Manafest and Linkin Park provide similarities musically, but they have very different perspectives regarding the fight of life.
There are two groups who both have a song called “Not Alone.”
In one song, the chorus resounds: “I know what you’re fighting for, you’re in the middle of war. You’ve been down on your broken road. There’s still hope. You are not alone. Tell me what you’re waiting for. Just let me open up the door to give you hope. You are not alone.”
The other declares: “Go, giving up your home. Go, leaving all you've known. You are not alone.”
One is a message of understanding and companionship. The other is of defeated commiseration. Same song title--very different messages.
That, of course, is just one obvious, glaring difference between the multi-platinum-selling seminal rock band Linkin Park and the up-and-coming Canadian Christian rock-rapper known as Manafest.
Linkin Park--the band with the more defeatist lyrics--is one of the best-selling rock bands of the last decade. Breaking out with “One Step Closer”--the angst-ridden single from 2000’s Hybrid Theory--the band began a sprint that has netted them sales of more than 50 million albums, Diamond-level sales for their debut album, two GRAMMY awards, 10 No. 1 singles on the Billboard chart, and plenty of other accolades.
The band’s mix of hard rock, electronic and hip-hop elements set it apart in its early years, yet the group has gradually seen its sales decline with each album. Starting with 2007’s Minutes to Midnight, the band took a generally more mellow approach to their music, relegating the angst of Hybrid Theory and sophomore project Meteora to several tracks per album.
Linkin Park’s latest project, A Thousand Suns, features a greater presence of electronic elements, and a more muted presence of rapper Mike Shinoda’s rhymes. But when they are present, the rhymes are profanity-laced, and lack the intellectual depth and artistry of the band’s earlier days. And we haven’t even begun to touch on the band’s recent obsession with the themes of depression, loss, apocalyptic fear, rage, and hopelessness.
So what’s a fan to do when they miss the old Linkin Park, and can’t handle the new one? Enter Manafest.
Manafest--a.k.a. Chris Greenwood of Pickering, Ontario--merges rock and rap in his music, and his development somewhat mirrors that of Linkin Park. Initially focused just on rapping, Manafest has, over six albums, transitioned into a mostly-rock outfit, with smatterings of rhymes here and there. (Just like Linkin Park.)
With 2010’s The Chase, Manafest provided much to love for fans of Linkin Park’s Meteora and Hybrid Theory. Songs like “No Plan B”, “The Chase”, “Every Time You Run” and “Renegade,” Manafest embodies the interplay between passionate lead vocalist--a role both he and Thousand Foot Krutch’s Trevor McNevan fill--and hype-driving storytelling rapper.
With his April 2012 album, Fighter, Manafest fully grabs the reins as rock band lead singer, taking a decidedly intentional turn from the hip-hop that has driven his songs. Fighter--while very different musically from today's Linkin Park at times--will find a home with LP fans with electronic- and distortion-driven songs like “Throw it Away”, “Will You Catch Me”, “Never Let You Go”, “Come Alive” and “Human.” The title track, “Fighter,” sounds like what might’ve been with Linkin Park if the band had a sunnier side.
Manafest has merged his rhythmic methods and his burgeoning vocals in ways Linkin Park hasn’t; his singing often takes a rap-like meter, which provides something different, musically, in a world of sameness.
And beyond that, is a message of hope and overcoming. (Read our staff review of Fighter here.) Manafest’s themes are in direct contrast to his Linkin Park contemporaries, whose last few albums are stuck on themes of imminent destruction, pain and fear.
"I'm always there to give you the don't-give-up message," Manafest says. “I’ve had the willingness to bear pain to get through all this, and I’m winning now. Fighter was made to keep bringing a light to people; keep fighting.”
NRT Senior Editor Marcus Hathcock has been a newspaper reporter, an editor and now Communications Director for East Hill Church in Gresham, OR. He's also been involved in opera, acappella, a CCM group and now is a songwriter and one of the worship leaders at East Hill. Follow his journey at www.mheternal.com.
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