Simply put, Linkin Park are one of the definitive rock bands of the noughties. Their fusion of rap, metal and electronica proved to be an immediate and zeitgeist-defining success, and they were embraced by an alienated post-grunge generation that sought a cathartic language for their pent-up angst. Few other musicians have been so successful at capturing a universally-experienced sense of youthful frustration with the world and yourself.

The band’s 2000 debut Hybrid Theory would go on to become one of the best-selling rock albums of the 21st-century, collapsing the boundaries between heavy music and hip-hop and sending the band to the upper echelons of the global rock and metal scenes. As the decade progressed, along with their audience, Linkin Park would experience some growing pains. The band’s sound would become defined by constant evolution and they ended the decade with the divisive A Thousand Suns. The 2010’s saw frequent further changes in the band’s approach, with varying degrees of success.

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In 2017, Linkin Park’s enormously-talented vocalist Chester Bennington committed suicide. His death shocked the world and the legions of fans to whom his words had formed such an integral part of their lives. While the band have never officially disbanded, in 2022 founding member, guitarist, co-vocalist and producer Mike Shinoda said that Linkin Park have “no plans” for new music. Regardless of whether they continue or not, few would disagree that the band and Bennington have left an enduring imprint on the history of rock music.

Here we’ve taken on the tricky task of ranking the band’s seven studio albums.

7. One More Light (2017)

It’s a shame that One More Light looks like it’ll be the coda to Linkin Park’s career. The band’s 2017 effort is their only sub-par album — a pop and EDM excursion that’s as tame and unimaginative as its cover art. Its biggest flaw is how few of the band’s strengths it plays to. “Talking To Myself” plasters Chester Bennington’s emotive voice in layers of unsubtle studio trickery, while Linkin Park’s effortless mix of live instrumentation and electronica is jettisoned in place of vacant beats on “Invisible” and “Battle Symphony”. It sounds like it was conjured by an AI and mutes the band’s distinct and powerful personality.

6. The Hunting Party (2014)

A conscious decision to return to their heavier roots, The Hunting Party is a full-bodied, back-to-basics effort that attempts to recapture some of the energy of Linkin Park’s early albums. It features the best rap verse in their discography (Rakim’s charismatic contribution to “Guilt All The Same”) as well as their most uniquely punk rock moments (“Keys To The Kingdom”, “War”). There’s plenty of fun to be had, particularly on tracks featuring impressive guest stars like the aforementioned Rakim, as well as Daron Malakain, however it never quite achieves lift-off like the band’s best work. At the time of its recording, Shinoda said of the album: “We're not 18-year-old kids making a loud record — we're 37-year-old adults making a loud record”. For better and for worse, The Hunting Party sounds exactly like this description.


Under-appreciated for its effortless fusion of electronica and rock, LIVING THINGS is a solid album that sharply updates the genre amalgamations that Linkin Park pioneered. “BURN IT DOWN” is a brilliant lead single, built on an earworm synth melody and featuring soaring Chester Bennington vocals. Lively cuts like “IN MY REMAINS” and “LIES GREED MISERY” are similarly invigorating, utilizing a weighty production style that blends digital and live instrumentation with confidence and flair. The album is a little front-loaded; the tracks on the back half fail to quite live up to the thrills of those at the front. Nonetheless, LIVING THINGS succeeds in bringing Linkin Park into an era dominated by bombastic mainstream electronic dance music.

4. Minutes To Midnight (2007)

Following the enormous successes of their first two albums, Minutes To Midnight saw Linkin Park make some valiant attempts to expand their horizons. The album flattens out their spikier, more aggressive tendencies via friendlier cuts such as the joyous “Bleed It Out” and the string-filled ballad “Shadow Of The Day”. While “Given Up” and “No More Sorrow” are as heavy as anything in the group's discography, Minutes To Midnight’s most successful moments are when it explores new avenues. The results aren’t uniformly successful (“Hands Held High” strives for political resonance and fails), however, as a whole package, Minutes To Midnight sees Linkin Park elegantly reveal new layers of emotional intelligence while preserving their trademark angst and frustrations.

3. Meteora (2003)

Placing this album third might be controversial, but that’s no slight on the enduringly brilliant Meteora. Linkin Park’s sophomore album took everything that worked about Hybrid Theory and made it even more accessible and radio-friendly. A relentless crowd pleaser, the 2003 album is chocked-full of grand hits like “Breaking The Habit” and “Numb” that have become some of the most recognizable rock songs of the 21st-century. It showcases the band at their heavy best (“Hit The Floor” and “Figure.09”) and features one of the most unique tracks in the band’s whole discography — the Japanese-inflected “Nobody’s Listening”. Meteora sits in third place on this list because, though it’s excellent and widely-loved, it lacks the startling originality and artistic intent of the following two albums.

2. A Thousand Suns (2010)

Placing this above Meteora is a big call, however A Thousand Suns deserves the plaudits. Every era-defining band has an album that initially divides its fanbase but later comes to be seen as a work of brilliance. A Thousand Suns is that record for Linkin Park. The band’s most unorthodox release is a bold concept album that acutely uses themes of nuclear war and the apocalypse as potent metaphors for self-destruction and rebirth. Linkin Park’s most intelligent and meticulously-crafted release, it’s rarely “heavy”, however, as subsequent releases have proved, the band deserve to not be solely defined by the aggressive energy of their first two albums. Littered with surprising highlights, from the Public Enemy-homage “Wretches and Kings” to the transcendent “The Catalyst”, A Thousand Suns has aged magnificently.

1. Hybrid Theory (2000)

What else could be number one? Hybrid Theory is the band’s opus, an album whose legacy and influence is almost immeasurable. It achieved greater success than anything by the band’s peers because it captured, to a tee, what it’s like to feel young, misunderstood and full of pent-up rage. Its internal language of failure, isolation and confusion is vividly-realized by Chester Bennington, whose extraordinary voice sends iconic cuts like “Crawling” and “In The End” to the self-flagellating stratosphere. Behind this elite bandleader, of course, are the sharp riffs and effortless arrangements, which ebb and flow between rap, metal, electronica and alternative rock with intuitive sophistication. It’s a complete package, one whose pained catharsis struck a razor-sharp chord with turn-of-the-millenium youth culture.