Review Summary: Spare us. Please.Puerta de Alcala
is a live EP by Linkin Park that was released on the 1st of February 2011. This exclusive release features six recordings from the band's performance in Madrid for the 2010 MTV Europe Music Awards, is just under 26 minutes long, and can currently be found retailing for only $4.99 at the iTunes Store. Its cover features a grey theme, with the band's logo emblazoned neatly on the top, and all six band members visibly standing under the Puerta de Alcala monument in Madrid. At the bottom, the words "A Thousand Suns: Puerta de Alcala" is written in uppercase typeset, and there appears to be a malformed orb of plasma in the background.
Now that you know what this abomination looks like, you know exactly what to avoid; or even better - shoot on sight.
Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns
was, at best, a mixed bag of results. Despite some reasonably interesting ideas and several honest-to-God attempts at decent musicianship, the album was ultimately let down by the fact that its target demographic had long since moved on to newer and greener pastures. But although the crunk metal revolution had come three years too late, there was still some scant consolation to be had in the knowledge that Linkin Park did at least try
. However, with Puerta de Alcala
, all we get is a group of six individuals seemingly intent on performing their latest impersonation of a deep-sea submersible, plumbing as they do to hitherto unknown depths. Fact: it only takes all of one rotation to discover the only half-decent thing about this EP - that it is a digital release, and thus few to no trees were likely harmed during its production.
More to the point though, the first sign of this EP's utter uselessness lies in the fact that it appears to have no target demographic. As an iTunes release it is definitely not designed to expand the band's fan base, but the supposition that this might be a gift to fans simply doesn't make any sense at all; for why would Linkin Park stop here and not include a mail order for an optional side of whale turds if they were truly trying to come up with the worst fan tribute possible? Indeed, the scene for complete and irrevocable fan-band divorce is set by album opener "New Divide" - which has always been one of the band's weakest songs to begin with. However, this particular live rendition adds nothing at all to an already-uninspired number; worse, it is strangely sterile, disinterested, and comes off sounding completely manufactured (a common theme on Puerto de Alcala
, as it turns out). Most damning however, is its ending, which features an abrupt truncation of the introductory synth to "Faint". It is as clear as antlers on a moose that this particular live performance of "New Divide" was always supposed to segue into "Faint" - so why cut the latter out and leave fans with the clumsiest thing since botched decapitations? Only God knows.
The live performances are also unusually loose - "Waiting For The End"'s bridge features a strangely out-of-pitch Mike Shinoda, and the less said about Joseph Hahn's disinterested turntabling, the better. A Thousand Suns
' lead single "The Catalyst" is also similarly clogged - check out the awkward transition into the bridge at 4.54, and Chester completely missing the song's tempo about half a minute later. And then there are those moments which are so pathetic they actually end up being hilarious - at the ending of "Breaking The Habit", for instance, Chester attempts to taper off the song by building on its final verse, but a muted response from the fans ends up making it sound like he forgot to sing the last of the lyrics instead. And while we're on the subject of the audience, it's also worth mentioning that the fans on this release sound like they were either a.) completely indifferent to Linkin Park's efforts onstage, or b.) had attended with three layers of duct tape wrapped around their mouths. Whereas live EPs tend to feature fans which virtually throttle the songs along and threaten to be legally obligated to co-billing, one could be forgiven for believing that Puerta de Alcala's
throng had been blackmailed into attending. Honestly, this could have been titled Live In Brampton, Ontario
, and no one would have been able to tell the difference.
Of the six tracks present here, "What I've Done" comes closest to shining, and by this I mean it turns a sickly hue of green instead of remaining in a shallow pallor of grey. Said track is pedestrian at best, but thankfully it doesn't lend itself to the ridiculous shenanigans of the EP's previous numbers. However, the awkward dichotomy of having a half-decent number book-end a horrifyingly bad release makes for quite a bitter aftertaste, and one which I would not wish on a mortal enemy. In short, do yourself a favour and avoid this release, even if you're a fan; no, wait - especially
if you're a fan.
May this burn inside the fires of a thousand suns.