There comes a time in all of our lives where we stand in the face of our greatest opponent: ourselves. We are the product of a lifetime worth of love, anger, sadness, happiness, and pain. From those negative experiences come our demons, the memories and the constant questions of "what could have been" that haunt us every day.
The world has been mourning Chester Bennington since he passed, but the people who were damaged the most by it were undoubtedly his family and his bandmates; and some would say there's not really a difference between the two. The band have been here for the fans as the fans have been there for them through these last six months, and the scars are still healing. Mike Shinoda has been doing his own healing, and in the past months he's been coping with the pain in the best way he nows how: his art. Today, Mike Shinoda goes face to face with his demons in the Post Traumatic EP, channeling the last 6 months of pain and insecurity into truly powerful songs that have him wear his heart on his sleeve.
There's few words that can really describe just how powerful Post Traumatic is. It's highly visceral, a catharsis of the highest degree. The short 'Place To Start' introduces the record, the ambience of intro leading into a sweet, unassuming electronic instrumental with the occasional rising cymbal to add some drama. The real magic behind this song is all in Shinoda's voice. The song finds him trying to understand the messiness of his mind, attempting to find clarity in the chaos of his life. The very first lyrics of the EP are tragic in every way imaginable, Shinoda somberly admitting "I don't have a leg to stand on / Spinning like a whirlwind nothing to land on." The ethereal nature of the instrumental brings the grief a step further, making it feel like it's not just something that's internal, it's all around him almost like an apparition that hides in his shadow.
Post Traumatic is not about overcoming Shinoda's demons. It's an album about attempting to understand them. Shinoda claims "'I'm tired of the fear that I can't control this / I'm tired of feeling like every next step's hopeless" in the chorus of 'Place To Start,' showing that he is ready to move on from these feelings but as he continues, saying "I don't want to know the end, all I want is a place to start," it becomes clear that he's not searching to get rid of his demons just yet. He's looking where to get started with it all. 'Over Again' follows through, and this song is just a pure masterpiece. Simple with its beautiful progressions, the song's chorus simply states "Sometimes you don't say goodbye once / You say goodbye over and over and over again," as the waves of grief after losing Chester come and hit him again and again. The song has a sense of progression to it; as Shinoda explained on Twitter, he recorded the first verse of the song on the day of the Linkin Park's incredible tribute show to Chester at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl. He expresses his fears and insecurities of the show before it happened, and in the second verse, recorded the day after the show, Shinoda channels all his anger about being constantly being urged to speak of his thoughts after Chester's passing, when he doesn't even quite understand how he feels. He gets caught in a cycle, being forced to say goodbye over and over again when all he's trying to do is understand his own thoughts.
'Watching As I Fall' follows through with more drive, Shinoda's melodies notably more anthemic and the song more energetic. It goes along with the nature of the song's meaning: Shinoda explains how it felt going through Chester's suicide, how everything seemed to happen in a flash while he was rushed to find an answer (as he expressed in 'Over Again'). The song comes complete with effected guitars á la 'Waiting For The End' and big, almost aggressive raps as Shinoda fights not just the world that's placing pressure on him, but himself, as well. The second verse is very introspective, Shinoda admitting "And honestly I buy that I can sound cold / Still upset from shit that's 15 years old / I don't know what it takes to make me let go." He's angry at himself as much as he's angry with the world, and as the chorus sings "They're watching as I fall, to somewhere down below / But maybe I'm just falling, to get somewhere they won't" once more, Shinoda continues down the road untraveled to look for the answers to his suffering.
Chester's music wasn't amazing solely because of his singing talents. All of Linkin Park's music was defined by its raw emotion and Chester's ability to make that come across with nothing but the pain in his voice. That's what Post Traumatic is. Mike Shinoda captured each of these incredibly painful and hard moments in the grieving process as they happened, immortalizing that moment of time in order to try and understand the grief he's feeling. This EP is progressive emotionally, growing with each song just as Mike's thought process changed over the last few months. Like any of us hurt by Chester's passing, there's still a long road left to walk down before we find the clarity we're searching for. Mike Shinoda goes face to face with his demons in the Post Traumatic EP to show that he's healing, slowly but surely, and while the battle's not done being fought, nothing will hold him, or you, back from reaching the end of this road.
Favorite Tracks: Over Again, Place To Start, Watching As I Fall
Least Favorite Track: doesn't exist.
Rating: 99 / 100
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