I still remember the date that I first heard that song.
20th December 2008.
My brother had finished his semester exams and had come home for the Christmas holidays. By that time, he also had a laptop in hand. I always liked it when he came over for the holidays. Ever since he left for college, I had been missing him badly.(Don’t you go thinking that I’m this great brother and all. It’s something every kid brother experiences, I guess.)
So, I started to fool around with his laptop, when a music video caught my eye.
It was an AMV or Animated Music Video for short. It was a Dragon Ball Z AMV with the song “Forgotten”, at that. I was a huge fan of DBZ at that point. So I played it.
That was the first time I’d heard of Linkin Park.
And I’ve been a fan of them ever since.
Sure, even by that time, Nu-Metal was pretty much on it’s death bed. But for a kid who grew up with songs of Micheal Jackson or whatever pop song would play on MTV and that one song from Godsmack(Thank you, Prince of Persia), Linkin Park was…different.
Their songs had this angst, an unquantifiable anger that permeated in their lyrics. As if the world was against them and they couldn’t help but let loose that fury bottled up within them.
That anger was always brought forth by Chester Bennington.
His voice was what struck me as different. I had heard some rock songs at that time and those guy “scream” at a low bass. Less of a scream, more of a roar really. Bennington on the other hand, screamed like anything. It was a high-pitch howl, more like. That combined with his voice was effective in conveying the anger in their lyrics.
Just hear “Given Up” from Minutes to Midnight, to see what I mean. The guy held a high-pitched scream for 17 straight seconds. 17!
If it wasn’t screaming, then when he sang, you can clearly feel the pain that he’s trying to convey in the lyrics. He had a boyish tone in his voice that kind of softens the song and brings forth the pain in it.
No where was this more apparent in “Numb“, where he talks about the burden of expectations placed on a person and the pain it causes.(IMO, still one of their best songs ever.)
His voice always had this quality of being able to shift from melodic to angry as fuck within a matter of seconds. Where a transition like that is a bit more jarring for the other singers in a song, Chester achieved it butter smooth, without any troubles.
Frankly, Linkin Park was my first step to hearing more diverse and great music.
Usually, most Linkin Park fans are split into two factions. One faction consists of guys who’ve heard of Linkin Park from their “Hybrid Theory” days and hate their change to a more mainstream type of sound. The other faction consists of fans that embrace this more pop-inspired direction and have no problem with it.
All of those fans would agree though, that a Linkin Park without Chester Bennington just wouldn’t be the same. He was the glue that held the fans together.
Even as they moved away from their Nu-Metal roots and experimented in different genres, that quality of the voice in Chester always remained the same, after all those years. It might have mellowed down over time, but it was still powerful in conveying emotions all the same.
I’ve heard pretty much every song of theirs, right from “One Step Closer” to “Invisible”, and while I admit I wasn’t exactly sure of what to make of their new album “One More Light”, it was always soothing and reassuring to hear Chester sing “Sharp Edges”.
Yup, this was still the same band I knew and fell in love with.
I’ll admit it was a bit shocking to hear that Chester Bennington committed suicide yesterday.
The guy was battling substance abuse for a long time, and as a child, he was subject to sexual abuse as well. He’s even sung about his problems in his song, “Crawling” in Hybrid Theory.(Whether the song is about drug abuse or sexual abuse alone or both of them is left to individual interpretation.)
But I’ll admit, it was sudden. Linkin Park was going about on live tours, they were promoting their latest album, “One More Light”, which was receiving a backlash from hardcore fans because of it’s pop-inspired direction, they were on talk shows etc etc.
The fact that his suicide came all of a sudden is what hit fans the most. There were no warning signs, no apparent changes in his appearance, no nothing. I guess, there’s only so much a man can take before going off the deep end.
You know, I always had a wish. Nothing big really, just that Linkin Park would perform in India and I would get front row seats to see Chester, Mike and the other guys performing their hearts.
I guess that will never come to pass.
We’ll never know what prompted the guy to take up suicide.
We’ll never know if Linkin Park will ever be the same again.
But we do know that the world of music can’t fill the void left by the passing of Chester Bennington.
When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest
– Leave Out All The Rest, Minutes To Midnight(2007)
You’ve given us fans tons of reasons to be missed, man.
Thank you for making music a bit awesome than it already was.
Thank you for Linkin Park.
Thank you, Chester Bennington, for everything.
May your soul rest in peace.