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Track Review: Fighting Myself - Linkin Park (Meteora20)

Track Review: Fighting Myself - Linkin Park

Back in February 2023, Californian rock band Linkin Park announced their plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their iconic 2nd album ‘Meteora’. Following their debut record ‘Hybrid Theory’ and their first remix album ‘Reanimation’, ‘Meteora’ has sold over 27 million copies worldwide and has been certified platinum 7 times. Since the original release in 2003, the band’s direction underwent many changes, but they maintained a loyal fanbase and future album successes up until 2017 with the tragic passing of their lead singer Chester Bennington. 

While there has not been any new music from the band since 2017, Linkin Park celebrated the 20th anniversary of ‘Hybrid Theory’ with a limited edition boxset and released demos, rarities and never before heard songs onto all streaming platforms. Taking inspiration from this and the success of the effort, the band have decided to hold a similar celebration for ‘Meteora’, called 'Meteora20', with April 7th 2023 being the official release day of the deluxe box set.

The initial announcement came with a never before heard song from 2003, titled ‘Lost’, and the boxset will include a CD titled ‘Lost Demos’, which contains more never before heard songs that didn’t make the final album. Now the band has released another lost demo, called ‘Fighting Myself’. 

Shinoda previewed the song on Howard Stern’s radio show on Sirius XM. He compared hearing it for the first time in 20 years to finding an old photograph and a gift. He also revealed a unique insight that while he was aware of ‘Fighting Myself’, the only version he thought existed did not include any of Bennington’s vocals. He was able to locate the version with just the beat and his rap verses, but, to his complete surprise and amazement, management then found the stems of a full version with Bennington on it.

Unlike the previous release ‘Lost’, which only featured sung vocals by the late Chester Bennington, ‘Fighting Myself’ follows Linkin Park’s early classic and iconic song structure. The verses are rapped by co-vocalist Mike Shinoda, with Bennington passionately driving the hook with his distinctive and emotive vocals. The bridge leads to the two vocalists harmonising as they build up, bolstered by Bennington’s sustained notes behind the harmony, towards a grand final chorus. The track ends suddenly at its loudest, again a familiar trope of the band. 

Linkin Park, since their origin, was unique in successfully combining rock influenced drums and distorted guitar riffs with hip hop style electronic beats and sampling. ‘Fighting Myself’ follows this theme, beginning with an isolated sampled vocal before the full band enters, with heavy electric guitars, a driving bass and crashing live drums.

The fragile sample filters in and out across the duration of the song. The full song, carried not only by the renowned vocals but also the instantly recognisable vintage Linkin Park riffs, played by Brad Delson, possesses the unmistakable trademark sound and style of a Linkin Park song from the era it was made in.

‘Fighting Myself’ would certainly have fit into the core sound and structure of ‘Meteora’. I personally see a particularly strong link between this outtake and the 3rd song off the album - ‘Somewhere I belong’ - due to both songs incorporating an isolated sampled element at the start of the track (a reversed guitar in ‘Somewhere I belong’ and a chopped vocal in the demo), as well as the similar vocal delivery in the hooks either side of Shinoda’s rapping. It is a testament to the brilliance and genius of the band in 2003 that only one of these songs made the final album.

The subject matter of the song will also be familiar to Linkin Park fans and those aware of the band's early music. Themes of self-doubt and introspection run through ‘Meteora’, and this track is no different. In the first verse we hear Shinoda’s frustrations as he attacks the lines “Try to act like I don't mind it, try to keep my mouth so quiet / But sittin' there in my silence, just seems to amplify it”. The band has always offered an outlet or catharsis for people who are shy or introverted and struggle to express their true emotions, and lyrics like this resonate particularly because they are delivered by someone who embodied that personality, finding their outlet through art. 

These themes are consistent all the way through the second verse: “I don't want you to promise you can change everything and make it better / ‘Cause you can bet, I'm gonna end up ruining it forever”. The verses reinforce the theme of self-doubt and lack of belief through a channel that, as Linkin Park has often carried out expertly, creates a sense of hopefulness within the anguish.

The chorus elevates the noise and the themes of frustration and the most prominent issue, regret. The verses move towards a boiling point that overflows as Bennington’s intense symphonic screams crash into the fold. As the drums reach maximum intensity and the electric guitars expand as the main riff strikes, Bennington bellows the lyrics “Falling from grace, I watch it all come apart / Knowing I could've changed it all from the start”. Both of Shinoda’s verses end with repeating the word ‘regrets’ before Bennington sings this chorus, aptly connecting the frustration and dismay through a crescendoed outburst.

Before the final chorus, we hear both vocalists reiterate the words “I can't see 'cause I'm focused on the past”, reinforcing the theme of regret and the intensity that comes with fixating on what has been with no way of changing it. When the final chorus hits with the words the listener has become familiar with, there is an added aura of sharp anger off the back of this bridge, and the song abruptly ends at the highest point of emotion.

‘Fighting Myself’ captures the true essence of Linkin Park during its peak in terms of success and original formula. This song is a true gem for any Linkin Park fans and those who enjoy their early music. With the full release of the anniversary celebration packages coming on April 7th, fans will be able to listen to 10 more never heard before demos and outtakes from Linkin Park’s timeless album, ‘Meteora’.



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Tags: Chester Bennington HipHop Meteora20 Linkin Park Meteora Rap Mike Shinoda Metal Rock


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