made an entire career of whining about his problems, but with producer Howard Benson
dressing up his misery in a sharp, glossy sheen, Out of Ashes
makes sadness sound gloriously sweet. In fact, the album is at its weakest when Bennington moves away from his personal woes – the buzzing “End of the World” is a snotty, tired rant about all of society’s problems, which include television, violence, gas prices and anything else the singer can think of. Bennington’s much better when he’s complaining about his personal life than when he’s reading the newspaper for lyrical inspiration.
Pick a Style, Any Style
Perhaps to a fault, Dead by Sunrise enjoy bouncing around from style to style on Out of Ashes
. As a result, the album can feel more like a sampler than a confident expression of their sonic personality, but they manage to make good songs in each format that they attempt. If you’re looking for a Killers-like breakup ballad, try “Let Down,” which suggests the influence that Orgy members Ryan Shuck and Amir Derakh had on this project. Or, if you’re in a trippy Pink Floyd
mood, “Give Me Your Name” has a similar, vaguely drugged-out vibe. And with “My Suffering,” Dead by Sunrise recall the furious energy of Nirvana
or the Vines
. As with a lot of side projects, Dead by Sunrise exists largely to give Bennington and his cohorts a chance to try things they can’t do in their normal bands. You’ll probably prefer those bands to Dead by Sunrise, but Out of Ashes
demonstrates that like the rest of us, musicians don’t like to be pigeonholed. Everyone should be allowed to stretch their wings a little, right?
'Out of Ashes' – Best Tracks:
“Let Down” (Purchase/Download
“My Suffering” (Purchase/Download
“Give Me Your Name” (Purchase/Download
“In the Darkness” (Purchase/Download
Release date – October 13, 2009
Warner Bros. Records