As a huge Linkin Park fan, I was excited to hear that co-leader Chester Bennington had a side project in his new band Dead by Sunrise. At first listen, Out of Ashes sounds a bit like Linkin Park's most recent release, Minutes to Midnight and it even has similar artwork on the CD.
But, at closer examination, there are only tinges of the electronic influences found throughout Linkin Park's albums. Not to mention the absence of Chester's counterpart, Mike Shinoda. Without Shinoda's rapping and singing, you're left with Bennington's great vocal chops and impressive range over some pretty straight-forward, but fun alternative rock. Bennington carries the tracks easily and made me realize just how talented he is on his own.
Musically, there's nothing ground-breaking or too original, but the familiar rock you hear is excellently done with infectious hooks, solid lyrics, and good-old guitar solos. There's not a big mash up of styles like in Linkin Park's music, save a few interesting layered electronic effects here and there.
Out of Ashes' opening track is "Fire" with its positive upbeat vibe. The mid-tempo track talks of a loved one looking down from the other side. Then there's "Crawl Back In" the album's solid first single. It's got an almost arena rock sound and is a great introductory track for the band.
"Too Late" and "Let Down" are a pair of slickly produced, radio-ready, downtempo tracks. They have great melodies and are very catchy. "Give Me Your Name" is a ballad, that's done well, but is probably the least memorable on an album packed with catchy and memorable melodies.
About mid-way through Out of Ashes, the early mid-tempo to lighter tracks give way to a vintage screaming Bennington now backed by a big, loud, rock sound. "My Suffering" is probably the most Linkin Park-esque track. It's an aggressive nu-metal track with Bennington's signature screams. It's also short in length, at 2:39 and short on lyrics in typical old-school Linkin Park fashion.
Then there's the mosh pit-inducing "Condemned". It's the hardest and most fun track on the album. Fun in a more pop rock way can be found on "End of the World." It's an electro-rock track with some interesting lyrics. "Into You" is a power ballad that builds nicely to another arena rock-esque moment. Here, Bennington's booming and clean vocals are in stark contrast with the last two metal tracks. Out of Ashes closes with "In the Darkness." The closer begins with a surprising combination of claps, an acoustic guitar, and beat boxing. They create the backdrop of a decent downbeat closer.
I prefer different, unique sounding, music especially when it comes to rock. But, sometimes familiar-sounding music done really well can do the trick too. Out of Ashes is a bit brief for my taste and slightly pedestrian, but also a lot of fun, easily accessible, and excellently produced.