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POST TRAUMATIC IS A SPECTACULAR POST-TRAUMATIC ALBUM. A HEALING RECORD.
Mike Shinoda released his new album Post Traumatic, today, and is being consumed by many eager fans right now. The album starts with the three tracks he released as the EP a few months back, opening with ‘Place to Start’ – a really obvious and perfect introduction to his journey. However, like many Linkin Park fans, ‘Over Again’ is where it truly starts. We relate to it in a very anomalous way. Let’s face it, we didn’t know Chester Bennington, and yet, like Shinoda, we’re grieving. Listening to this track, absorbing the sound, the lyrics, in a silent space, you can truly hear that he was living it as he was recording it. You feel the build up of the grief. In the chorus you have the sadness and the pain. In the verses you have the anger and the fear. This track is perhaps the rawest for me.
Shinoda hasn’t shied away from exposing his vulnerabilities on his online platforms or in his music, which is something I have a lot of respect for. As his third track, ‘Watching as I Fall’ stipulates, everybody is watching his actions, and watching his reactions.
‘My inside’s out, my left is right, my upside’s down, my black is white, I hold my breath, I close my eyes, and wait for dawn, but there’s no light.’ – ‘Nothing Makes Sense Anymore’
Although Shinoda’s solo sound is somewhat different to that of Linkin Park’s, his ability to write a memorable chorus is incredible, and the music itself is emotive. I’m not a fan of instrumentals, I like lyrics to relate to (and shout out, at the top of my lungs, in the car), or to understand the narrative of the author, but Shinoda has captivated me with his instrumental ‘Brooding’, I was right there with him, I could feel that sense of being inside myself, the many voices, questions, anxieties.
There is definitely a lost and found element to this album. He’s lost direction, he’s finding direction. He’s lost his friend, he’s rediscovering himself. He lost control, he regains control. It really is a roller-coaster.
‘And they’ll tell you I don’t care anymore, and I hope you’ll know that’s a lie…this is not a goodbye now, I’m not going away, no I don’t have the answers, but I do have the faith.’ – ‘Crossing a Line’
The album also feels like a message to the Linkin Park family, and perhaps to his friends and family too.
‘I’m just trying to hold my shit together, together, darlin’ ‘ – ‘Hold it Together’
Shinoda’s ‘Hold it Together’ track is something that many of us have felt, and it’s so encouraging almost, to have someone else feel the same way – but then again, that’s what bonded the Linkin Park family in the first place. Throughout the past six months particularly, Shinoda has been helping many fans hold their shit together, as much as I think the fans have helped him.
‘So I play along, I nod my head when they say I’m wrong, but each night falls and away I run, on the other side until the daylight comes.’ – ‘Ghosts’
The album contains some amazing collaborations, but K. Flay is my favourite – what a voice! It pierces your soul. The album, as a whole, exudes a strong emotional charge, and even the track that I was least impressed by, ended up winning me over by the end of the 2:43. Don’t hate on me, I rarely like every track on an album. To counter that thought, there is also a little treasure buried within all the tracks. A song which has a completely unique feel against the backdrop of the rest of Post Traumatic, possibly because Shinoda sings all the way through, no rapping, and is clearly a message to his wife. It’s the penultimate song on the album, giving a slightly more hopeful resolution to the record.
In short, this album is a record of Shinoda’s grieving. It has the emotional obstacles he’s faced, and facing, rendered in song. It is a vessel in which he shares with you his heart, his soul, his journey. The only thing I wish was different about the album, would have been the inclusion of his song ‘Looking for an Answer’ which he debuted at the Linkin Park & Friends Celebrate Life in Honor of Chester Bennington in Los Angeles, late last year.
I am so pleased for Shinoda. He has made Chester proud, I’m sure. But most importantly, I think he’s made himself proud. I find the death of Chester very hard sometimes, a sadness which is perhaps more profound than it should be towards someone I didn’t know, and yet it seems to be quite normal when you talk to other people when someone they admire pass away. But it’s important to understand that the impact his passing has had on those who did know him is clearly massive for many reasons, and Shinoda’s album demonstrates this in a passionate and acute way. This will be my healing record.
Linkin Park’s MC shares the battles he’s dealing with since Chester Bennington’s death last Summer.
It’s taken me a while to write this one up as it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster when it comes to all things Chester Bennington, and Mike Shinoda’s three-track EP, entitled Post Traumatic, is part of that ride.
