[Warner Bros. Records]
With the last Linkin Park record, A Thousand Suns, it took me some ten spins before the songs started to grow on me. Luckily, with Living Things, it only took two spins to get me thoroughly interested in the new material. While this collection does continue that atmospheric rock formula of A Thousand Suns, it also rewinds time several times to bring back the old school elements that made the band famous to begin with. Once again, it’s the rap sections that shine brightest on Living Things. The opening track, “Lost In The Echo”, has a good balance between the singing and rapping, making it a strong start for the album. From there, Living Things gives us “In My Remains” and “Burn It Down”, both of which may lead fans to think that this will become a sequel to the long winded Thousand Suns record. Luckily, “Lies Greed Misery” brings the album back around, leading with a very strong and memorable rap track, accompanied by some Meteora era screams. The song also sounds like it may have come from the Reanimation album of years back, as does the short lived “Victimized” track (which could have been so much more if the band had written it as a longer piece). Living Things may still feel too weighed down by the slower, more atmospheric material on it, but those sections are all tighter and better constructed than previously, at least. Given several spins, this record can win over even the oldest fans that fell in love with music thanks to Hybrid Theory all those years ago. – by Jacob Moore
>> Classification: Atmospheric Rock w/ industrial and hip hop elements
>> Recommended Tracks: “Lost In The Echo”, “Burn It Down”, “Lies Greed Misery”, “Victimized”, “Until It Breaks”
>> In Conclusion: Living Things is better than A Thousand Suns, thank God, and is easier to become engaged by, but it still suffers from being too slow. Longtime fans will probably never hear another LP record in the likes of Hybrid Theory or Meteora again, sadly.
This review appears in LMP #10 (June 2012). Check out the digital issue here!
A Thousand Suns
Stream: “The Messenger”
There’s a lot to be said about this release. Let’s face it: Linkin Park have changed dramatically since the days that made them famous. As a result, a good percentage of their original fan base has left their side due to the last couple years. When the band made their return with Minutes To Midnight, a lot of people were surprised by just how much Linkin Park had evolved. While half that album did certainly grow on you and become memorable, there was another half to it that fans would just skip over. With A Thousand Suns, it seems the band has chosen to further explore the more ignored sound of Minutes. There may be fifteen tracks to this disc, but around six of them are short interludes or sound bits. This will either lead the listener to think “what’s with all the filler?” or “wow, this album goes out of its way to flow from track to track”. Both thoughts would be correct. While the introduction (“The Requiem”) does have an interesting sound to it, it also feels like the album takes its sweet time getting started. It takes about six minutes before any real vocals start on A Thousand Suns. Granted, “Burning In The Skies” does grow on you with repeated listens, it feels a lot like a disappointment initially. In all honesty, the first couple times long time fans hear this album, they’re probably going to be upset. If you grew up on Hybrid Theory or Meteora, A Thousand Suns pretty much feels like a kick to the shins. There is “evolving” and then there is becoming an entirely different band. Linkin Park may as well change their name at this point. The sound of their first two albums is almost completely gone at this point. All this being said, when given the chance, A Thousand Suns does have a chance of impressing you. For example, I personally hated this album at first. But, after six or seven full listens, the songs started to get stuck in my head. In other words, this is a collection that has to grow on you. “When They Come For Me” feels like a complete violation of everything the band once stood for, but here it is. You may hate its lyrics at first, but they’ll start to creep back in your head if you hear them enough. The same goes for a lot of these songs. Not necessarily that the lyrics are bothersome, but the vocal set ups are just so different from before that you won’t like them at first. A good chunk of this track listing is composed of slow numbers. The hardest the band gets is with “Blackout”, a track that is atmospheric and electrical as Chester screams distorted into his microphone. One can’t help but wonder how a lot of these songs will play out on stage. There is one track, however, that is almost immediately entertaining without having to be heard multiple times through: “Wretches And Kings”. It feels very much like the remixes Linkin Park has released in the past through the likes of collaborations and Reanimation. Probably most interesting is the way the band chose to close this album. “The Messenger” is an acoustic piece that, surprisingly, sounds quite good. Chester may scream somewhat at times, but it actually aids in making everything feel more strained and heart felt. In conclusion, A Thousand Suns basically requires one to develop a tolerance to its sound in the beginning for it to become enjoyable. However, if you do this, then you’ll find that A Thousand Suns does offer up a lot of interestingly constructed sounds throughout. It’s just a shame how much Linkin Park have changed over the years. It’s also a bit insulting that fans have to basically forget the band they once loved to truly enjoy their latest release. Oh, well… (NL)