No matter how you view the nu metal era of the late 90s and early 2000s, there's no denying that the period birthed a wealth of heavier acts that have gone on to dominate radio over the last decade-plus. One of those bands, Linkin Park, was right at the center of the nu metal explosion with their 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory, and despite some knocks over the years from metal purists, Chester Bennington sees his band's role as vital to keeping heavy music alive.

Speaking with Metal Hammer and responding to metalheads who question the group's metal integrity and dismiss Linkin Park as a boy band with guitars, he explains, "I think that's funny -- just those words 'the integrity of metal.' In my opinion, we actually kept metal alive."

The singer explains that over the course of a decade, they went from a band just trying to get heard to being one of the bands that influenced some of what you're hearing from hard rock and metal acts today.

“I met a kid a few days ago who said, ‘You were the first rock band I ever listened to’ and I hear that all the time. We played a surprise Vans Warped tour show in California in 2014 and had a whole bunch of singers from other bands come up and sing with us," states Bennington, who adds, “Every one of them was either, ‘Your band was my first record.’ Or, ‘Your band is the reason I’m playing music.’ It was maybe the first time where I felt like we were the band that people looked at in the way that I look at Deftones, Metallica and Stone Temple Pilots."

Bennington goes more in-depth about Hybrid Theory and the influence that album has had as part of an article in the latest Metal Hammer, which is available on newsstands and online here.

Linkin Park are currently in the studio working on their next album, which is tentatively expected in either late 2016 or 2017.

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