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Best Linkin Park Albums: The Studio Discography, Ranked, Reviewed
List & Guides

Best Linkin Park Albums: The Studio Discography, Ranked, Reviewed

With emotionally charged lyrics and rap-metal howls of rage, the best Linkin Park albums showcase the group’s evolution and experimentation.

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A mainstay in the rock and alternative music scene for over two decades, Linkin Park are widely considered to be one of the most successful bands of all time. From their debut album, Hybrid Theory, to their final release, One More Light, the best Linkin Park albums trace the development of a group that emerged during the birth pangs of nu metal before coming of age and producing some of the most innovative and fearlessly experimental music in rock history.

Tragically, the death of their frontman, Chester Bennington, in 2017 put the group’s continued evolution on ice; however, Linkin Park’s discography has undoubtedly secured the group’s standing among the best musicians of the 2000s, remaining hugely popular with both alternative and mainstream audiences. Prepare to discover somewhere you belong, as we count down the best Linkin Park albums – their entire studio discography, ranked and reviewed…

Listen to the best of Linkin Park here, and check out our best Linkin Park albums, below.

7: ‘One More Light’ (2017)

Released just one month before singer Chester Bennington’s death, Linkin Park’s final album, One More Light, hits even harder now than it did at the time of its release. Though the music within was far removed from the band’s nu-metal origins – lead single Heavy boasts a more pop-oriented sound, courtesy of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber songwriter Julia Michaels – One More Light’s standout title track is quite possibly the most heart-wrenching epitaph to the life of Chester Bennington than fans could have anticipated. “Who cares if one more light goes out?/In the sky of a million stars/It flickers, flickers,” he sings. Musically, however, Linkin Park’s move into a more pop-friendly direction seemed to be a source of amusement to the group. “I find it so cute that some of our fans still haven’t figured out what we’re about,” Bennington told Kerrang! magazine. “It doesn’t surprise me – I expected it as we do throw some pretty big curveballs.”

Must hear: One More Light

6: ‘Living Things’ (2012)

By the early 2000s, Linkin Park were wearing their nu-metal crown slightly askew, and the best Linkin Park albums began to consciously straddle the line between crowd-pleasing rock anthems and EDM-inspired experimentalism. Their fifth album, Living Things – the group’s final record produced by Rick Rubin – saw the band blend their trademark sound with a more contemporary and electronic approach, going so far to incorporate dubstep elements on the song Lies Greed Misery. “We wanted to bring some of the old fans into the new and some of the new fans into the old and mix it up,” rapper and guitarist Mike Shinoda said in an interview with Complex. “We realised that if we made a third record like the first two, that we’d be stuck with doing that forever, and that terrified us.” The band’s use of synthesisers and pulsating beats is subtle but effective, adding depth and texture to the songs on Living Things, particularly on the tracks Burn It Down and Lost In The Echo. A must-listen for both longtime fans and those new to the group’s music, Living Things showcases Linkin Park’s continued evolution as a band.

Must hear: Burn It Down

5: ‘The Hunting Party’ (2014)

Returning to their heavier roots with a focus on guitar-driven rock, Linkin Park’s 2014 album, The Hunting Party, features a veritable roll-call of cameos from Kerrang!-era icons, with Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello performing on Drawbar and System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian shredding his heart out on Rebellion. With the band putting the album’s third single, Wastelands, in pride of place in their live sets, The Hunting Party was praised by fans for the way in which it fused Linkin Park’s eclectic mix of styles with a hard-rocking back-to-basics approach. Tellingly, it was the first album that the group produced by themselves, having learnt the ropes under the auspices of Rick Rubin. “I’ve always known that we could make good records on our own, without a producer,” Chester Bennington said in an interview with Revolver. “There’s a real special relationship that we have when we’re creating a record.”

Must hear: Wastelands

4: ‘Minutes To Midnight’ (2007)

Steering themselves away from the nu-metal approach of Hybrid Theory and Meteora, Linkin Park’s third album, Minutes To Midnight, is a streamlined, stadium-sized offering that branched out into U2-indebted alternative rock. With Rick Rubin on production duty, the band embraced more serpentine song arrangements while ensuring their fangs remained sharp enough not to alienate their fanbase as they shed their nu-metal skins. “To abandon that is scary, because what do you have up your sleeve that could possibly be better?” Mike Shinoda said in an interview with Blender magazine. “But with enough failed experiments, enough screwed-up stuff, we finally figured, OK. This is the new sound of the band.” From the doomsday rock of What I’ve Done to the torch-lit balladry of Shadow Of The Day, Minutes To Midnight demonstrated how the best Linkin Park albums gave the group space to test their versatility and musical range, showcasing a more forward-thinking blend of stadium-ready alt-rock in the process.

Must hear: What I’ve Done

3: ‘A Thousand Suns’ (2010)

Believed by many fans to be a concept album, Linkin Park’s fourth outing, A Thousand Suns, saw the band team up once again with producer Rick Rubin to escape the trappings of nu metal and diversify their sound further, with added potency. “When it began, it was really, really loose,” Mike Shinoda told Kerrang! “Over the course of months, those evolved into actual songs. But because they started from jams, the structures tended to be more adventurous.” Featuring a wide range of musical styles, including electronica, industrial rock and hip-hop, A Thousand Suns may not have been as heavy as the likes of Hybrid Theory or Meteora, but it still holds up as one of Linkin Park’s most cohesive records. “We found a way of being aggressive without guitars,” Chester Bennington added. “We found a way of doing hip-hop that doesn’t sound like rap-rock.” Seen as a departure from the band’s earlier work, A Thousand Suns has aged incredibly well and is now recognised as Linkin Park’s most bold and ambitious artistic statement.

Must hear: Waiting for the End

2: ‘Meteora’ (2003)

Building on the foundation laid by Hybrid Theory and featuring smatterings of electronic textures and a sprinkling of experimental production touches at the urging of producer Rick Rubin, Meteora saw Linkin Park delve even deeper into an often-harrowing lyrical exploration of singer Chester Bennington’s inner psyche. “I think there’s a definite hint of optimism that wasn’t there [on Hybrid Theory],” the singer told SPIN magazine. “Meteora’s still a dark record, but it’s a different kind of dark. It’s not pitch-black – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” Home to many of the best Linkin Park songs – Numb, Somewhere I Belong and Breaking The Habit among them – Meteora showcases the group’s ability to evolve their sound while still staying true to their signature nu-metal sound. With more than 16 million copies sold worldwide, it’s an album that only confirmed Linkin Park’s standing as one of the best bands of the early 21st century.

Must hear: Numb

1: ‘Hybrid Theory’ (2000)

Widely considered the crowning achievement among the best Linkin Park albums, and a defining work of the nu-metal era, Hybrid Theory brought to the world the combination of Chester Bennington’s throat-shredding vocals and Mike Shinoda’s down-to-earth rapping, and it chimed with millions of disaffected teens while wrestling with socially charged themes of emotional angst and depression. Feeling irked at how Linkin Park were “put on a pedestal as the trophy boys of nu metal”, the band’s turntablist, Joe Hahn, told NME that Hybrid Theory proved they were more than that. “Our album combined so many styles, it felt like a much bigger approach,” he said. “We didn’t call it Nu-Metal Theory; it was Hybrid Theory because we wanted to make something different.” Going on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide and featuring classic songs such as In the End, Crawling and Papercut, Hybrid Theory remains a historic release that offers a powerful and unforgettable listening experience.

Must hear: In the End

Find out where Linkin Park rank among the best 2000s musicians.

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