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For me, it was “In the End”. Hit play on that sampled piano riff and damn, I’m immediately lost inside a thousand memories; pretty much all of which consist of either trying (and failing) to rap the verses with my high school friends, or sitting in front of the MTV channel wide-eyed, annoying my parents while I waited for that one video with the awesome moving statues in it. Pretty much everyone will have a different jumping-on point, though: were you drawn in by “Faint”, and its hyper-cool video where we only saw the band’s silhouettes from behind? Or “Numb” with that absolute monster of a chorus, potentially even the Jay-Z-ified “Numb/Encore” remix for extra cred? Could be you’re an obsessive fan who trawls through the LPUnderground catalogue in their spare time and names “QWERTY” as their favourite Linkin Park song, or maybe you missed the train on them entirely and roll your eyes at the rest of us buying in on this cheesy rap-rock trend. Wherever inside that spectrum you land, it’s cool, because love them or hate them, it was pretty damn impossible to ignore Linkin Park at the beginning of the new millennium.

It started with Hybrid Theory in 2000, an album that somehow manages to sound fresh and vital despite coming from the heart of the most dated genre to ever exist. It’s all in the energy of the thing, of course – “By Myself” with those copper-wire metallic shrieks, “Papercut” showing the rest of rap rock how to it with effortless ease, and of course, “In the End”. Chester’s vocals took the low yarling of grunge and paired it with high, emo-like shrieks, dragging both genres forward into an electronica-fied, hip new millennium kicking and screaming. [Reanimation] followed soon after, introducing legions of unsuspecting nu-metal fans to both l33tspeak and the weird wide world of hip-hop/electronica with no apologies, and sometimes even improving on its parent album. Fifteen years on, maybe Meteora hasn’t aged as well as its predecessors, but despite an arguable dip in the freshness Chester’s melodies were cranked up another ten notches until his emotional wails seemed to scrape the sky. If nothing else, the singles alone prove that Meteora has to be one of the most fitting album titles of all time.

After that, Linkin Park seemed to enjoy pendulum swinging between sounds on their albums, breaking up the experimental chin-stroking of A Thousand Suns and The Hunting Party‘s balls-out metal with forays into pop rock and EDM on Living Things and Minutes to Midnight. Mike Shinoda’s rapping began to fade into the background, but he proved a very capable clean vocalist, with some powerful harmonies with Chester and even solo performances reinforcing how the two frontmen were always the core of the band, while styles and trends mutated and disintegrated all around them. Your mileage will vary on almost all of these albums, naturally: some dismiss everything after Meteora wholesale, while others look upon their experiments with a little more fondness. Personally, A Thousand Suns, being the only album of all time that can claim to sound like The Wall via electronica, faux-reggae and synthy pop rock is weirdly irresistible, while The Hunting Party is good for some really well-placed features and an invitation for some truly epic air drumming.

Chester’s final appearance on a record, this year’s One More Light, received negative feedback from many fronts, causing the young singer to lash out at fans in some interviews due to what he perceived as personal slights. The album’s soft pop/lite chopped-and-screwed sound is undoubtedly in blatant service of chasing a spot on the charts, but the introspective and personal lyrics may cause some re-appraisal in light of his suicide; at the least the genuinely beautiful title track, a tribute to a fan who passed from cancer and as good a farewell to Chester Bennington as any. One thing very few will argue is the genuine dedication and passion with which Linkin Park followed their muse down every single rabbit hole, good or bad: from Owl City pop to System of a Down freak metal to glitchy concept albums about the end of the world via nuclear warfare. Chester sings his goddamn heart out on every album (when he’s not screaming it), and the band managed to top charts and buck trends frequently long after nu metal had become a speck in the rearview mirror.

I’ll finish with a personal reflection, then, or I would feel I haven’t completed my work here. Last year I travelled to Thailand – my first time outside the sunny shores of Australia – and before engaging in a theatre exchange course I did touristy things; splashed water on elephants, ate lots of rice, saw temples in caves and so on. Staying with a host family as part of the exchange, the strangeness of the situation finally struck me with the force of a full-blown gale: I was lying on a floor in Thailand in an extremely poverty-stricken village, looking at a beautiful mountain and rice fields through the glassless window above me, two Aussie friends huddled near me in their sleeping bags. I woke up to the same sight of the mountain and the rice fields, now in daylight; the sounds of a small Thai village waking up gradually around me, lovely and calming; and… uh, and Linkin Park blaring on the speakers? Huh? Over the next twenty minutes as we got ready, our lovely host blasted through “Numb”, “Crawling”, “Faint” and several more while I sat there in a mixture of confusion and delight, wondering if this was the most surreal thing that had happened to me in my short lifespan. That memory will forever be tinged with sadness when I look back on it – sorry Linkin Park, I slacked on listening to The Hunting Party, I’m sure it’s good but I’m kinda over the metal thing, I’m in my OutKast phase now and I haven’t even really thought about you guys in a couple of years and… yeah, sorry. That unexpected early morning blast right back to my MTV high school days, in the middle of a foreign country in my final teenage year, was overwhelmingly beautiful and, after today, overwhelmingly sad. “In the End” was where it all started for me, ironically enough, and through years and years, and layers and layers of fancy new music tastes and life experiences and ups and down, there’s an inner highschool kid telling me with determination that my obsession never really ended.

