Adam Flores | Senior Writer
Linkin Park, the Agoura Hills, California, alt- and nü-metal/electronic, alternative and rap rock sextet have scored big with “One More Light.” Their seventh studio release debuted securing the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart. It is also the only May 19 new release to enter the chart’s Top 10 territory.
The hybrid theorists have joined an elite listing within Billboard 200 history. They stand with rock royalty compatriots Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, Eagles and Metallica as groups to have scored six No. 1 albums. Only four groups have surpassed the mark: The Beatles, 19; The Rolling Stones, nine; and both Led Zeppelin and U2 with seven.
Their previous studio effort, 2014’s “The Hunting Party” saw the band return to their roots with explosive energy and collaborations with Tom Morello and System of a Down’s Daron Malakian. Giving fans what they wanted, and realizing this in retrospect, the hunt–and perhaps the ensuing party–is over for now.
The latest incarnation of Linkin Park throughout “One More Light” hears the band as unrecognizable. Reanimating their sound, lost are the inciting screams of co-frontman Chester Bennington. Softer-shaped melodic passages and layered background vocals now embrace the entire compilation to the accompaniment of a Beiber-esque pop music formulaic.
Beginning their “Light” work back in November 2015, the direction was deliberate.
“We’ve got a lot of great material that I hope challenges our fanbase as well as inspires them as much as it has us,” Bennington said back in September 2016.
In February 2017, terror twin co-frontman Mike Shinoda said, “It’s still us. It’s self-produced. It’s all us, curated by us at the very least. It’s a Linkin Park record,” while adding, “we approached the process differently.”
Thinking differently, Linkin Park may have fallen into a songwriting midlife crisis. “Light’s” message within the 10-track collection lies within introspective themes denoting honest reflection and emotive, in-the-moment thinking.
The lead single, “Heavy,” released back on Feb. 16, features pop singer Kiira and marks the first time Linkin Park has featured a female vocalist on their original, studio material. The melancholic track states in its emotionally exhaustive chorus, “I’m holding on / Why is everything so heavy / Holding on / To so much more than I can carry,” perhaps telling not just the trials of personal relationships, but reflecting our present day, turbulent world condition.
The turbulent, sonic condition Linkin Park set forth in previous studio compilations has vanished. “Good Goodbye (feat. Pusha T and Stormzy)”–the album’s only other collaborative vox track–may be the most musically forward offering in the set with its deep synth soundscapes; however, it still falls short of the decibel-inducing power the band is capable of emanating.
“Battle Symphony,” “Invisible” and the album’s title track depend on laid-back tempos, soft electronic accents and tender, chordal padding summing up the components of today’s pop-oriented landscapes.
If anything, the hardest hitting element besides the emotionally dramatic, multi-layered themes is Linkin Park’s solid-minded stance and defense in trying to make this an LP of stellar material in light of their drastic, sonic alteration.
“We’ve made so many records and we clearly know how to make a record and we definitely didn’t take the easy way out this time,” Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson said.
“One More Light” takes on the pop spectrum delivering material Linkin Park has intentionally set to the soundtrack of life’s uncertainty, regret and changes in the human condition. For fans, it may be a genre change that projects uncertainty and regret in the new material while possibly opening doors to a new audience eager to embrace its notions of tackling complex issues of the psyche.