Linkin Park
A Thousand Suns


3.5
great

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
September 9th, 2010 | 42 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Several steps closer to the edge, Linkin Park jump off into the unknown.

Normally, at the four-album-plus stage of one's career, critics and fans alike will attempt to draw parallels to the work done previously when a new record comes – whether it's a return to the sound of an earlier record, continuing on from the last one or even a combination of these on different tracks. Not so when it comes to discussing A Thousand Suns, the new record from Linkin Park. The album sounds nothing like 2000's Hybrid Theory, 2003's Meteora or 2007's Minutes to Midnight – not even remotely, and not even collectively. This time around, the sextet have wiped the slate entirely clean for what is almost certain to be the most divisive album of their careers thus far. It doesn't sound like a mass-unit-shifter. It doesn't sound like a Grammy winner. It doesn't even sound like a fan favourite. In short, A Thousand Suns is quite possibly the biggest sonic risk the band have ever taken – but the far greater shock to the system comes with the realisation that this is nowhere near as bad as you'd expect.

The demographic of power within the Linkin Park unit has shifted considerably on this record. With each of the band's albums, it seems it has always been the case that one member's role has gained priority over another's. In this instance, the role of turntablist/sampler Joe Hahn - aka Mr. Hahn - has staked out a far more central position in the music after being ignored almost entirely on Minutes to Midnight Back with a vengeance? Up to your interpretation, really - but the massive-sounding electronic beats that dominate the sound of the record are a major part of what makes A Thousand Suns so enticing. From an industrial-rock thud to edgier takes on hip-hop conventions, Hahn reigns supreme – certainly an unexpected turn for the better.

In turn, Mike Shinoda – the “rap guy” in Layman's, but also guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter in the band – has also been given a clearer and more distinct voice within the group, making his presence felt far more often than what is the norm for the band. “When They Come For Me” sees both him and Hahn given the floor to deliver a track quite unlike anything in the group's discography, as if to prove their collective worth. Percussion is the driving force, similar to the production style of Timbaland, with layer upon layer of tribal drumming sandwiching some nasty, churning synthesizer and a suprisingly vibrant lyrical flow from Shinoda. Sure, maybe the “try to catch up, motherfucker!” hook could have gone without, but this is, at least, one solid reason to become excited about Linkin Park in 2010.

Of course, with so much going on up the front for Hahn and Shinoda, it's easy to miss what goes on with the rest of the band. For what seems like the first time ever, Linkin Park have not made a guitar-heavy – or even guitar-friendly - record. As a matter of fact, when guitars are heard on Suns, guitarist Brad Delson is either adrift in the background or abusing the living hell out of his instrument by means of heavy feedback, pedals and droning overdrive. The latter is particularly noticeable in “Wretches and Kings,” as Delson lets the guitar radiate a scratching, relentless wail. A return to normality comes with the Edge-lite guitar of “Iridescent,” but it is all but a brief moment for what can be a record of quite ugly and unapologetic guitar sounds. This is not necessarily a bad move on the band's behalf, but it's certainly an intriguing one.

Vocalist Chester Bennington is still an omnipresence, but he interestingly seems somewhat distant from the bulk of proceedings. He still delivers on some stellar hooks – the single-ready “Burning in the Skies,” the slow-mo balladry of “Robot Boy” - but his highlights are considerably few and far between. Even more odd is that his two most involving and engaged numbers give A Thousand Suns their simultaneous best and worst tracks. “Blackout” sees Bennington pierce through the Nine Inch Nails-esque booming with some of his harshest, edgiest vocals to date, certain to offset listeners first time around but almost guaranteed to keep them coming back. It's a questionable experiment in industrial rock from an act that are not exactly what you may call well-versed in the genre, but it seems safe to deem this one a success. Conversely, at the tail-end of the record, “The Messenger” is an attempt at a heartfelt acoustic track which unquestionably fails to work on any level, from its bland chord progression to its uninspired lyrics. Bennington sounds trite, exhausted and forcing out some kind of vulnerable emotion that just doesn't seem to want to emerge.

A Thousand Suns is an album that has a particularly uncertain future. It's easy to pick who will dislike this record – Hybrid Theory purists, indier-than-thou hipsters, the girls that wrote the lyrics to “Numb” all over their diary – but what of who will enjoy this record? At this stage, it's unclear – and, in a way, this seems like exactly what the band wanted. They have have thrown everything they had into the proverbial deep end, mostly ignoring what might sell and making the exact kind of record they wanted to. Yes, it's uneven, inconsistent and at times a quite frustrating listen – but when it comes down to it, they probably wouldn't have had it any other way.



