Music That Inspires: One More Light

It has been a week since Linkin Park’s Chester Bennignton committed suicide. I figured now would be a good time to review the last Linkin Park album One More Light.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been a fan of Linkin Park, especially Chester, since the group debuted. One of the things I appreciate about the band is their combination of styles. They merge alternative rock, metal, rap, EDM, electronica, and ambient music. This style was later categorized as nu metal. I think this is what made Linkin Park so popular. There is a little bit of something for everyone. However, they are artists, and as such they like to experiment. After the first two albums, they began to change their style on each album.

This angered some fans who preferred the nu metal sound. The latest album, One More Light, brought that anger to its zenith. The album received a ton of hate from fans and lackluster reviews from critics. I heard the first single Heavy, and liked it. However, the sound was completely different from the typical Linkin Park fare. After reading some of the reviews, I held off on getting the album.

Now that I have it, I must say that it is not as bad as people suggested. It is a good album. It just is not a Linkin Park album. The album is pure pop. It is not even pop rock. There is very little guitar work on the album, and most of the bass and drums are played with in post production. It does not make the album bad, yet it does remove that signature Linkin Park sound.

The best way I can describe it is to say that this is really a Chester Bennington album featuring Linkin Park. Mike Shinoda is on three of the ten songs, but he sings on two of those. The rest is all Chester, and he sings rather than screams for most of those songs. Lyrically, the songs are the usual Linkin Park fare. It is that the music sounds more like what Chester would do on his own. A good comparison would be his side band with Julien K called Dead by Sunrise. The album Out of Ashes has a similar sound in terms of Chester’s singing and lyrics.

The album took a different dimension because I listened to it two days after Chester committed suicide. The album on a whole deals with life and death, yet songs like the opener Nobody Can Save Me feel eerily prophetic:

The odd part is that this is typical for Linkin Park songs. Having listened through all their studio albums again, this song could have appeared on Hybrid Theory or Meteora. Odder still is that it was not written by Chester. Mike Shinoda, Brad Delson, and Jon Green wrote the song. In fact, Chester only wrote one of the songs on the album, Heavy:

The song is full of emotion, and although I agree that a nu metal version would sound better, it does not take away from the power of the song. On Genius, Chester described the writing process:

When we were talking about what was going on, I’d be like, “Dude, I don’t know. Sometimes I find myself getting into these patterns of thinking. Sometimes I find myself getting into these behaviors that I have.” I do all this stuff to try not to do it, and I find myself just doing them again. It’s like I’m compelled to fuck up things in this certain way. Or make things more difficult or just get trapped. It’s like going through that kind of conversation and then getting into it. I think everybody in their own way can relate to that. I mean, for myself, that comes with being an addict. There’s a pattern of thoughts. There’s this compulsion, this obsessive thing that happens in my brain and I can’t get out of it. And that leads to a lie. And that leads to isolation and that leads to all these other things that mess with my life. And so if I just go “Why do I isolate,” and I don’t look at all the other things that cause me to do that then I’m only focusing on a symptom of the overall problem.

That’s one of the things that most people, in their own way, whether they’re addicts or just whatever they’re going—I think most people can relate to being stuck. If you’re in a grieving process of losing a loved one, and you can’t stop thinking about them not being there, you can get into that way of thinking. Even though you’re talking about two totally different things, that one line, “I don’t like my mind right now, stacking up problems that are so unnecessary,” I think everybody could feel that way, whether it’s a single mom and I got bills and I got responsibilities and I got kids to raise and I want to have a life. Just getting caught up on the “I don’t have a life and I have all this other stuff going on” can cause an avalanche of nonsense that goes on in your brain. And for me, the worst conversation for me to have is the one I have about myself in between my two ears.

This is why I love Chester so much. His songs always have that element of applying to any situation. That is why they reached so many people. He also a point: when you are in that state, what is happening in your own head takes precedence over anything anybody could say to you. Unless you have someone who can break through that wall of isolation, the only one who can make it stop is you. Chances are, however, that once you have reached that place, you lack the strength to fight out on your own, at least initially. This is the impact of depression and anxiety. They may seem like trivial things that people should just get over, but they take much more to overcome.

Another notable song on the album is One More Light. The song came about after one of the band’s friends died of cancer. The song took on a different meaning when Chester sang it in tribute to Chris Cornell shortly after Cornell’s suicide:

To me, these are the best songs on the album. Again, the album is nowhere near as bad as critics stated. It simply does not sound like a typical Linkin Park album.

I am curious about what will happen with the band. They would not be the first to lose their lead singer. I suppose they could find a replacement, although no one can really replace Chester. Several of my friends and family suggested I should try to audition since I can mimic Chester’s singing voice, but I have no interest in that.

If this is the band’s final album, it not a bad way to go out.

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