This is not a 10 minute review bashing Linkin Park. The band’s history is intriguing and well known, and when evolving throughout a musical career, bridges will be burned. Linkin Park broke on the scene in 2000 with Hybrid Theory and only extended their rap-rock-metal sound into the follow-up Meteora. Yet, ever since, they have deliberately flirted with various other genres and styles with varying success. On one hand, they clearly broke free of their nu-metal origins. Good. Yet on the other hand, they alienated an entire fan base of individuals who still, to this day, only see two actual good albums in the band’s canon.
Yet, the LinkinParkof 2012 is a totally new beast. In many ways, they took three steps to realize who they are. This is not confirmed by the band by any means, but Living Things appears to be a closing of a trilogy that began with Minutes to Midnight and continued with 2010′s A Thousand Suns. All three respective albums had strong political leanings, experimental soundstyles, and eventually grew into the current day Linkin Park. Does all this make Living Things a quality album? No, not really. But it does help substantiate that just because a band is different or hav
e grown their sound, that is not reason enough to call them “bad.” Because in reality, Linkin Park aren’t ‘bad.’ their actually quite competent, and can craft a killer hook.- sometimes. Yet Living Things isn’t bland and largely uninteresting because it’s different from the band’s history. It is those things because the songwriting is lacking.
This is not to say the Living Things is a bad album. In My Remains is a powerful little track that shows us a great rap performance by Mike Shinoda, the second head of the two-headed snake. Chester Bennington shines radiantly with quite possibly the best song on the album in Burn it Down.
The band still follow that extended soft/hard ballad formula they took too far in Minutes to Midnight,” in the song Roads Untraveled. On another note, I’ll Be Gone is one of the best songs on the album, with a rock solid hook and impeccable lyrics. The album opens brilliantly with Lost in the Echo that shows us a heavy keyboard lead and hook. Yet with these successes comes the unremarkable. Skin to Bone offers nothing interesting lyrically or musically, opting for a repeated weak hook over anything of substance in construct.Castle ofGlass never moves forward from its opening, and barely turns any attention towards it upon its close. The album closes with Powerless, and there is something odd about a band that closes an album with pretty much the worst song in the bunch, not just once- but twice (A Thousand Suns ended with a total wreck of a ballad).
The album really showcases Shinoda as a significant and perhaps lead vocal performance. He accents many of the songs with his vocals, slanting toward rapping over his hit-or-miss singing voice. Songs like Until it Breaks and Lies Greed Misery stand almost solely on Shinoda’s rapping, and he is clearly the most relevant and important inclusion to the majority of these songs.
Linkin Park up their electronics and tone down any actual guitar work even further. But for what it is worth, the album stands on the shoulders of Shinoda and his rapping, and the multi-layered electronic work that propels the majority of these tracks. The pieces are in place for a high quality album, but in the end, you have a decent showing of tracks from a band who are obviously talented, but find it hard to gather enough momentum and dynamism to make the songs truly interesting. I wanted to really like this album, especially after hearing the less than 2 minute track “Victimized” which had Shinoda and Bennington in top form and angry as hell. That song did more in 2 minutes than most of these songs do in their full typical length.
This is the best albumLinkinParkhas released since their conscious experimental steps began in 2007. With that said, don’t dislike this album because it is almost entirely removed from the sound they had when you were first discovering the band, but dislike it because this new incarnation isn’t all that great to begin with.
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