It’s been one year since the death of Linkin Park co-frontman Chester Bennington. The singer struggled with crippling depression and on July 20th of 2017 finally succumb to it and took his own life. I’ll admit I was just as shocked as all of you when I heard the news. I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. Yet it was sadly all too real. I felt it in my gut and have carried it with me since as I’m sure some of you have. To me and to many other kids of the 90’s and early 2000’s Linkin Park was my favorite band. Some people knew of their early stuff and thought they were a fly by night rap metal fad that would fade away. Those of us in the know who followed their careers closely knew they were incredibly talent musicians. To me and I’m sure to some of you, this was the equivalent of hearing the news that John Lennon got shot, or Kurt Cobain committed suicide or even when Michael Jackson died. To some Lincoln Park provided the soundtrack to our lives. Now here we all are, one year later only to find everything still in pieces.
Chester’s passing not only effected us the fans but it effected the guys in the band and his family more than any of us will ever know. His wife and six children will spend a long time trying to keep themselves together and to be honest who knows if they can ever recover? Then there is Linkin Park themselves, how can they carry on? Chester was arguably one of the best singers in modern rock. Sure he had his late 90’s angst driven whine that many of the mainstream listeners remember from Crawling, but his voice was so unique and versatile that you’d be hard pressed to replace him. His scream was unlike anything I’ve ever heard. If you’ve ever seen Linkin Park live then you know he had the ability to give you the chills with it. His scream engulfed a lifetime of built up pain and he beared his scars every time he sang. That is what made him so great, you could hear his emotions and relate it to your own life. Growing up with Linkin Park made your own growing pains easier because Chester was right there with you. However he wasn’t all screams, his singing voice carried such a melody you’d be hard pressed to find another like it. Simply put he was a total package and perfectly complimented Mike’s vocals over top of the rest of the band’s unique sense of musical arrangement. These guys were the real deal. The question remains where can they go from here though?
Well this year we saw Mike Shinoda channel his pain and sadness into a very well received solo debut (Fort Minor aside). Post Traumatic is an appropriate title for Mike’s album. He’s gone though a lot in the last year and you can really hear it resonate throughout the record. However while it’s a very good album and you should buy it, upon listening you can’t help but feel something is missing, not just with the music but Shinoda himself. That missing piece is obviously Chester. The two had always complimented each other so perfectly that it just gives a feeling of loneliness to not hear Chester’s vocals. I had the opportunity to see Mike Shinoda last month in concert. I was excited, as I have seen Linkin Park many times before and this would be the closest I would get to seeing them again. However watching Mike up on stage by himself, while very impressive that he did the set by himself; one couldn’t help but see and hear his pain. While it was a great show, it was a very sad experience. This is a man who truly misses his best friend and favorite co-worker. Don’t get me wrong, Mike Shinoda is incredibly talented, he did so much of Linkin Park’s writing and production it’s insane. He truly deserves the place he has earned. The man is a legend! What I will say is that this is a sadness we will see in him for many years to come, as much as it hurts us as fans I can’t imagine the pain he feels for his loss. For better or worse this is a part of him now and will be in the end.
There have been talks that Linkin Park will get back together recently. I find it hopeful that these guys are so bonded that they want to continue. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Chester can be replaced that easily. There isn’t another singer alive that could cover Chester’s range of performances. The closest replacement I can come up with is Danny Worsnip of Asking Alexandria and it’s not the same. Chester had that one of a kind scream and Danny is back with Asking Alexandria. Mike while very talented cannot cover Chester’s parts. As touching as it is to hear the fans in the crowd sing Chester’s vocals the band could only keep that up for so long. It was truly a breathtaking experience but not a long-term plan. So where can they go from here? Will future albums simply be Shinoda as the only frontman? He is talented enough and has provided foundation for most of their work but he is not the powerhouse that Chester was. They could always go back to being called Xero. This is the exact line up they had prior to Chester entering the group and they changed the name to Hybrid Theory once he joined. This was due to another band already having the name so they changed it to Linkin Park because there is a city named Lincoln Park in every state. If you think about it Chester is actually what made them Linkin Park, so would it be wrong for them to carry on the moniker? It’s hard to say, I’d have to see how they approach it. Here we are though one year later and these guys are trying to pull their lives together and find some closure. I for one am very happy to see that they won’t let this define or destroy them and that they will persevere. I think that’s exactly what Chester would have wanted. Who cares if one more light goes out? Well I do.
“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done, help me leave behind some, reasons to be missed.
Don’t resent me and when you’re feeling empty, keep me in your memory and leave out all the rest.”
-Chester Bennington, Leave out all the rest