A Stroll Through Linkin Park—Part I (2000-2007)
With the release of their very first album, Linkin Park carved themselves a place in history right alongside the likes of Pink Floyd and Metallica. As has been proven time and again, however, album sales alone cannot guarantee the long-standing success of a band. Simply riding a popular trend is not the way into people’s hearts. There must be something unique about your music, for it to be remembered long since you’ve been gone.
For Linkin Park, that is undoubtedly the emotional quotient they bring to the table. They have no dearth of soul-splitting riffs that inspired generations of rhythm guitarists in their wake. In their later years, turntablist Mr. Hahn would go on to school the world on making electronic beats collude perfectly into a hard rock atmosphere. But the quintessential mental image nearly every fan gets when they think of Linkin Park–is of the darkest moments of their lives spent lying despondently in bed–wondering what the point even is of carrying on anymore.
It is during this moment, that Chester’s voice flutters into their hollow soul, and mends their wounded heart, as he reassures them that things will turn out all right. The fire-and-ice rapport on vocal duties between him and Mike Shinoda offers the listener a much more in-your-face rap that hits so hard, it gives you the strength to stand upright again. Many bands have songs that bring out the thorns in this deceitful bed of roses called life.
What elevates Linkin Park to another level above them all, is their willingness to constantly open up about the most gruesome details of their lives through music. Things others would normally hesitate to do, from fear of taunting their image, and having to relive parts of their lives they’d rather forget. It is precisely this willingness to bare their souls that have made them heroes to so many.
In this article, we will examine the band’s journey right from their very first album, till 2017’s One More Light. This section explores the 2000s section of their discography, and the stylistic changes this era brought along with it.
Hybrid Theory (2000)
Having caught the tail-end of the nu metal era, it was Linkin Park’s contribution to this scene that immortalised the genre. It seemed all the heavyweights of this brand of music had one area in which they lacked. Limp Bizkit weren’t strong enough in the vocal department, Korn didn’t have a DJ, Slipknot’s sound was too raw for untrained ears. In came Linkin Park to perfect all their weaknesses, and add their own spin to a firebrand genre of music that brought with it so much potential still waiting to be tapped.
Nu metal dared to bring together the two heavily contrasting styles of hip-hop and heavy metal, while fusing the best elements of both. This could result in combinations of fierce screaming mixed with riffs clearly influenced by a hip-hop groove–or rapping over a curious mix of palm-muted, downtuned, earth-shatteringly heavy guitars and psychedelic disc scratches.
The addition of DJs to bands was like a subliminal signal to the founding fathers of rock and roll that there has been a change of guard. Times were changing, technology was booming, and these were reflecting in the popular music as well. No one cared any longer for finger acrobatics in guitar solos, nor was listening to AC/DC the benchmark for being hardcore any longer. The key to writing a great nu metal song was one thing: find the one face-melting riff that gets the crowd jumping, and use it to the maximum of its potential.
Linkin Park introduced themselves to the world with Papercut. Sampling work recreates the deft kicking of drum pedals, erecting the foundation for the beat around which the rest of the song is formed. Guitar effects slither in like a ticking time bomb, before exploding into a breakdown of the real instruments.
As Shinoda prepares to unleash his rap repertoire, the instrumental section fades into a haunting backbeat. Brad Delson picks frantically away at a riff that gives the sensation of darting from corner to corner, afraid of being spotted by an unidentified danger that lurks in the distance. His voice hushed to an ominous lull, Mike describes what it truly means to constantly live in a world filled with hallucinations. Each line bringing him closer to when he breaks loose and flaunts his wordplay, rhyming with the word “face” four times in split-second intervals.
All the while, Chester looms about him predatorily, awaiting his turn. In live shows, he often repeats the last word of every verse that Mike whispers, with a ravenous growl. When the chorus arrives at long-last, he sings his heart out, fitting in with the melody rather than trying to lead with his voice, ending with his trademark raspy voice. Even in these ten seconds he gets under the spotlight, we quickly become aware that this band has a completely different talent in the vocal department they have yet to give us a full taste of.
