Welcome Back, Linkin Park

The band introduced themselves to the world at the beginning of the century. In light of their 7th album, “One More Light”, a look back at 17 years of Linkin Park.

(Image via: WBR Press)

Linkin Park was my first musical love. Before them, the music I liked and listened to was largely determined by what was playing on the radio. Linkin Park marked my first conscious music choice, and looking back now, it birthed the taste I have to this day. But my LP fandom actually began with two movies released during during the last years of my elementary school days: Miami Vice, which featured “Numb/Encore” in the trailer, and Transformers, which featured “What I’ve Done.”

I credit my now extremely diverse taste in music to Linkin Park’s genre-blurring music. I have never really liked metal, but rock, soft-rock, electronic, and rap is a large part of what I listen to today, and they’ve all been, at one point or another, a large part of Linkin Park’s music. With their 7th album on the way, I felt it was only right to look back at their 17 years.

The Evolution of the band’s logos.

The Early Days (2000–2003)

The band’s first two albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, which spawned their two biggest hits, “In The End” and “Numb”, respectively, were predominantly metal/hard-rock, or “nu metal”. The songs on both albums were, for the most part, angry or coming from a place of pain. The themes of vulnerability were often backed by hard sound, introducing the band’s soft-loud dynamic, a dynamic embodied by the alternating dynamic of Chester and Mike.

One could argue the depiction of a strong soldier with delicate dragonfly wings hints at this mix of strength and vulnerability. The title itself likely refers to this mix, or “hybrid”, too, especially considering “Hybrid Theory” was one of the band’s earliest names. The cover art resembles graffiti/spray-paint art, and it’s no coincidence that Meteora’s cover depicts a spraypainter, as much of what can be said for Hybrid Theory applies to Meteora.

Top 3 Songs

  1. My December (Bonus track on Hybrid Theory)
  2. Numb
  3. In The End

The Evolutionary Years (2007–2010)

It wasn’t very clear at the time, and it’s not clear if this was intentional, but looking back now, Linkin Park’s discography is best discussed in pairs. The band’s first two albums seemed like two halves of a whole, and same applies to Minutes to Midnight and A Thousand Suns.

Getting the obvious out of the way, the two album covers distinctly feature nothing but black and white. Minutes to Midnight depicts the bandmates looking out on the horizon, towards, perhaps, the glaring and exploding sun from A Thousand Suns’ cover?

The themes of the two albums also inevitably tie them together. Look no further than the titles, one of which alludes to a Doomsday clock and the other to a monstrous explosion of light and heat. It’s also these two albums that introduce us to the political side of the band, as the themes of war and annihilation echo throughout both.

Both albums also sound very similar. They feature very little of the hardness from their first two albums, and instead lean towards soft rock. Much of Minutes to Midnight has a somber, “I can’t do this anymore, I’m exhausted” feel, and A Thousand Suns sounds rather tranquil, like you’re experiencing a thermonuclear explosion in slow motion.

Top 3 Songs

  1. Shadow of the Day
  2. No Roads Left (Bonus track on Minutes to Midnight)
  3. What I’ve Done

Th Exploratory Phase (2012–2014)

As was the case with Linkin Park’s first two pairs of albums, their third pair of albums saw the band continue to move into a different genre. In Living Things, the band dove into “electronic rock”, which featured some traces of the angst from their first two albums, traces that the band embraced further in The Hunting Party, a rock album that took listeners back to the band’s early days and saw the band’s first album guest features.

These two albums also share a few connections that beg us to view them as a pair. Both covers use the same color scheme of gaseous backgrounds surrounding a darker, 3D-printed-like figure. The titles are also somewhat complimentary, as “hunting” hints at death of some kind, as opposed to things that are living.

Top 3 Songs

  1. Burn It Down
  2. Powerless
  3. Drawbar

One More Light (2017)

And here we are. One More Light. The album is definitely more pop-like than ever, something many feared when the album’s first single, “Heavy”, which was the band’s first female vocalist feature ever. This is no accident, however; it’s a calculated risk, a risk the band was willing to take in hopes of making “a personal album” that a large amount of people can relate to.

Linkin Park has consistently ventured into different genres, so this is flirtation with pop almost feels like natural progression. Maybe their next album will give this album more context. Maybe it’ll shine a different light on One More Light. Some may be a little disappointed, but to me, Linkin Park’s legacy is already firm, from their social conscience to their 17 years worth of music, that the reception to One More Light is irrelevant. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. It’s good to have you back, Linkin Park.

3 Favorite Album: Minutes to Midnight, A Thousand Suns, Meteora

3 Favorite Songs: Numb/Encore, Shadow of the Day, My December

3 Favorite Non-Album Songs: New Divide, Not Alone, We Made It

Favorite Official Remix: MY<DSMBR

Favorite LP Underground Track: Basquiat