The website The Music Network recently had the opportunity to listen to Linkin Park’s newest album “A Thousand Suns“. The album doesn’t come out until September 14th but luckily they wrote a review for all the LP fans.
Off the bat, I’m thinking that “Blackout” will be one of my favorite tracks off the album.
Check out the review after the break to see what TMN thinks of the album.
Track one, The Requiem, starts with desolate atmos and sparse piano. A ghostly choir starts chanting and a robot girl voice (which is actually a filtered Shinoda) sings the refrain from the first single The Catalyst – “God bless us everyone / We’re a broken people living under loaded gun”. Sounds like the start of a movie.
It segues into The Radiance, which is mostly the audio quote from Oppenheimer’s infamous ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ speech after he detonated the first atomic bomb. Heavy topics, but where’s the songs?
Ahhh here they are… track three Burning In The Skies kicks off with a clubby electronic drum beat, a stark piano motif (henceforth known as the Apocalyptic Piano™) and hardly any guitars! You can hear fans gnashing their teeth already.
Track four Empty Spaces is just crickets and distant bombs, before track five When They Come For Me throws that out the window with a jarring blast of electronic pulses, mechanical percussion and hip hop beats. Co-frontman Mike Shinoda is back on the mic and rapping (!) and even dropping some ‘motherfuckers’.
Whoah! One minute we’re smoking bridges and lamenting life after the apocalypse and now we’re putting our hands in the air like we just don’t care! Is there a bomb shelter in the house?! Who cares – robot rap party! Chester taunts ‘Come for me, come for me’ in the bridge before the tune explodes again. Sounds a lot like Shinoda’s side-project Fort Minor.
Back to playing the Apocalyptic Piano™ on the edge of extinction for track six Robot Boy with some thunderclap drums and atmospheric keys. It’s a slower, more melodic string-laden track, with reverbed vocals singing “You say you’re not gonna fight ‘cause no one’s gonna fight for you”. Not terribly exciting this one.
Track seven Jornado Del Muerto is another useless segue track but the following Waiting for the End shows promise with an interesting robotic beat and Shinoda rapping in a ragga style. Bennington comes in with a big, almost ballad-like chorus – “All I wanna do is treat it like it’s something new” – before another fist-pumping Shinoda shakedown.
Older fans will welcome Blackout with Bennington quickly spitting lyrics about acid rain and anarchy over a chugging distorted guitar before chewing razorblades and screaming the chorus ‘Blackout, blood in your eyes’. After a huge metal dubstep breakdown, it falls into a quiet lull starring Apocalyptic Piano™ and Bennington’s auto-tweaked balladeering. The ending feels tacked on. Strange.
Next track Wretches and Kings is a hard-hitting highlight. A monstrous breakbeat, thundering bass and freaked-out guitar explode as Shinoda reworks Public Enemy’s “bass, how low will you go?” to “To save face, how low will you go?” in this cybernetic fight track. Benington bursts into the chorus shrieking and it sounds epic.The moshpit will eat this up.
Then it’s over to another segue Wisdom, Justice and Love and a Martin Luther King quote that slowly morphs into an evil robot voice.
Ahhh, the Apoca-piano™ returns! Iridescent is a mid-tempo Linkin ballad aka previous hits like Leave Out All The Rest. Triple M will be relieved! Finally a track they can play. Features some of Benington’s wettest lyrics on ATS, “Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? / Remember all the sadness and frustrations and… let it go!” One of the only singable songs.
Fallout is another interlude with Shinoda’s robotic voice singing lyrics from Burning Up The Skies. It fades into first single The Catalyst, which, despite fans fighting tooth and nail on the internet, is the best distillation of Linkin Park 2.0. Bursting forth with trance-like synths, programmed beats and a slow-burning tension, it builds to a huge fist-in-the-air battle cry. If this was a film, this would be the victorious fight scene.
And then we’re left with final track, The Messenger, where Bennington swaps the Apoca-piano™ for the Apocalyptic Campfire Jam™ and an acoustic guitar. Yes, an acoustic guitar. We thought they’d all be destroyed in the nuclear fire, but no, Benington gives it a bash. Singing raw and without Autotune, he murders this song and really over-sings it. Truly painful. Think he snuck this one onto the record after the other guys had left for the day.
Overall, A Thousand Suns is a radical shift for the band, but it’s also a very uneven one. Linkin Park has always been about the synergy of its frontmen, but this time they feel like opposing forces, pulling in different directions in pursuit of reinvention.
As such, while there’s some commanding moments (The Catalyst, Wretches and Kings), many of the tracks feel like experiments rather than fully-formed songs.
A Thousand Suns may well be Linkin Park’s great departure, but for now, their destination still feels unclear.
So there you have it, a full review of Linkin Park’s new album. Still not enough?
Well you can always click HERE to check out snippets of each track off the album.
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