One Step Closer is Bennington’s time to shine, through and through. Delson uses the sweet spot of a guitar’s natural harmonics to summon his bandmates in a call-to-arms, before switching to the soul-splitting power chords that get the entire band jumping in sync with the groove. Bourdon furiously works his drum set, pounding the snares and crashing the cymbals as he jams in rhythm with Brad.
Chester bides his time, allowing himself to slowly descend into the pit of insanity. As the rest of the band drowns into a dull roar, he sings with a voice that is as angelic as it belies a madness hidden beneath. Unable to mask his true persona any longer–the warnings of being lost within himself are carried by a bridge riff. Just as the barrel of a machine gun heats up seconds before launching a hail of bullets, Chester finally lashes out at everyone who was pushing him to the brink.
This is the go-to song for anyone who feels like their emotions and burdens are getting the better of them and they just can’t deal with it anymore. What’s more, the chorus scream isn’t even close to why they hired this beast. Just when all the music stops playing, and Mr. Hahn sets up a calm environment for transition to what could’ve been a nice, melodic section, Chester shakes up the entire scene with a “SHUT UP WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU”.
As if not knowing what to do, his bandmates follow his lead and launch into the heaviest, slam-to-the-ground breakdown they can, as he repeatedly bellows, “SHUT UP” in increasingly louder intervals until finally reaching as high and piercing a tone as his lungs and vocal chords will allow him when he yells, “SHUT UP! I’M ABOUT TO BREAK”. Thus, Delson races to pick up the momentum where Chester left off and carries the song with a riff that takes the band galloping to the finish. With blistering intensity, Mike and Chester face each other, screaming, “I’M ABOUT TO BREAK” in unison, as Bourdon blasts the double bass in one final breakdown at break-neck speed, and just like that, the song ends as quickly as it started.
With You shows us how it’s done when you have two elements as alien to each other as a turntable and a 7-string guitar. Rather than immediately breaking out the heaviest instrument at their disposal, they used Mr. Hahn’s dexterous touch on the discs to scratch along to a beat that steadily builds in its animosity. With a final, high-pitched shriek, the 7-string drops a riff bearing all the crushing magnitude of an atom bomb. When played live, this is when Chester skips onto the stage before taking his place in front of the drums, hunching over, wrists gripped tightly around the microphone as his neck vein nearly bursts while he shouts, “COME ON!!!!”, in one heaving breath.
Aggressively struck power chords gently bring this song back from the clouds this volcanic introduction shot it into. This is Linkin Park’s take on a love song. Mike lets loose verses that tell a story, of a man waking up one morning, just like any other day. Only now, like that unwelcome burst of cold air when you open the door on a winter morning, the reality of what he’d been trying so desperately to avoid finally dawns upon him.
He’d given everything he could to his relationship, but there was nothing he could do to save it now. Not wanting to come to acceptance with the fact leads him into a state of denial. After Mike’s verse, the entire band stops, as Chester and Mike turn to face Mr. Hahn. With a deadpan expression on his face, without even looking down to see what he’s doing, he scratches out a web of complex rhythms before Chester spins on his heels and launches into his chorus of denial.
How could it be, that all this time spent together, was now about to crumble into nothing? How could they both have been running from the fact that, as much as they’d dreamt of seeing their last tomorrows together, they now had to face that there were going to be no more tomorrows for them to face together?
Coming to the most turbulent part of this entire rollercoaster, Crawling comes straight from the most troubled place in Chester’s mind. Simply put, it is the heart-rending tale of what childhood sexual abuse has done to him. Following a dementing slurping sound like the rumbling throat of an alligator, Mr. Hahn depicts a scenario of lightly-tapped keys, much like a child might tap on a xylophone. A disc scratch later, this sound starts to get more distorted, as a string orchestra joins the foray now, making an attack all the more imminent.
