Consisting of material that Chester Bennington didn't want to hammer into the mold of Linkin Park's electronica-infused nu metal, Out of Ashes finds the singer exploring a moodier hard rock sound, teaming up with co-collaborators Julien-K (a production/synth pop outfit featuring Amir Derahk and Ryan Shuck of Orgy). The album has a more melodic, guitar-centric approach than Bennington's previous work. The Julien-K touch really manifests itself in atmospherics -- rather than sitting in the forefront, synths are used more strategically, thickening the sound and filling in the empty spaces. The album's more rocking moments are reminiscent of Velvet Revolver, with riff-driven songs storming out of the gates at full gallop. "Inside of Me" wholly embraces that idea, grabbing the listener from the get-go and relentlessly barreling straight through to the end like some kind of rock & roll Cannonball Run. The album also features a lot of really satisfying melodic moments, making a downtempo shift from time to time and giving the listener a brief respite from all the action. "Fire," the album's opening track, is the star of the show. Bennington's vocals soar over the massive, triumphant chorus, kicking the album off to an epic start. As a whole, Out of Ashes is a solid record and a fine opening volley for Bennington's solo work. While it may not be a terribly adventurous record in the grand scheme of rock & roll, it's certainly a departure from his work with Linkin Park, and should make for a refreshing change for fans who want to see another side of the singer, as well as winning over people who aren't into his other work.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney