I know there’s a number of old school Linkin Park fans that have seen this and feeling a little cynical and jaded. Because, like me, you’ve been scorched by A Thousand Suns and Hunting Party, an album that even I forgot about. Meanwhile fans that love the previous album are confused. And that’s ok!
Why am I so calm about all of this? Because Chester Bennington’s voice is still chicken soup for the soul. Like old school fans, I went into this with some trepidation. Am I going to end up burnt again?
This, of course, got in the way when I hit play.
All the elements were there. The Hybrid of genres all mingling and bouncing off each other. Metal, Pop and Electronica. I battled my way through the first few songs, trying to get a grasp of what the heck Chester was trying to tell me. Looking for the thread.
Then it happened. Like it always does with Linkin Park albums. That song. That one song that rips your space time continuum, and brings up emotions because you relate to the lyrics. Then everything flipped. My perspective changed completely.
I went back to the beginning.
The common thread? Life Lessons. All of the songs relate to emotional growth and the mistakes you make along the way. The album has been carefully laid out so each track flows into the next with their unique sound catered to match the lyrics. The tracks are highly emotive and raw.
Battle of Symphony is very much the anthem track on the album. This is very much the ‘fight song’ they love to give to their fans. It resonates with a solid drum beat and base line that demands to be sung loud with passion and fists held high. You can see and hear a stadium full of fans on their feet singing the chorus while Chester holds out the mic.
Then there’s Invisible. This track gets straight to the heart of the struggle humans have with words. Frustration can cause chaos. Or sometimes we just can’t say what we mean because we’re too scared. Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Sometimes we say something that can end up sounding so much harsher than it was meant be. And when you realise that you’ve broken that person’s heart it breaks your heart too. To hurt someone that means so much to you has a lasting effect. So we learn from our mistakes. Become mindful of what we say to this person. But we also pay more attention to what they’re trying to say to us
The message in this song is ‘From now on I’ll be there for you and I’ll see you and hear you. I’ll never give up on you’
So let’s keep up the flow that the band has created
So what about Heavy. A beautiful duet with the gorgeous Kiiara. But you need to understand that this is not a normal duet. This isn’t a “ask and reply” situation. They start off with a verse each but then start singing the same verses as well as the chorus.
This is about two people that are struggling in their relationship because they can’t let go of the past. They both feel the same way but have no idea. So they struggle with the same thoughts and feelings trying to wrap their heads around the situation trying to articulate their feelings. But to themselves not each other. The struggle is real isn’t it? Their voices curl and entwine around each other with harmonies that are pure duet goals.
The only part of this track that annoys me is that the title reads as ‘Heavy featuring Kiiara’ Um no. She’s right there with you Chester. Give her a little more credit.
And while we’re on the whole feature track path, Good Goodbye featuring rappers Pusha T and Stormzy. Pusha T is straight out of NYC who’s part of hip hop duo Clipse with his brother No Malice. Stormzy is a very talented rapper from Britain and has somehow managed to make a British accent sound menacing instead of an East-enders Character who’s become a petty thug. This is a pop/rap/rock hybrid that makes you sit up and take notice. At first you think he’s kicking out that friend who’s a bad influence. You know the one. Yeah that guy that makes it sound like an awesome idea until you find yourself in handcuffs sitting in a cell.
Pusha T chimes in after the chorus and does his East coast thing talking about doing time and doing shit that would make the average law abiding person pass out. Meanwhile you’re thinking ‘yeah this dude has got to go’. Then all of a sudden British rapper Stormzy steps up and announces that yeah it’s time to say goodbye. Time to say goodbye to the demons and the old life. Not a person. The old life that would make law abiding people pass-out. Well played Chester.
I know you’re all waiting to hear about the title track. One More Light This track is about suicide. I know I’ve just triggered a lot of you with that one word. Well I’m right there with you. 3 years ago I lost a friend in California. And it still hurts. And I’m not afraid to admit that I’m crying as I type. Because the track is real the lyrics are real. The feelings are real. I’m right there with Chester and the guys. I’m in the moment with them. The tones are sad yet gentle. The echo of the guitar and keyboard tugs at your heart strings. And Chester has the presence and awareness to say he knows he’s triggered memories. He knows he’s making you cry.
With the simple line of ‘the reminder pulled the floor from your feet’ Chester acknowledges that he’s made you hurt but it’s ok because he’s hurting too. He’s so aware that what he’s singing about is hard but has to be discussed. Suicide prevention needs to be pulled out of the dark more than it has been. The band is waving a huge yellow flag. Let’s hope people take notice. And I hope I’ve helped by letting you know that I’ve lost someone too. Who cares if One More Light goes out? Well I do.
This cleverly placed track at the end called Sharp Edges to pick you back up and dust you off after all the emotion from One More Light. The band ends the journey with some wise words we’ve all heard. This track is everything your mum told you when you were a kid but of course you ignored her and had to learn the hard way. ‘Shit. Mum was right’. Yeah. Thanks Chester. Excuse me while I call my mum and apologise for being a shit of a kid.
Now I know what people are thinking. This is your take on the album. It’s all relative right? Give it a chance. Don’t push it aside. Everyone deserves a second chance. The guys have more than made up for their mistakes. And if you listen and feel nothing? Well at least you can say with full sincerity and confidence that you don’t like the album.
But I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity and will pick up your headphones and have a listen.
ONE MORE LIGHT OUT NOW VIA WARNER BROS RECORDS: