Linkin Park heads in new direction
Linkin Park has always been a love-them-or-hate-them band.
In early August, the six-piece band from Southern California released "The Catalyst" as the new single from their early fall release, "A Thousand Suns." Many fans were a little thrown off with the anthem-like single, and wondered if maybe this time around the rap-rock band would finally leave their over-mixing antics and head in a new pop/electronic direction after a very surprising, successful fourteen-year run in an uncompromising music industry.
"We decided to finally let the music be music," said front-rapper/vocalist Mike Shinoda at a breakfast special meet-and-greet for "A Thousand Suns" on their Sept. 14 release.
Clearly, that's what it seems. "A Thousand Suns" is a true representation of the band's origins. The band finally added in more vocals and less of those awful rap stints of previous efforts, and simply mixed a little bit of hard rock with chunks of melodic hip hop hooks. The album is filled with broad lyrical intellect that makes it a very well put together album.
Although some might be tempted to skip the first tracks, don't. It might seem like unnecessary content, but it does set the serious tone attempted for the album.
The lyrics throughout the several songs in the album demonstrate the seriousness that the band is trying to imply. "Burning of the Skies," allows for lead singer Chester Bennington to wallow in self-pity, as he sings: "I'm swimming in the smoke / Of bridges I have burned / So don't apologize / I'm losing what I don't deserve." However, while Linkin Park is known to have some very deep meaningful lyrics, some of the rapping Mike Shinoda does seems a little juvenile.
The electronic/pop influence is highlighted in "Robot Boy." The auto-tuned soft piano line layered in with some good electronic touches brings in the inspiring revival for someone ready to give up. "Blackout" is equivalent to any energetic, aggressive song, spit and screamed viciously by Bennington. It's up the same alley as "Faint" and "Bleed It Out." The difference though, is the electronic inclusion.
"Iridescent" is a singing duet that demonstrates Shinoda's and Bennington's ability to collaborate and alternately share and trade lines, while the relatively ordinary arrangement comes close to emulating that soft rock feel of the last record. Unfortunately, the album's closer, "The Messenger," is just Bennington screaming over an acoustic guitar and piano that can only be explained as an overproduced attempt to emulate an original epic acoustic track.
So after getting through this 15-track compilation, Linkin Park will still be that one band you either love, hate, or love to hate. However, one thing is certain-- "A Thousand Suns" is a dramatic and welcomed album from a band that was destined for obscurity after failed attempts at sub-par remix albums.