Released: May 19, 2017
Linkin Park were once one of the most radical, over-the-top nu-metal bands in like… well, if you calculate my age, then, ever! With iconic releases such as the early 2000s Hybrid Theory and Meteora, their image and sound took a controversial spin as it moved towards 2010’s A Thousand Suns, mixing a blend of electronica and pop-ish frills, and so forth, But with One More Light, the bands seventh studio album in a near 20th anniversary achievement, never have the band sounded so… so… pop. And, for even die-hard Linkin Park fan, this will be a disappointment.
There is no trace or linger of the classic rock numbers or progressive screams like their F-ing dying like their previous work, it’s just pure, mainstream and experimental pop. The album’s lead anthem, “Heavy” (I know, ironic for a band like Linkin Park), was MILES AWAY from their signature tunes and, I get it, the result may be quite disappointing. But essentially, this is a nice number that could’ve easily been blended into the US top 40 charts had it not had a bad wrap from their legion of plain and simplified metal fans that clearly don’t wont to have a bar of soap with anything outside the band’s mindset (no shade, but it’s the truth). And even the melancholic electronic hit “Battle Symphony” sure is another push in the pop direction, but if we are being quite honest here; it’s not bad. It’s not necessarily authentic or wholesomely perfect, but it’s not bad either. The album’s only hard-edged track—which I know is quite a stretch on this particular record—is the heavy-EDM infused jam “Invisible”, which is actually quite a well-polished and crafted track.
But here’s the thing; if you’ve been a fan of Linkin Park’s work since their debut (which is like, millions of years ago…), then of course this isn’t going to be your cup-of-tea. Like, duhhh. But you gotta give credit to where it’s due; the band is bold and brave enough to step outside their comfort zones to run trials and errors on a record like this, whereas others bands tend to re-brandish their sound that they’ve sculpted for decades to a mainstream audience… and gurls and boyz, we know were that heads to… no where (sometimes though… sometimes). Songs like the chill-out pop-rock “Nobody Can Save Us” and the dramatic “Talking to Myself” sure crosses over to a pop field, but the songwriting and overall delivery—which is a mix of paranoia, self-issues and various other flaws—is still there, just in different states of sound, so I actually enjoy the change.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the record is solid. What One More Light struggles throughout is a lack of originality or well-rounded production. Member Mike Shinoda, per usual, is the back-bone in this department, with his crafty abilities of making songs standout and become quite progressive, to an extent. But when you get tracks like “Heavy” or the subtle EDM-filled “Sorry for Now”, I just feel it doesn’t sell well enough. It feels a little under-baked and generic in areas, which is disappointing because you can sense the potential. But then you get songs like “Halfway Right”, which literally sounds like vocalist Chester Bennington is trying to unleash the aggression and powerhouse vocals, but only ends up with a passive attempt of something that could have been a lot better. And that’s another issue; just because the sound is different, and, to be quite honest a really nice sound, doesn’t necessarily mean that the band have to apply limits to what was once known by the band for their overly loud and exhaustively solid performance.
Even with a bunch of flaws and lack of originality, One More Light isn’t really a bad record, but it’s not a great one either. There is a light (lol, get the pun?) to the record that shines quite well, and majority of the material sees a nice direction of change and improvement for the band. Unfortunately, the deliveries need to be thicker and go all the way, because I feel it’s just a passive attempt. Adding touches of originality to the bands brand (a.k.a. small rock interludes or Chester screaming his F-ing lungs out) would have been essentially nice to lurk around past fans, but as for moving forward, it’s decent enough for a pass.
Track list (Bold means best tracks):
- Nobody Can Save Us
- Good Goodbye (feat. Pusha T and Stormzy)
- Talking to Myself
- Battle Symphony
- Invisible ~Liam’s favourite~
- Heavy (feat. Kiiara)
- Sorry for Now
- Halfway Right
- One More Light
- Sharp Edges