Linkin Park - One More Light
On May 19, 2017, Linkin Park released the album "One More Light", Chester Bennington's last album with the band.
At the outset, we must note that writing these lines has not been easy for us. We were overwhelmed with emotions, we sank into memories and mostly we went through an emotional upheaval that stems from the struggle between gut feelings and common sense.
Therefore, we would like to open this review with a quote from "Metal Hammer" magazine:
“With One More Light, Linkin Park have waved goodbye to Rock!!"
Now let's go back a little...
As true Linkin Park fans the disappointment already started with the album "The Hunting Party" which came out in 2014, already there our relationship became a bit cool and the ability to contain the album was very limited. It felt like a desperate attempt by a band of a huge scale, to try to regain its aggression, "biting" with uncompromising power. But after several listens (more than once) there was a bit of confusion, frustration, and even anger. Something in the band's musical credibility faded somewhere on the streets of Hollywood during the ride on the Mercedes AMG, the brand they represent.
Three years passed and then came out "One More Light" which is the complete opposite of the previous album, a sharp transition from roaring guitars, beating drums, and fast rhythms to pop songs, softly wrapped in electronics and caressing vocals. After listening to "Heavy", the first single released, our stomachs turned and our ears refused to internalize the sounds that "attacked" us from the speakers. We were searching for something in the song that would give hope, that would feel there was a chance for power, that there was a future for the new sound of the band we love so much... but in vain.
As if that weren't enough, after the release of the "Battle Symphony" single, the question only intensified. Everything sounded sticky and sweet, like hot marshmallows placed on the tongue.
When the third video / single "Good Goodbye" came out, it already seemed that it was "the last straw" and that was probably "The Swan Song" of a beautiful period that was and will not return. We were already impacted by what happened "Thirty Seconds To Mars" which turned into a lollipop candy, so now Linkin too?
What happened to Chester's voice? what happened to Mike? What "black hole" swallowed Brad's guitars? Who the hell kidnapped Joe Hahn?? For us the theme was unfinished and there is no need to convince us to try to accept the album. This thing called "One More Light" is simply a poppy, polished and professional product that has a hard time finding its place in our collection in our library.
Let there be no misunderstanding here, we love pop, one of us even has a stormy poppy past (and we will not share names on behalf of "individual privacy"). We also really like that the bands experience different sounds or styles, and in general, the diversity and combination of innovative elements is a wonderful thing in music. But at the same time, it's hard to break away from the band's roots, from the leading sound that characterized it from its DNA. There is a sense of frustration when you hear a rock song without acoustic drums and guitars, when everything becomes electronic it just doesn't work as well.
This is a good opportunity to start a discussion about the process that quite a few big bands have been going through lately (see entry, Bring Me The Horizon, All Time Low, Thirty Seconds To Mars Panic at The Disco), about their unexplained attraction to pop, the use of sticky lyrics, pleasant melodies and electronic sound that just kills everything that characterizes the band. Sometimes it is even difficult to understand where this need is coming from. Is it money lust? Is it musical creativity? Is it the desire to redefine yourself or break boundaries? What makes these bands sound like "Ed Sheeran", "Maroon "5 or "Justin Bieber"??? These questions and many more are a matter of a whole long discussion, but now we want to focus on this specific album.
The band received harsh reviews on the album from music critics and even from a large part of the fans, which caused Mike, Chester and even Brad to come out with a variety of excuses and explanations about the style of the album.
As Chester described:
“If you’re saying we’re doing what we’re doing for a commercial or monetary reason, trying to make success out of some formula… then stab yourself in the face,”
But then an inconceivable tragedy occurred...
On the day the second official single from the album "Talking to Myself" was released, Chester Bennington committed suicide! There are no words to describe the heavy feeling upon receiving the news of his death, the blood flowing rapidly from head to toe, "punch in the stomach", general weakness throughout the body, terrible sadness, and a feeling of immense loss (two in a row if you consider Chris Cornell), one of the great vocalists of our generation !!
As it is the way of the world (and indeed this is a true cliché) a person’s creations takes a different meaning after his death. Indeed, this album suddenly took on a completely different sound, meaning, and character. When you come back to this album after that loss, it suddenly sounds all Chester. Although it does not have a single roar (its most prominent hallmark), this album feels all about Chester.
The band's fans are probably familiar with Chester's dealings with his mental problems. More than once he has shared in interviews the difficult struggles he has with his “brain”. When everything seemed calm and normal on the outside, on the inside, a "world war" took place. Chester fights himself, his feelings, and his thoughts. So the whole album suddenly takes on a different character. Songs written about a specific background or with a specific intention and interpretation suddenly get an interpretation that is all Chester.
By the way, one of the amazing things about music is that the listener can interpret what he hears in a way that suits him, according to his personality, and in a perspective that matches the period he is going through in life. Songs like "To myself", "Battle Symphony", "Heavy" and of course the theme song "One More Light", suddenly took on a completely different meaning and became unequivocally identified with Chester.
The song "One More Light" was originally inspired by the death of an employee of the Warner Bros. record company whom the band knew and Mike decided that a song must be written about her after her death. Mike said the song is meant to show people that you care about them. After Chester's death, the band decided to release this song as a single, and a YouTube music video that Joe Han directed was dedicated to Chester. The music video alternates between performances by Linkin Park, in which Chester is filmed singing with the audience. The band members said it was very difficult and emotionally charged to make this music video, but they felt it helped them use their talent to bring a lot of people, especially the fans, "some light".
There are many interesting and unusual things on this album...
This is the band's first album to record in the form of lyrics first and music after. Writing the lyrics to the songs was the first step in creating the album, in contrast to previous albums where the band had first worked on the musical structure and melody. In addition, this is the first time the band members have shared the songwriting process with other artists. Mike said that in previous times the band would cooperate with other artists only in the final stages of the song, if at all, and on this album, there were co-artists already in the lyrics writing stage, which was the initial stage in the work.
It is interesting to note that Chester was involved in writing, only in two songs on the album. Although the songs took on a different meaning after his death and the lyrics sound like they came out of his throat, he was hardly involved in writing the lyrics.
Although the guitars on the album are not as prominent or noticeable as on previous albums, Brad said the guitar work on the album was tremendous. There are many layers of different sounds of guitars that all emphasize and reinforce the other elements in the song. Since the band decided to go in different directions on this album, the work of the guitars was very challenging, in order to try and adjust the sounds to the new elements.
In conclusion, the album "One More Light" is far from being a perfect album, but it certainly takes on a different meaning after Chester's death. Contrary to the initial impression this album left on us, in retrospect, this album gets a completely different perspective when you listen to it after Chester's death.
This is probably the final chord of the band we all love. Of course, Mike continues to create and even recently there have been voices as if the band itself has not finished its way, but even if it does come true it is clear to everyone that it can no longer be the same, as the band's golden age with Chester is over.