Best Voice of Stone Temple Pilots: Chester Bennington or Scott Weiland?

(Gibson) One of the biggest surprises of the year so far was the announcement of Scott Weiland leaving Stone Temple Pilots, after being their front man since 1986 apart from their hiatus between 2003 and 2008. But even more surprising was the announcement of Weiland's replacement - Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. Reactions from fans have been both positive and negative. So let's take a look at what Bennington is able to bring to the table versus what was lost when Weiland was let go.

One thing that can be said for Chester Bennington is the fact that he is still enjoying a successful career with Linkin Park, with sold out tours and chart-topping hits with each of the band's releases. Stone Temple Pilots on the other hand, while having released new music and toured on and off for the last decade, have been left in a downwards spiral in terms of album sales, so the fresh start that guitarist Dean DeLeo (who is often seen playing a Gibson Les Paul), bassist Robert DeLeo, and drummer Eric Kretz get with the addition of Bennington might just be what the doctor ordered for the band.

Scott Weiland on the other hand has one very important thing going for him: One could easily argue that he is Stone Temple Pilots' sound, at least as far as most casual fans of the band are concerned. Throughout the band's career, Weiland has been the face of the band. He's the guy who's constantly been seen in pictures and interviews in magazines, and television.

While Weiland is the original singer of Stone Temple Pilots, it still doesn't mean that he is the only musical force in the band - far from it. The fact is that both Robert and Dean DeLeo have written the music to many of the band's songs. This becomes evident with the first release from Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington, as they are forced to call themselves due to various legal issues. The song "Out of Time" which the band released in May sounds like STP. The music and the riffs are all there. What's even more interesting is the fact that Chester even sounds a lot like Weiland in the song. He has all but ventured away from the high-pitched wails and screams that has been his trademark sound with Linkin Park. With "Out of Time" you know that it's a Stone Temple Pilots song. It's basically like a car that's gotten new wheels and a tune up.

But one important thing that the band lost when firing Weiland, is the singer's charisma. Scott Weiland is a lead singer. He has that uncanny ability to capture and spellbind an audience that few possess. It's fair to compare his stage command to that of Mick Jagger, or a young Steven Tyler. Stage presence is something that has become increasingly important in later years, when a band's major income is from touring rather than album sales. But if the audience is going to spend their hard earned money to see the band, they demand a show that is something special. A band that simply stands still and rattles off their greatest hits aren't going to sell many tickets the second time they come around as opposed to a band where the singer in particular devotes all his time on stage to entertain and captivate the audience.

Chester Bennington certainly has charisma and a natural ability to lead an audience, but maybe not quite on the same level as Weiland. However, what he does bring to the table is an influx of new fans. I recently went to a Soundgarden concert, and realized that not a single person in the audience was under thirty. It basically consisted of people who had been fans of the band during the height of their popularity who came back to relive old memories. But Linkin Park is still very much a current band with young fans that still like to experience new music. So this new STP lineup will certainly gain a bunch of new fans who are experiencing the band and its catalogue for the first time - certainly not a bad thing, and in extension it works to Scott Weiland's advantage as well, since he no doubt will see an increase in royalty payments as the band's previous albums get picked up by new fans.

Let the battle of the fans begin! Please leave your comments on whether STP should have stayed with Weiland, or if you think it's good that they're going in a new direction here.

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