When Chris Cornell died last month, and was officially ruled a suicide despite contestation on the part of his family, he left several projects as yet unreleased. Today sees one of those come to light: the artist’s final music video for a song called “The Promise,” recorded for the film of the same name. And despite the song’s subject material and the video’s accompanying theme—the horrors of war and the plight of refugees, interspersed with an ultimate message of hope for the future—it’s hard not to see echoes of an ironic statement about the musician himself, whose death casts a shadow over the song’s call for “a promise to survive, persevere, and thrive / Fill the world with life.”
Cornell had asked for the video to be released on World Refugee Day, with all profits going to benefit the charity International Rescue Committee. The “#KeepThePromise” hashtag seen toward the video’s end is a tag meant to draw attention to the memorialization of the Armenian genocide and the ongoing violence again taking place in the exact same location in the world. (Please do not confuse it with the Keep The Promise SuperPAC that funneled money to Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016.) Musically, the song finds Cornell in similar territory as past solo work like Euphoria Morning, only much more operatic and sweeping in style. As the video’s director tells Rolling Stone, “Chris had the idea of, ‘How can we bridge the video…with fear-inducing images of what people have to deal with as well as messages and images of hope and perseverance and resilience and survival,’ which is what the song is also about.” You can donate to the fund here.