Delson is the first to break through this glass barrier of sound, paving the way for Chester to scream at his raspiest, most belligerent best. The most daunting line in this entire song isn’t when he sings about him succumbing to his own fears. Nor is it when he says he feels like he’s being controlled by something residing within him. Something that makes him feel like he’ll never know his true identity again, what he was like before this started happening; and how the realization of this is so stifling and overwhelming that he feels closed in on from all sides.
Indeed, the most unnerving moment in this song is every time he says, “These wounds, they will not heal.” That is the line which sends shivers down everyone’s spine, makes their hair stand on end, gives them goosebumps. It’s something we can all relate to, if not now, then definitely at some point. It’s the most spine-chilling thought that you’ve done all you can, but it wasn’t enough. This is as good as you’ll ever feel. This is as numb as the pain will ever be. When Chester makes you confront that thought with him, sometimes, it can feel like it’s all too much.
Finally, we touch upon the one song Linkin Park became infamous for, much to the chagrin of their detractors for going “pop”. In The End could never have been written by any other band. It has so many unique elements all crammed into a three-minute journey. Starting off with a somber piece on the piano, we are made to think Chester is going to lead us into a ballad as he solemnly sings, “It starts with one…” Just then, Mike starts rapping off the last word with a wisdom in his voice as if he has attained enlightenment after years spent meditating in the cosmos. Lamenting about how time slips through our fingers as grains of sand trickle through an hourglass, he observes that each tick of a clock denotes another portion of our life gone by.
All the while, Brad plays light harmonics to simulate a background of tranquility. A highlight of this section is when Bourdon’s bass drums lock in with the rhythm of Mike saying, “It doesn’t even matter how hard you try”, each kick of the pedal making contact with the drums in time with every word.
As the song goes on, it becomes apparent that the lyrics are about investing so much of oneself into a relationship that had now grown toxic. When it ends, it ends regardless of how hard you tried to keep things afloat. And you can count on Chester to express how agonising it feels to watch all that trust, the memories, the love, crumble away to nothingness.
With that same feather-like tenderness, he sings about how much faith he’d put into everything, how he’d stretched himself to the end of his wits for this to survive. And how, for all this, there’s only one thing they needed to know about how this made him feel. Instead of telling them, however, he repeats the same lines, this time taking a deep breath to summon the need for vengeance from his belly.
Distorted power chords strike like bolts of lightning behind him. Bourdon goes from slowly jamming in the background to leading the assault on the drums, as Chester screams at the top of his lungs that he gave everything he could, but in the end, it didn’t matter how far they got, because now everything is over. After it all grinds to a halt, Bourdon slams one final cymbal to signify the battle had now come to an end, and the same piano piece from before brings this tale to a close.
Hybrid Theory went on to outsell even Metallica’s Black Album, at 16 million copies. Linkin Park had suddenly become a household name, touring the world alongside the very artists they had once idolised. However, this band was no one-hit wonder. They still had a lot more to prove to the world, a lot more music in their hearts still to let out. Next, we move on to Meteora.
Coming in hot after touring the world in support of their record-breaking debut, Linkin Park refused to allow the double-edged sword of a successful debut to overcome them. They didn’t let the fame get to their heads, making them believe anything they touched would turn to gold, nor did they perish to the pressure of having to outdo Hybrid Theory. Instead, they approached their second album knowing full well that it would be next to impossible to outsell their debut album, and maintained the focus on staying true to themselves while writing music that made them happy.
Just as the glass smashes when Foreword blends into the grooving drum beat that catapults Don’t Stay into the air like a diving board, Meteora makes it known from its very arrival that this time, they weren’t the new kids on the block anymore. They meant business. With the buzzsaw-sounding, rawer tone of his guitar used on the album, Brad lays down a track for Mr. Hahn to masterfully slide his hands and scratch all over.
Hitting the ground running, Hahn blazes through his disc-scratching solo with the finesse of a snowboarder racing down a mountain. Chester takes on the reins now. Hard-hitting with his lyrics as always, he first calmly tells the person he’s singing about, that sometimes it’s all he can do to just remember that he needs to breathe. Then, as if from nowhere, he shrieks, “Sometimes, I…just need you to STAY AWAY FROM ME”
It’s a classic song that everyone can relate to. During times of sadness, we often crave companionship as much as we also want to be alone when someone does try reaching out to us. It’s a conflicting emotion that cannot be explained, and sours relationships between you and the person.
They want to be there for you, you care for them, but you lack the emotional wherewithal to reciprocate the kindness they’re showing. So what’s the only thing your insides feel like doing when faced with such a situation? Scream your lungs out. That’s exactly what Chester does here.
Two recurring themes throughout this album are firstly, that the band seems much more volatile on this record. Suddenly, it seemed like Mike’s bashful way of addressing the high emotional intensity of their music in interviews had come true. It felt more like a therapy session than twenty-somethings jamming it out on a record. Secondly, the lyrics here repeatedly mention not wanting to be ignored.
The climax of this song is when Chester sings, “I don’t need you, anymore. I don’t want to be ignored! I don’t need one, more day, of you wasting me away!” over a breakdown of disjoint riffing locking horns with a pummeling of drums. The guitars, in fact, sound hollow, like being trapped in a cave that’s quickly closing in as stalactites crumble from above you.
All that aside, the chorus, and the energy with which Chester sings it, is truly empowering. One can be sure it, at least in that moment, gave many people the strength to stop accepting anything less than the treatment they deserved.
We then come to the iconic prelude to Somewhere I Belong. As Shinoda so passionately explains it, the intro was created from a riff Bennington came up with. They then reversed the riff, looped it, and basically added their magic touch so this beauty could exist. Followed by a guitar lick that emulates the keys of a piano, the sound of amplifier feedback pounces on us. Like Chester in the music video, we are dragged down into a world unknown as the band jams around us.
We are engulfed by a whirlpool of guitars being strummed, getting lost in this vortex of soundscapes, as cymbals crash around us to only further throw our senses off-balance. Everything comes screeching to a halt with the peaceful, light scratching in the background making one feel like they’ve landed in a fairy tale rain forest of some sort. The kind we dreamed of escaping off to as children.
“When this began…” sings Chester, now coming to his senses, seemingly at peace because this is where he wanted to be. Mike’s rapping ensues, flaunting his ability to let his words flow, even with the only beat being that of a guitar resembling a piano. If you take the lyrics by their surface meaning, they could come off as melancholic in nature.
However, what Mike’s really saying, is that he was initially unconfident about sharing the way he feels with the outside world. When he went through with it, he realised that it was a good thing, because he came to find that many people also felt the same way. Enter Chester, with the chorus it took him more than fifty tries to nail, and yet, it was all worth it, because we wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I want to heal, I want to feel, what I thought was never real. I want to let go of the pain I’ve felt so long.” If these aren’t the most uplifting words you could ever sing when your spirit feels crushed and unamendable, nothing is. They say, if you keep telling yourself something long enough, you’ll eventually believe it’s true. If that’s the case, repeating these words along with Chester could really give one the strength to get out of bed and fight through another day. This song is one of those moments that made Linkin Park truly one of the greats. You don’t just listen to them when you’re feeling nostalgic, or intoxicated. You listen to them to nourish your soul.
Next up, we have the song that universally won the hearts of many metalheads, Faint. It has many defining moments; a string arrangement one would normally expect to hear in a woebegone song. A solo played by Bourdon at breakneck speed. All this happens just within the first thirty seconds. Although it’s very easy to lose track of the lyrics in such an adrenaline-pumping song, it’s important to pay close attention to what Chester is saying in the chorus.
“I can’t feel, the way I did before…” It’s a startling thought, when you’re depressed, when it hits you that you can’t even remember who you used to be before life happened, and sucked the soul right out of you. Going through memories past, you see a radiant smile looking back at you, and wish with all your heart to feel that way again. But you’ve grown so used to feeling so low all the time, you don’t think there is even a way to find that happiness again.
So, that venom, that bitterness, builds up inside him. Then, after the second instance of repeating that line, he decides he can’t take it anymore and just bursts out in the deepest, longest, most ferocious growl in Linkin Park’s entire discography up until that moment. “NOW!” he bellows, at the top of his lungs, his voice screeching as high as he can take it, “HEAR ME OUT NOW. YOU’RE GOING TO LISTEN TO ME, LIKE IT OR NOT, RIGHT NOW”. He repeats this after starting off from the final “now”, and so cathartically lets out all that toxicity pent up inside him.
Indeed, the releasing of anger has never before looked and felt so beautiful. Reiterating what was said in Crawling, one of his lines in this song is, “Time won’t heal, this damage anymore!” Another bitter truth he forces us to confront. How often have you gone to someone for consolation, only to be told, “Time heals all wounds”? There is some truth to that statement, yes. With the passage of time, the pain does stop being as severe. That is not to say, however, that it completely goes away. Time isn’t the medicine that stops you from bleeding. It’s merely a band-aid you slap on to soak some of it up.
Breaking The Habit is unparalleled in being the most soul-stirring piece of music in Linkin Park’s discography. Written by Shinoda after watching a friend’s downward spiral into the clutches of addiction, it is when Chester graces the lyrics with his voice that the song takes on a new dimension altogether. Piano keys play a delicate melody, careful to tiptoe as if not to break the fragile glass of one’s heart before the lyrics come in. Brad plays a riff entirely on one string, which serves to heighten up the pace and stir up some anxiety.
One thing which bothered Chester was that he was unable to finish his vocal takes for this album in time. When you hear him deliver the most powerful vocal performance of his entire life in the first line of this song, however, you realise that sometimes the best of things really don’t come when you want them to. As if taking you floating on a cloud, his voice gently cradles you and carries you away from this troubled world to the boundless blue skies above.
His words may not sound as soothing. Then again, real comfort comes from empathising with someone else, not deluding oneself with false thoughts of happiness. “Memories consume, like opening the wound, I’m picking me apart again.” The worst time to allow oneself to drift into memories doesn’t even have to be when recalling a painful time from the past. It’s when that painful time is your present, and you’re haunted by memories of how happy you used to be. If you close your eyes and let yourself drift in them long enough, it almost feels like you’re living that memory. Then you come back to your senses, and that’s when it stings the most, which is why this opening line is not so much jarring as it is uplifting. Because, it gives you the comfort of knowing you aren’t the only one suffering through this.
As the song goes on, the chorus changes from, “I don’t know how I got this way, I know it’s not all right” to “…I’ll never be all right!” In this, too, there is beauty. For it makes one see that people don’t always set their minds to changing something about themselves and succeed. There are times when you will stumble, or even fall altogether. Healing, as is so often said, does not mean you will always have days of wanting to take on the world by its horns. Sometimes, you will just want to sulk, and that is okay.
Last but certainly not least, Meteora gave us Numb. This is a song that even the teens and young adults of today who’ve never heard another rock song in their life will probably know all the lyrics to. Kicking off with a mellow piano intro, the power chords break in all guns blazing, before the iconic scene of a baby-faced, spiky-haired Chester taking that mic in the church.
His voice sounding hollow, like he’s given all he could, he sings the unforgettable words, “I’m tired of being what you want me to be.” That’s something every teenager can relate to. There isn’t really a definition of what’s normal in that phase. Everyone’s exploring themselves, trying to learn more about themselves and figuring out who they really are. Meanwhile, in school and at home, everyone seems constantly dissatisfied with them, like something or the other needs to be improved.
Then you hear the words, “And I know, I may end up failing, too. But I know, you were just like me, with someone disappointed in you!” You imagine yourself screaming it at everyone responsible for making your life a living hell, and in that moment, Chester and you have bonded for life. A really tender moment is listening to the instrumental version of this song, and hearing the piano delicately tugging at the strings of your heart. In the liner notes of the Meteora CD, it’s mentioned that this song was the quickest to record. Little did they know it would be the one song the world knew them by.
Thus, Meteora became the second and last album to have the nu-metal sound Linkin Park had built their entire fan base around in the early 2000s. They would then go on to do a mash-up in 2004 with Jay Z of their first two albums and his hits, creating a collaboration album called Collision Course. Then came a period of sparse activity for Linkin Park as a whole for the next two years until they released a metalcore song titled “QWERTY” in 2006. This was in a similar vein to their last two releases, and set fan expectations for what their next record would sound like. No one foresaw the complete overhaul of their style that was to come next.
Minutes To Midnight (2007)
Nothing can be more detrimental to an artist’s career than boxing themselves into one category. Just as we are no longer the same people now as we were a few years before, musicians also evolve in their own personal journeys through life, and this reflects in their work. Linkin Park knew that if they set out to write another nu metal album, it is what would be expected from them in every release thereafter. So they decided to take their chances and record an album unlike any of their previous releases.
Their first time beginning with an instrumental track, Wake opens up with a futuristic soundscape that feels like falling from space and drifting along the sea into an unchartered island. The soft rock guitar chords jamming along with Bourdon’s light splashes on the cymbals give off an aura so calm, the listener is totally unprepared for the tidal wave that’s about to hit.
Given Up, from the moment the keys stop jingling and Brad hits those muted chords with breakneck viciousness, makes you feel like you could take on the world. “Wake in a sweat again. Another day’s been laid to waste. In my DISGRACE!” Chester sounds like he’s had enough, and isn’t going to let life run him down any longer.
No more will he let every worry, every niggling fear, feel like it’s the end of the world. When he uses that high-pitched scream for everything it’s got, and roars, “I’ve given UP”, stretching the last note till his throat can’t take it anymore, he isn’t saying he’s going to fall to the floor and quit. He’s saying that he’s given up on letting himself be affected by anything anymore. He won’t let anything anyone says hurt him any longer.
It all comes to an absolute head when Brad takes it to the bridge with a riff that feels like opening a door in a haunted mansion, only to see a demon baring its unsightly maw at you. This is a song you truly enjoy only when you’re completely at your wit’s end with everything as well. Only then will you actually feel the anguish in his voice when he screams, “GOD!” during that breakdown. This is followed by repeated, tortured wails, pleading to be put out of his misery with the shrillest of growls. All this culminates into the almighty, “PUT ME OUT OF MY MI-SE-RY”, a cry that let out every demon residing within him, through a scream that lasted all of seventeen seconds, without him so much as taking a breath.
What’s more unbelievable is that, after this scream, when playing this song live, he only launches straight into another chant of, “I’ve given UP”. The fact that he did this night after night without blowing his voice is proof that Chester Charles Bennington is one of the greatest vocalists that ever lived.
Leave Out All The Rest is antithetic to the tone that Given Up had set in every way. However, so awe-inspiring is this song in its beauty, that even the most brutal of metalheads would be wont to relish its grace. It starts out with an atmosphere that might not even allow one’s eyes to picture something that could match up to its allure. When the words, “I dreamed I was missing…” leave Chester’s lips, it simply warms the soul, nourishing and filling one’s heart.
This is a song that was quoted all over when he passed, and rightfully so. He’d worded it like a farewell, imploring everyone to remember him only for the good he’d done. Dramatic people on the internet were quick to say things like Linkin Park’s entire discography was his suicide note, mentioning this song. There is no truth to that statement. This was written ten years before his demise, which is a long time to stay alive if you have been suicidal for that long. Let us not allow one action of his to define his entire career.
