“A Light That Never Comes”


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Adam R. Holz

Album Review

If you had to judge from the title alone, you might guess that Linkin Park’s “A Light That Never Comes” is pretty grim.

And … you’d be about half right.

Over and over in this synthesizer-heavy rock effort (courtesy of the band’s collaboration with electronic house music DJ Steve Aoki), Linkin Park’s perpetually tortured-sounding co-frontman Chester Bennington bellows balefully, “The nights go on/Waiting for a light that never comes/I chase the sun/Waiting for a light that never comes.”

But it does come—or at least we’re given hope of its arrival—in the verses rapped by the band’s other vocalist, Mike Shinoda. In contrast to Bennington’s bleak outlook, Shinoda describes someone who’s determined not to submit to the darkness, someone who’s determined to push back against the dim destiny described in the song’s chorus.

“Nah, you don’t know me,” he begins. “Lightning above and a fire below me/You cannot catch me, cannot hold me/You cannot stop, much less control me.” In other contexts, those words might reflect a brazenly rebellious attitude. Set against the inkiness of the chorus, however, Shinoda’s bravado feels more like a rallying cry against capitulating to the lightless fate Bennington has described.

Shinoda continues, “When it rains, it pours/When the floodgates open, brace your shores.” Still, he insists he’s more than up to the challenge of facing that flood: “‘Cause I know what it’s like to test fate/Had my shoulders pressed with that weight/Stood up strong in spite of that hate.” He then leads us back into the chorus with a mash-up of two well-worn clichés about perseverance: “Night gets darkest right before the dawn/What don’t kill you makes you more strong/And I been waiting for it so long.”

One more lyric hints at the idea that the darkness can’t actually invade forever: “When I was young, they told me/Make your bed, you lie in that bed/A king can only reign ’til instead/There comes that day it’s off with his head.” And the track’s video gives some illuminating context as we’re ushered into a dark digital dystopia in which fragmented and pixelated characters are apparently fomenting a rebellion against their despotic, Orwellian overlords. It’s  Tron meets The Matrix, visually speaking, as digitized versions of the band (plus an Asian woman) struggle to energize a revolution designed to reinstate light in their shadowy wasteland.

Adam R. Holz

After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.

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