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user ratings (1850)
Chart.
2.6
average
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (4)
    "I am not the fortune and the fame nor the same person telling you to forfeit the game"...

    mmawilkinson82 (5)
    A stunning album that takes Linkin Park in a whole new direction and really shows off the ...

    Will C. (4.5)
    Linkin Park has undertaken a major step forward in their career, from the va...

    Emson652 (4)
    "It seems ugly, but it could get worse, 'Cause even a blueprint is a gift and a curse. 'Ca...

  • TheMushuPork (4)
    Linkin Park gets experimental, and goes into unexplored territory. The result? An album th...

    NickDuffy (5)
    An album that will have your emotions change as every track passes....

    MrTrashyTheTrashCan (1)
    "A Thousand Suns" is a wreck from the beginning to the end. Like the album's song "Waiting...

    NapalmDe4th (1.5)
    Linkin Park's most experimental album yet ends up proving just how incompetent the band is...

  • Irving Tan STAFF (4)
    The essence of a 2000-year old sacred Hindu scripture...presented in nu-metal form....

    rekrdskratcher (2.5)
    A funeral for Hybrid Theory/Meteora-era Linkin Park that began with Minutes to Midnight en...

    CasualListen (4)
    This is the band's first concept album. Musically, it is still not superior to the band's...

    AndrewLawson (2)
    Linkin Park has lost all of their original appeal in favor of a boring droning, electronic...

  • Peter K. Mark (3)
    Linkin Park are on a pill that's tough to swallow....

    Andrew Cannon (4)
    ...

    Chevy182 (2)
    Some potential found but that doesn’t justify this album, because of the sequence or mes...

    Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration (3)
    Is it Hybrid Theory 3? No. Is it worth listening to? If you’re willing to overlook fact ...

  • J. Ponton EMERITUS (1.5)
    Rest in peace...

    Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF (3.5)
    An extremely well-crafted rock album from a band whose (self-directed) anger is, for once,...


Comments:Add a Comment 
bailar12
September 9th 2010


1766 Comments


porque

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2010


28523 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

ATAVIN THE END

Digging: Chris Brown - X

Apollo
September 9th 2010


10307 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The catalyst sounds like a really bad dance song

Skybreaker
September 9th 2010


622 Comments


"Several steps closer to the edge, Linkin Park jump off into the unknown."

Icwatudidthar

greg84
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2010


7391 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review! Still, I don't know if I should give it a go.

Digging: Lo-Pan - Colossus

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2010


28523 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The album sounds nothing like 2000's Hybrid Theory, 2003's Meteora or 2007's Minutes to Midnight – not even remotely, and not even collectively.


yea basically


good review i posd

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2010


31173 Comments


While I agree more with Jared's review this is still really well done Atavan

Pos'd

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

Ponton
Emeritus
September 9th 2010


5793 Comments


great review

AtavanHalen
September 9th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wow, thanks a lot guys!

Willie
Moderator
September 9th 2010


15979 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

Great review. I think I'll trust you and Dave and actually check this out.

Digging: Necropoli - I

sniper
September 9th 2010


19050 Comments


Review rules I might check this out maybe idk.

BassDemon333
September 9th 2010


3377 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, this is a very well done review. You get a pos' from me for sure. Summary is perfect.

Digging: Mudvayne - L.D. 50

LG
September 9th 2010


3049 Comments


AHHH! Good review I guess.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 9th 2010


5793 Comments


I think I'll trust you and Dave and actually check this out.


Haha, I see how it is ;)

I'd rec everyone to check it out too, as the album's reception has neither been consistently bad or good. Chance you may like, equal chance that you may hate it, too.

AtavanHalen
September 9th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dave-related bias lolz

Mordecai.
September 9th 2010


8279 Comments


this album really blows. About 2 songs are good and the rest are uuuugh. no consistency. great review anyway, pos time.

AtavanHalen
September 9th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really appreciate you guys that don't like the album still saying nice things about my review. It's lovely.

Ponton
Emeritus
September 9th 2010


5793 Comments


so un-sputnik behavior going on here...

Mordecai.
September 9th 2010


8279 Comments


review sucks. blow me

AtavanHalen
September 9th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know! I was expecting seven negs and three paragraphs on why I'm wrong.



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