The liner notes of Minutes To Midnight mention that the band intended to have as much fun as possible whilst recording Bleed It Out, and it shows. Mike raps the fastest he’s ever gone in his entire career. When you try it out yourself, you realise how talented he truly is, that he can not only nail every single line, but also because he’s the one who wrote this masterpiece. Chester’s voice is at its raspy best for the first time since In The End in the chorus, as he says, “I’ve opened up these scars!” and then screams, “I’LL MAKE YOU FACE THIS”. In fact, so many facets of his voice were at their peak on this album. It’s safe to say Minutes To Midnight was when Chester was at the zenith of his vocal ability.
Shadow Of The Day starts with the simplest of drum beats, almost mimicking that of a heart. A peculiar sound arrangement stirs up images of sitting on a hilltop, only vivid greenery all around, as birds merrily chirp and flutter in the distance. One falls short of praise for how pure, clear as the day is long, and heartfelt Chester’s voice sounds as he lends his voice to this track.
It may very well be that the lyrics of this song talk about someone isolating themselves from the outside world. Having said that, when he says, “Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple, sometimes goodbye’s the only way”, and emphasises that with a soft moan, there’s something empowering about it. Goodbye doesn’t necessarily have to mean a farewell to the world, a farewell to life itself.
It could also mean that sometimes you should stop trying to fix a relationship or friendship that’s broken beyond repair, and just learn to let go. When he says, “The sun will set for you”, that could mean this dark day in your life will finally end, and you can wake up tomorrow to a happy new beginning.
What I’ve Done, another staple of Linkin Park setlists for years to come, picks off from the gliding stop that Shadow brought the album to, and helps this bird take to the skies again with a piano intro like an eagle about to soar straight for the sun. A muted chug of guitar strings brings in the main riff, as the band jams along while Chester walks up to the mic. These lyrics appear to be a nod to his struggles with alcoholism in the past.
Once Linkin Park rose to stardom, he started going on drinking binges that were affecting his personality and his relationships with those close to him. The words of this song appear to be his way of asking those that endured this phase with him, not to allow his past actions to taint what their hearts feel for him, that he intends to make amends with those he has wronged.
Though the rest of the album takes you on a whirlwind of an emotional journey, it is the closing track that most direly deserves to not be left without mention. The Little Things Give You Away is really best listened to when one has had their heart broken. Only then will you be able to truly take in everything this song has to offer.
That’s when you feel why Chester’s voice sounds so distant, like it’s all he can do just to open his mouth and bring the words out. The previous track, In Pieces, makes it much easier to get into the mood for this song. It’s about not being ready to be the one to end a relationship that has run its course.
When the acoustic guitar matches the melody of Chester’s voice as he sings, “Don’t want to reach for me, do you? I mean nothing to you, the little things give you away”, it feels as if the music is crying along with him. Someone can tell you they love you with all their heart, but isn’t it the little details in their actions that show how much they really mean what they proclaim?
It’s only when you’re heartbroken that you feel the grief he’s trying to let out when he wails after Brad’s solo. A solo, that feels as if Delson plugged the amplifier straight into his heart, and expressed what a human’s voice and words were simply unable to do. When it all comes to a close, as Chester’s wails soften to a little above a hum now, while Phoenix the bassist and Mike repeat their gentle intonations of “Little things give you away,” one feels lighter, as if the entire band has joined in to give them a hug.
In this way, while MTM might not have had the crushing aggression of nu-metal on offer, it allowed us to experience many more facets of what Linkin Park were capable of. Brad was allowed to let loose with three solos. We got to see the full extent of what Chester’s clean vocals were capable of, and as usual, they delivered yet another album to lighten the burden in every listener’s heart.