Linkin Park is a name that is synonymous with the rise of the nu-metal genre. Their debut album, Hybrid Theory, showed that they were a force to be reckoned with, from the start. With hits like “One Step Closer,” “Crawling” and “In the End” it’s not hard to see why this album still ranks as one of the best in the genre. With the addition of producer Rick Rubin to the fold, beginning with 2007’s Minutes to Midnight, the band underwent an evolution of sound that many never expected. This was the first time that they had stepped away from their signature sound and delved into something with more depth and substance. This continued into the 2 albums that would follow, A Thousand Suns (2010) which saw a much more electronically-influenced sound and Living Things (2012), a good mixtured balance of the previous two. Having learned a ton from Rubin, the band decided to take a more DIY-produced direction with their next album, produced by lead guitarist Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda, The Hunting Party. With some help from guest vocalists like the legendary Page Hamilton (Helmet), Daron Malakian (System of a Down) and Rakim, this album took a much more aggressive direction and began to excite older fans of the band. Now, 3 years later.. the band steps almost completely away from the rock genre, diving more into a more pop-driven realm, with their latest album One More Light. Now, alienating a band’s fan base is never the intention with a sound change but, sadly, I’ve seen a lot of fans turn away from them with the release of just a few singles from this album. Just as the old saying goes, though, you never judge a book by it’s cover.
One More Light can be looked upon as a rebirth for the Agoura Hills sextet. Over 2 decades into their career, they’ve conquered just about every genre they’ve dabbled in. This album heads towards a more Summer jam direction and sees some of the band’s boldest material yet, in terms of how they experiment with their sound. The band’s lead single, “Heavy” saw the band’s first collaboration with a female artist in Kiiara. Coming in with a soft, subtle voice, she shows that she’s perfect for this track… when she belts out the chorus, though, the listener will find themselves with chills. I’ve talked to several people who hear this track on the radio, unknowing of who it is, and finding themselves utterly shocked when I tell them that it’s Linkin Park! Perhaps, at this point in their career, where bands are trying to reinvent the sound they helped pioneer.. that’s just what they need: a reintroduction, with a fresh sound. There is a certain atmosphere that finds itself breathed around each and every track, creating an experience with each listen.
One thing you do notice, from the start, though is that there was a lot of co-writing within this album… something the band hasn’t done a whole lot of in the past. As such, you hear a lot of influences from artists like blackbear, Jon Green (5 Seconds of Summer), Julia Michaels (“Issues”, Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony), Andrew Goldstein (Britney Spears, Fifth Harmony, Hot Chelle Rae) and Eg White. The album has a recurring theme of letting go and moving on, encouraging the listener to take risks… take the first steps on that journey to self-discovery. “Heavy” is a major hit and, quite frankly, it’s hard not to see why. “Battle Symphony” takes a lot of risks, creating a scenario of a battle within oneself (complete with war drums and an atmosphere that creates an epic vibe for the track). One of the best tracks on the album is the title track, “One More Light.” Stripped down to light electronics and acoustic guitar, this is probably one of vocalist Chester Bennington’s best performances of all time. Emotionally captivating, beautifully entrancing… you couldn’t ask for more in a track like this. It has a message that will stand the test of time. A reminder that we need to open our eyes, give more love and realize that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. “Who cares if one more light goes out? Well I do!” Too often are our beliefs, our sentiments and everything we hold dear put into question by those who fail to understand the connection we have to them and the passion in our hearts. Stand up, realize that, even if people say that your thoughts are invalid… they aren’t. The album ends with a track that reminds me of a band like the Lumineers, “Sharp Edges.” You can hear that there is a lot of folk influence in this track.
One More Light may be the boldest step the band has taken, showing a lot of vulnerabilities but it works out beautifully. This album will see a lot of negativity thrown at it, simply because people fear change… especially when it’s one as drastic as this. If you’re looking for the angsty, aggressive sound that they brought on with Hybrid Theory and Meteora… well, you’ll simply be let down. It does take a few listens to truly grasp the depth the album has to offer but I implore you…open your mind, open your heart and let One More Light in. The album will be released May 19th via Warner Bros. Records and they will be taking the album on the road with Machine Gun Kelly, One OK Rock and the legendary Snoop Dogg, beginning July 27th in the US! Catch them on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight (11:35pm EST/10:35pm CST), as well!
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