R.I.P. Chester Bennington, 1976-2017





Toondude10
07.21.17
nice write-up Row

still pretty devastated about this

EvoHavok
07.21.17
Great article. You should still jam THP at some point.

TheMrAlexK
07.21.17
Great read

DinosaurJones
07.21.17
Great Piece.

Still pretty much in disbelief about the whole thing. Sucks so hard.

SowingSeason
07.21.17
Was going to drop a similar piece but this pretty much covers it. Great read and RIP to a very important musician.

EphemeralEternity
07.21.17
Moving write up, and i think virtually everyone can relate, although yeah you should definitely give The Hunting Party a listen if only for closure (and because it's arguably the best thing they've done since HT).

EphemeralEternity
07.21.17
*they did after HT :'(

MO
07.21.17
very nice

JWT155
07.21.17
Loved my experience in Thailand, apart from the crazy driving that is

PistolPete
07.21.17
Thank you for writing something on this.

DropTune
07.21.17
Nice article.

AsleepInTheBack
07.21.17
< 3

TVC15
07.21.17
Linkin Park touched so many lives and it's surreal to me as someone who didn't grow up during the nu metal craze how perennial their first two albums are. They're so ingrained in pop culture in different countries that they've practically become timeless. Beautiful write up Rowan

Divaman
07.21.17
Nice write-up, and I agree with you about the title track of the new album.

Rowan5215
07.21.17
for the record guys I've heard The Hunting Party, that little part in the last paragraph is meant to be a quote from me last year. Yeah its an excellent album, almost as good as their first three if not for the nostalgia factor

FullOfSounds
07.21.17
Really nice write up, songs like Numb and Faint wow'd me going into my teen years

ianblxdsoe
07.21.17
beautiful write-up row. "Faint" singlehandedly got me into playing drums thus into music so my debt is forever unsettled

StolenIdentity
07.22.17
Awesome write-up mate. So many memories of jamming Hybrid Theory and Meteora at different times in my life. I even recall having "a place for my head" as a polyphonic ringtone for over a year during the middle of last decade. I think what hits the hardest is that not only are we mourning the death of Chester, we are mourning the death of Linkin Park and whatever remaining hopes we held for the magic of those first two albums ever be recreated.

Rowan5215
07.22.17
Faint still has one of my favourite samples in music tbh (if that noise at the start is indeed a sample...)

verdant
07.22.17
beautiful writing

Rowan5215
07.22.17
beautiful user :O

YoYoMancuso
07.22.17
beautifully written, Row. So glad you're a staff member now.

I wasn't a fan of the band, but it's hitting a close friend of mine really hard. It's tough when an artist who genuinely makes an impact on the lives of their audience leaves us.

Rowan5215
07.22.17
really glad you're still on the site YoYo! of course the band wasn't for everyone but I like to think Chester impressed almost everyone anyway with his passion/work ethic

Capablanca
07.22.17
Just saw LP live a couple months ago, and it was a such a blast screaming at the top pf my lungs to Breaking the Habit, Faint, One Stop Closer,...it was like going back to a more simple time where I didn't have to worry about shit like working and/or studying. Chester looked so enthusiastic during the concert and before as well, the local fan club gave him a present, a miniature set of the band with peruvian themes on it, and he almost went mad about it... Like I said in another thread this is, I think, the first rock star from the 00's to die prematurely so it shook us more to the generation who grew up listening to them.

Crawl
07.22.17
I had a LP phase when I was 11-12 and it was around when A Thousand Suns came out. Listening to "Iridescent" now gives me shivers.

Artuma
07.22.17
nice write-up rowbro. this incident made me realize how much linkin park actually means to the sput userbase (i mean i knew they were huge but jesus christ it's been like a big ass funeral on sput for the last few days)

KevinKC
07.22.17
"Chester’s final appearance on a record, this year’s One More Light, received negative feedback from many fronts, causing the young singer to lash out at fans in some interviews due to what he perceived as personal slights"

"Negative feedback" most violent lynching in years.
"what he perceived as personal slights" and which totally were.

Danred97
07.23.17
fantastic writeup. Like many, LP was one of the first bands that I listened to when I started really caring about music. Hybrid Theory and MTM I still hold close to my heart. The whole situation is so sad.

TheSonomaDude
07.23.17
Brilliant writeup, Rowan. Extremely touching and meaningful, I've already read through it twice.