Linkin Park’s fan-base have been hit hard by the passing of Chester Bennington, with many fans having used their music to help them get through their own struggles with depression and anxiety for nearly two decades. The immense impact his death has had on their supporters has been palpable from the moment the news broke last summer. That said, nothing could really match the grief and struggle that his family and his band mates must be feeling, especially Mike Shinoda whose bond with Chester was tangible. For Shinoda and the other members of Linkin Park, an extra layer of anxiety comes with Chester’s death: what do they do now? This is explored in Shinoda’s aptly titled Post Traumatic EP – the battle between losing a friend, a band brother, and seeing his life’s work under threat. ‘Place to Start’ is a track questioning that outlook. It is an anxious track about new beginnings, at a time he felt he was at the top. It’s a track that acknowledges that with the death of his friend, he fears the death of his career is following. It’s a very honest admission.
It is the second track, ‘Over Again’, that has arrested the Linkin Park family (the fans) the most. It’s a song they could relate to. The anxiety represented in ‘Place to Start’ continues, focusing on having to perform without Chester. As a life-long fan of Linkin Park, I can honestly say that when they performed the memorial concert, as the lump catches in Shinoda’s throat, it does with all of us. There were tears in the audience, and tears at home from the people who streamed the concert online. When the band played ‘Numb’ with an empty spotlit mic, it was difficult to watch. It was difficult to listen to. ‘Over Again’ is a receptacle for Shinoda’s anger towards the situation too – which is part of the grieving process. These emotions can be heard in Shinoda’s voice, making this track raw, and he must be admired by allowing the world to see his vulnerabilities and fears.
To conclude this confessional EP, ‘Watching as I fall’ is the best produced of the three tracks, and perhaps the saddest. As the chorus kicks in, there is an impending sense that Chester’s vocals are about to feature, and this impacts on the impression of the track.
The EP seems structured in such a way that it takes you on an emotional journey, leaving you feeling the same uncertainty of the future that Shinoda clearly feels. And although it draws out the sadness and grief in us all, I’m happy that Shinoda decided to share this with us.
No one knows what’s going to happen with Linkin Park in the future. In a Q&A with the fans recently, Shinoda said he’s going to focus on some solo projects for a little bit, to see how they develop. It’s hard, as a fan, to see Shinoda feeling lost in such anxiety. But it’s also be uplifting to see the Linkin Park family support him and encourage him.
Chester Bennington (1976-2017)
Chester Bennington (1976-2017), lead singer of US nu metal band Linkin Park, tragically passed away July 20, 2017, by suicide, leaving behind his wife Talinda Ann Bentley, and his six children Jaime, Isaiah, Draven, Tyler and twins Lilly and Lila.
The day would have been Chris Cornell’s 53rd Birthday, lead singer of Soundgarden, whose death by suicide occurred just two months before on May 18, 2017.
Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory is one of the US’s best selling albums of all time, currently at 28 on Billboards Greatest Albums of All Time, and was one of the most significant albums in many angst-ridden teenagers’ lives at the start of the 21st Century. Seven years later Linkin Park and Soundgarden united with a tour that ultimately created a bond that was more significant than the music industry could have ever imagined.
The incredible unity between Bennington and Cornell is palpable, as can be seen in their performances of ‘Hunger Strike’ and ‘Crawling’ together. This kinship continued off stage, with Bennington taking on the role of godfather for Cornell’s son, Christopher, who was born in December of 2005.
When you look at the history of these two men, it is no surprise that they formed such a significant connection with the other. Both Bennington and Cornell suffered their own battles with depression and substance abuse, whilst at the same time feeding these emotions into their music, each becoming successful musicians in their own right.
The day Cornell’s death was announced Linkin Park were scheduled to record a live performance for Jimmy Kimmel Live, to promote their new album One More Light. They were to perform their single ‘Heavy’, a song which features singer Kiiara, however, due to the death of Cornell, the band decided that performing ‘One More Light’ was the right choice for that performance, a song about the loss of a friend.
Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda spoke to radio.com and said ‘When we were doing a sound check Chester couldn’t even make it through the song, he was getting half way through and getting choked up, and even when we did play the whole song…he kinda just stopped right towards the end, like he missed the last couple of lines of it, and he just couldn’t finish the song.’
The same day Bennington penned an emotional letter to Cornell, with the pain of losing his friend emanating from every word:
I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look on my wife’s face. She told me my friend has just passed away. Thoughts of you flood my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moment with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivaled. Your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video of you singing ‘A day in the life’ by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life.
With all of my love.
The impact of this friendship resonates true in the rawness of Bennington’s vocals as he sang Leonard Coen’s ‘Hallelujah’ at Cornell’s funeral on May 26, 2017.
It’s difficult not to at least acknowledge the potential significance of date that Bennington chose to end his life. The pain he must have been feeling we will never know.
Cornell’s widow, Vicky, expressed her own sadness at the news of Bennington’s passing, tweeting ‘Just when I thought my heart couldn’t break anymore … I love you’.
So for now, repetitive thrashings of all things Linkin Park and Soundgarden, is my way of celebrating the friendship and music of these two men. Something that can never die.