Review Summary: Linkin Park's two sides combine into one.3 of 4 thought this review was well written
After Minutes to Midnight
was released, it had seemed that Linkin Park had lost their nu-metal edge. There were ballads scattered around the album, and the Chester Bennington-Mike Shinoda rap-rock combo was absent from the album. Three years later, A Thousand Suns
further proved this point, as the album was filled with electronic elements and slow songs. There were some anger-infused moments (see "Blackout"), and some rapping ("When They Come For Me", "Wretches and Kings"), but the album was mainly electronic-influenced rock. Two years later, Linkin Park announced their fifth album, Living Things
, and stated that it wouldn't be a return to their nu-metal roots; it would be a mash-up of the best parts of their previous four albums.
"Lost in the Echo" and "Burn it Down" bring back the rap-rock fusion that was present in their Hybrid Theory
days, with Shinoda rapping the verses and Bennington singing the chorus. The former track is full of energy, has a nice electronic beat, and Chester actually lets off a nice scream. Shinoda's rapping here is spot-on, addressing his critics and stating how he'll never quit. The latter is plagued with mediocre lyrics such as "We're building it up to break it back down / We're building it up to burn it down / We can't wait to burn it to the ground" in the chorus and "You told me yes / You held me high / And I believed when you told that lie". Seriously, guys, you're in your 30s. Stop acting like you're teenagers. The rest of the song is fairly decent, although it's nothing spectacular. "Lies Greed Misery" is filled to the brim with angst, like "One Step Closer", but fails in every way possible by having Shinoda drop clunky raps and an overproduced chorus. "Victimized", however, clocks in at a minute and forty-six seconds, which is way too short for the song to fully process its idea. It features heavy drumming from Rob Bourdon, some rapping from Shinoda, and a scream-filled chorus from Chester. In the end, the song ends up feeling lazily constructed.
Those are all the call-backs to Hybrid Theory
, and they're mostly average. The rest of the album is ballads and electronic-influenced tunes. "In My Remains" is probably the best of them all, with tons of energy and a catchy chorus, and an echo that resonates at the end of the song, which, in my opinion, is fantastic. "Tinfoil", however, is an instrumental (like "Cure from the Itch" or "Session"), but is only a minute long. Had it been two minutes longer, it would have been a necessary interlude to the beautiful final track, "Powerless", but it doesn't get enough time to fully develop and ends up being unnecessary. Speaking of "Powerless", it's another great ballad, with the lyrics being above-par for LP, even if it isn't clear what they're singing about. Chester's vocals are crisp-clear here, and it ends the album on a high note. It isn't another "Numb", or even "Pushing Me Away", but it's up there on the list of LP album closers.
Unfortunately, not every one of them is great. "Roads Untraveled" is the "In Between" of the album, with Mike Shinoda singing lead vocals. Like "In Between", his personality is drained, and his vocals end up sterile and vapid. "Skin to Bone" boasts one of the most redundant choruses of the album ("Ash to ashes / dust to dust / skin to bone / steel to rust / right to left / left to right / night to day and day to night"). And "Castle of Glass" is a bland tune that has nothing to offer, and is inferior to "Powerless".
In the end, the album is a step up from A Thousand Suns
, but isn't another Meteora
. It tries to appeal to every Linkin Park fan, and that is where it fails. From the nu-metal ones who have adored them from the very start, to the newer ones who crave their newer work, the album meshes the two sides of Linkin Park into one. If they put more effort into the shorter songs like "Victimized" or "Tinfoil", took out some of the boring songs, and lessened the electronic elements, we could have easily have a decent album. However, because they didn't, the album is nothing short of average. The album is unfocused on what it wants to be, and it would be nice if they just stuck with one genre.