Review Summary: The sad fact is either way the band was fucked
Linkin Park. Say those two words to an avid music fan and you’ll either cite adoration, or complete hatred. I used to be of the former, scouring the Internet for performances of obscure B–sides released way back in 96 and jumping at the chance to jizz all over Chester Bennington’s face. Maybe. I’ve fortunately grown up since then, and will now jump at the chance to jizz over Trent Reznor.
When the band announced Minutes to Midnight
would be different from the nu–metal sound of their previous two albums, fans were unsure how to react. Meteora
, while being a decent album by its own right, was far too similar to Hybrid Theory
, while failing to capture the brilliance of that album. Probably reeling from all the one–trick pony comments the band were, they started to the traditional Linkin Park pre–release method of bull***ting by their fans, with Chester telling us to expect an album mix of punk, hip hop and classic rock. I lol’d.
The album starts off with a 1½-minute long instrumental called Wake
. It begins slowly with a promising ambience backed by what sounds like either static crackling or a log fire burning, which explodes into well–done alt rock, with a soaring guitar riff against dense drums. It segues into Given Up
, the first proper song. It has a faux–edgy riff that doesn’t know whether it wants be false punk or not. The handclaps and the jangling of guitarist Brad Delson’s car keys are unique, but it doesn’t sound right against the riff. It “explodes” into a poorly produced mess, with Chester’s vocals sounding poor. The lyrics are, frankly, abysmal, sounding like typical teenage “My mum won’t buy me an iPod, I hate her, waaaah” angst. However, unlike their previous two albums, Chester just doesn’t know why he’s so apparently pissed off. This goes on for another three minutes, although there is an interesting moment where Chester screams for 17 seconds straight.
After that “roar”, the album goes into their first ballad, Leave Out All the Rest
. While the song itself is alright, it doesn’t seem right given the previous track. The song itself is typical, almost All That You…
. Chester’s vocals are clean and nice to listen to, and the lyrics are average. Not brilliant, but not tripe either. Bleed It Out, however, is bad. Just bad. It’s the “live” sound that does it, makes it sound sloppy and rushed. Mike Shinoda’s rapping is decent, although his lyrics make no sense, and again Chester’s voice sounds worn out and it sounds like he’s trying too hard to be edgy, bless his heart.
After a “hard” song comes a ballad. Shadow of the Day
is essentially a U2
rip–off done badly. The song has a slow build-up which goes into a big pop rock climax, but the build–up is so boring you’ll cease to care. Decent video though. After the song, a cool ambient interlude leads into What I’ve Done
, which everyone and their nan has heard. It’s average pop rock that has been done before and done better. I’ve got nothing else to say on this.
Hands Held High
is laughable. It is one of the two “tr00” rap songs on the album. Starting off with a cheesy organ and a marching drumbeat, Mike’s raps are still decent, along with his inspiring lyrics. However, the song is just so cheesy it’s hard to take seriously. The choir at the end is a laughable moment.
And after that light track, we get the band’s heaviest song to date. No More Sorrow
starts off with an atmospheric and sinister intro, with each instrument building up to a nicely done riff. Chester’s lyrics are essentially a poorly–disguised “*** you” to Bush, and his voice is still relatively poor. The chorus and instrumentation make up for it though. It segues into Valentine’s Day
, with Chester’s voice probably at his best here. He sounds vulnerable and emotional, against light guitar picking and nice lyrics. It builds up into a giant rock climax near the end, which some might call cheesy, but I think it’s well done, and nothing as cheesy as Hands Held High
(but few things are).
is the other rap song. Mike’s rapping is poor and sounds lazy, and the song itself is just boring to listen to. In Pieces is standout track. It’s dark and haunting, Chester’s vocals sounding pretty good. We also get a cool guitar solo from Brad.
The Little Things Give You Away
is the final track, and is the typical final track, being the longest and arguably the slowest. Chester’s vocals are at their highest, and quite annoying. The lyrics, detailing the point-of-view of someone experiencing Hurricane Katrina are very good, and probably the band’s best to date. Again, this is another build-up track but it seems bland compared to the lyrics. The section before the guitar solo is long and too drawn-out, as is with much of the track. However, the final moments of the song are good and a highlight of the album, with Mike singing the lyric against Chester wailing in the background.
The weakness of the album is how diverse it is. Normally, this would be a compliment; however, the album doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go, so much so I’m really unsure on my rating. Putting the lightest track of the band’s career
next to their heaviest is just wrong, and the album sounds poorly rushed and put together (which is remarkable given the thousands of delays the album was put through). Another criticism is how pretty much all
of the ballads (save for Leave Out All The Rest
) rely on build–up.
The sad fact is either way the band was ***ed. If they were to release an album in the vein of their previous two, they would be slammed as one–trick ponies. Instead they released this, and got slammed for being, well, ***. There goes my Hybrid Theory
No More Sorrow