Mike Shinoda pays tribute to the late Chester Bennington while also examining his own grief in new EP, Post Traumatic.
Chester Bennington’s passing was surprisingly emotional. It was so unexpected, and most people lumped Linkin Park into their nostalgic middle school playlists. Following a tribute concert to Bennington, the band are still figuring out how to carry forward from here. As fans wait, rhythm guitarist has released the Post Traumatic EP about his coping and his career going forward.
Listen: ‘Post Traumatic’ – Mike Shinoda
Post Traumatic shows reflections of where Linkin Park may be if they had zigged instead of zagged. Even though they kicked off their career with rap metal, they ended up going down more of a path where they felt like a rock band just influenced by rap. Shinoda’s EP sounds like Linkin Park if they were a rap group, influenced by heavy metal. Shinoda sprinkles in distorted guitars and monstrous drums into trap-inspired beats. “Place to Start” sounds like it could’ve been a Drake B-side. Other than the subdued opener, these songs are arena-ready. The confessional “Over Again” is reminiscent of Recovery-era Eminem, and “Watching As I Fall” is an emotional tirade before it launches into an explosive track. The chorus is instantly catchy yet severely haunting.
The only criticism of these tracks is that they sound rushed out. Shinoda’s ideas don’t sound fully thought out. This is most well evidenced when “Place to Start” cuts off abruptly and leads into voicemails that people left him after Bennington’s death. This doesn’t hurt the tracks by any means. He lost a friend, and that’s reflected. These songs feed off Shinoda’s fresh wounds as opposed to be the most musically worked out. Those voicemails are one of the most powerful moments, even if they seem a little random during the first listen.
Throughout the EP, it feels like Shinoda is saying everything he wanted to in interviews. It’s been about six months, and he’s had time to really think about what he wants to say, and “Over Again” is a fitting farewell for Bennington:
Sometimes you don’t get to say goodbye once
You say goodbye over and over and over again.
Throughout the first verse, he shows his anxiety over the tribute concert and his return to the stage without Bennington.
We said we ought to play a show in honor of our friend
Well now that show’s finally here, it’s tonight
Supposed to go to the bowl, get on stage, dim the lights
With our friends and our family, in his name, celebrate
There’s no way that I’ll be ready to get back up on that stage
Can’t remember if I’ve cancelled any show
But I think about what I’m supposed to do and I don’t know
Cause I think about not doing it the same way as before
And it makes me wanna puke my fucking guts out on the floor
We rehearsed it for a month, I’m not worried about the set
I get tackled by the grief at times that I would least expect
I know what I should be doing when I’m singing but instead
We’ll be playing through a song and I’d remember in my head
The EP closes as Shinoda fights with himself for a sense of closure as he raps, “Still upset from shit that’s 15 years old / I don’t know what it takes to make me let go.” His vocals are tense throughout this EP, and every word can make your heart sink.
All in all, this wasn’t an EP to kick the Linkin Park camp or Shinoda’s career back into gear. This seemed more like therapeutic work that Shinoda put in to cope with the loss of his friend and bandmate. The songs aren’t bad. They’re a series of tender, emotional moments, and it’s a good window into someone grieving. Shinoda is being transparent with his fans to show how the last few months have been for him, and we’re fortunate enough to just get to listen.
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photo © Mike Shinoda
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