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DLC Week of 11/2: Grey Daze and Heaven’s Basement

Grey Daze “Sickness” showcases the burgeoning talent of a future superstar while Heaven’s Basement “Welcome Home” channels the power of legacy rock icons to ferocious effect. Both of these scorchers are available this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store.

In the mid-‘90s, years before he gained international fame as co-frontman of one of the defining and most enduringly influential alt-metal bands of the early aughts, 15 year-old Chester Bennington served as lead vocalist for Phoenix, Arizona band Grey Daze. In the spring of 2020, the surviving members of the group released a tribute album featuring previously unreleased vocal performances from Chester Bennington. The result, Amends, opens with “Sickness” – a moody snarl of a rocker that taps some powerfully familiar grunge territory while exploring themes of inadequacy and coping with such feelings of self-doubt. 

Beginning with minimalist, fuzzy bass line over haunting synth pads, at 11 seconds in, both Bennington’s instantly recognizable (recognizable to anyone who’s listened to the radio in the past 24 years, anyway) voice and assertive, snappy drums join the picture. At the 40-second mark, the first chorus arrives and the whole mix opens up wide, with guitars and layered keyboard parts joining the soaring, plaintive vocals. The second verse follows the pattern established in the first, though now with guitar adding some pick-scratch/harmonic percussive effect. The second refrain ends on a long-decay delayed vocal from Bennington – the effect is atmospheric and, in context and with the benefit of hindsight, outright chilling. After an instrumental break which is all ambience and vibe, Grey Daze revisits the emotionally powerful refrain one final time before the music goes silent at 2:46 with just a chirping synth echoing into the ether for another few seconds. The lyrics to “Sickness” are worth paying attention to (or looking up, if you can’t immediately decipher them all), particularly if you want an honest glimpse into the tortured, complex young mind of a musician who would go on to inspire and impact millions just a few years after “Sickness” was originally tracked in 1996. Here was a singer and songwriter whose intimate familiarity with mental anguish and personal struggle made him a relatable source of empathy and comfort for an entire generation. It’s both fascinating and impressive to witness the self-awareness and facility for expression he possessed at such a tender age.

Recalling Bennington's first audition, all those years ago, Grey Daze drummer Sean Dowell fondly recalls, “As soon as he started singing, we were just blown away, like ‘when can you start?’ And he said, ‘I have to go ask my dad.” As for the Amends project, he adds: “I said, ‘I really want to finish this album.’ We're not gonna accept mediocrity, we’re gonna do our friend proud. We’re gonna make Chester proud, and we’re gonna make sure that this is something that he would have been absolutely elated to put out.”

Based on the musical and emotional potency of “Sickness,” one has to assume Bennington would be proud, indeed. Turn the volume up for this one (and maybe have some tissues handy).

From the get-go, “Welcome Home,” the opening track from Heaven’s Basement 2013 debut LP Filthy Empire, is a pumping, punchy old-school rocker. The UK-based quartet – drummer Chris Rivers, bassist Rob Ellershaw, guitarist Sid Glover, and vocalist Aaron Buchanan – serve up three minutes and 19 seconds of fast-paced vocals over hot riffs and heavy drums, the likes of which inspire the listener to get off the couch and hit the clubs (the *rock* clubs, mind you. This isn’t some disco track).

Droning, distorted guitar rides an octave figure over thumpy, tribal drums and Buchanan’s sandpaper scream until, at the 19-second mark, we get the first of many stop/start moments with the verse beginning in earnest. The ease at which these guys slam the brakes on a dime and then accelerate to full speed the next second is impressive. At 38 seconds in, the slower-tempo, hooky chorus is revealed, allowing Buchanan to showcase his more melodic capabilities. It’s an interesting contrast to the verses, during which the vocals are spat at rapid-fire, machine-gun velocity, matching the adrenaline-fueled intensity of the instrumentation beat for beat. Following the second go-round of the verse/chorus, we land at the middle-eight at 1:40. Here, Glover expands on the octave work of “Welcome Home”’s intro, but this time dances up and down the fretboard and also adds plenty of deft hammer-ons and string-bends to impressive effect. Following a final verse and double-refrain, the track winds down with 24 seconds of searing guitar leads, furious drum fills, and Buchanan howling “Welcome Home!” until the crescendo and hard-stop at 3:19.

While Heaven’s Basement hews faithfully to a tried-and-true format, the whole bold, brash affair crackles with a sense of purpose. And, to be clear, this isn’t some formulaic “been there, done that” exercise. “Welcome Home” is a bold and ballsy barn-burner that borrows liberally from the classic rock canon, to be sure, but there are also strong elements of sleaze and punk just beneath the surface and the group delivers the satisfyingly raunchy and catchy track like men on a mission, chips on all shoulders and caution to the wind.

“On the album we wanted to capture as much live energy as possible and show people how dynamic  we are as a band,” said Rivers upon the release of Filthy Empire. “The album has some of the heaviest and the lightest music we’ve made, it’s a great cross section… We’re more like the old school bands we listened to growing up that want to show different sides to ourselves and our music, not too much, but enough to make it an interesting listen.”

An interesting listen, “Welcome Home” certainly is! Prepare to be hitting that rewind button more than a few times for this banger.

Grey Daze “Sickness” and Heaven’s Basement “Welcome Home” are now available as DLC. Each of these bangers can now be yours for $1.99 each.

  • Grey Daze – “Sickness”
  • Heaven’s Basement – “Welcome Home”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 11/2: Grey Daze “Sickness” and Heaven’s Basement “Welcome Home”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, November 2nd.