Chester's death hit me unexpectedly hard in ways I'm not sure I can explain properly. Following his passing, I gave a nostalgic glance backwards into my formative years and quite fondly refreshed myself on how LP assisted me through middle school. A short, fat, borderline-autistic troglodyte with social anxiety, I often sought comfort in two earbuds and loud music; though I quite unfairly give sole credit to bands like Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer for speaking to my angst best, there's not a single doubt in my mind that tracks like "Faint", "Lying From You", "In The End", and "Papercuts" were the only reasons I smiled on certain days. I suppose 'maturing' is what released my LP fandom after the disappointing Minutes To Midnight, and I never returned to check out any of their later releases, but it's impossible to forget what Chester addressed through his music and how much it meant to me and millions of others. All lives are important on this earth, and Bennington helped many see the values in things that were routinely clouded by insecurity and disappointment. A headphone in each ear and closed eyes were the closest things from escaping a livid, crimson-faced father with clenched fists, a neglecting mother who never stepped in, and a school full of a thousand generation-spawned tykes who overlooked reaching out and only walked to assume what was to be assumed. It was escapism of the finest degree, and it remains poetic how such a beautiful message could be conveyed through such strident music.

RIP Chester Bennington. If only we could've helped the same way you helped us.

Rowan5215
07.23.17
thanks for the response sonoma! touching to hear how chester affected the lives of so many just by sharing his experiences with us. his end was tragic but it's comforting for me to think that he probably had some of the best times of his life in those early days, on tours and in the studio. but who knows really

mete0ra
07.25.17
Thanks for this Rowan, beautifully written stuff. What I can't quite understand, though (and this isn't aimed at you in particular), is how we're all so quick to praise LP and recognise how creative they were now that Chester is gone, whereas previously on this site, if you made it clear that you were an LP fan, you could expect a barrage of criticism/trolling (people assuming you were 12 years old and hadn't yet got into 'real music').

It's almost like the whole site's opinion on the band has completely changed due to this event. They used to be the premium laughing stock of Sput, now no one has a bad word to say about them. I get not wanting to speak ill of the dead, but it confuses me all the same.

TheSonomaDude
07.25.17
^ I understand to a degree. Personally, I was never a HUGE Linkin Park fan by any means. The length of my Linkin Park fanboy never extended past the 6th grade and looking back, a lot of their albums really aren't that great IMO. However, I have always believed that Chester's voice stayed incredible throughout his career. Hell, watch the Good Mythical Morning episode where Chester sings improv about ramen noodles...it's amazing. More importantly, I think Chester's message spoke volumes to many people like myself, and it's heartbreaking to see him succumb to the thing he most fought against to defeat. Downright tragic, actually.

Sure, the mockery of LP on Sput is interminable, but thus is the way of Sput and most of the internet. I'm not sure if these people are all closeted LP fans, but I am sure that Chester's message meant a lot to many people during their formative years. Regardless, paying respect to a person who has died is welcome and expected. Even if it were Chad Kroeger or Fred Durst, I wouldn't expect everyone to just go "lol bout time lol good riddance lmao" (not EVERYONE at least...)

The same thing happened when Michael Jackson died, except far more extreme. MJ was a laughing stock for years and was the punchline of every single rape or child molestation joke there was back in middle school, and most of the media felt the same way. However, the posthumous response of his reputation transformed him from creepy child molester to a highly respected celestial angel basically over night. He passed the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years, and I remember the same kids who would bully those for liking MJ were now bullying those who DIDN'T like MJ, out of respect for his death. The same thing happened to Elvis; he was a bloated laughing stock in the 70's but his funeral was entirely respected and many people thought he was "gone too soon". The same could be applied to Chester, but I don't think people found Chester to be a laughing stock, more just LP as a whole. The response is a given from the internet and just common culture in general, and by no means is it a bad thing.

DropTune
07.28.17
As a lifelong fan of Linkin Park, TheSonomaDude has a point. However, you have to understand neither of those deaths you mentioned are comparable to Chester's by any means. The situations were different and the perception of each musician listed varied extremely. Linkin Park was one of those few bands people of all genres enjoyed. People who hated rock enjoyed Linkin Park and no one knew why. Even though the rock fanbase didn't like Linkin Park, most of that was due to the past tensions when nu-metal was released. Nu-metal was hated once the genre first debuted, but tensions softened over the years and allowed Slipknot to become one of the most beloved metal bands by metal fans. Obviously Linkin Park was picked on just for being Linkin Park, but they did go on to become one of the biggest rock bands *worldwide* which is something incredible for a nu-metal band to achieve. Linkin Park beat Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns 'n Roses, and many more to be *the* biggest rock band worldwide. That says A LOT. Linkin Park may not have been liked, but they were respected. That is another thing many forget. Despite nearing farther away from their original sound with each release, many metal musicians weren't afraid to discuss how much they respected the band themselves. Comparing Chester to Michael Jackson and Elvis isn't even a ballpark range in terms of impact. Both careers burned because they were trying to be relevant. Linkin Park never grew irrelevant. No matter what - Linkin Park was always at the top and kept getting bigger. They may have burned out to some fans, but logistically, they were headlining major festivals domestically and overseas. Michael Jackson and Elvis were taking the backseat towards the end of their careers.

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