Review Summary: Recharged is an uneducated dubstep record where neither the remixer nor the remixed have much to offer.Linkin Park
have tried nearly every trick in the book to stay musically relevant after the nu-metal explosion in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, but what’s especially discouraging is that every trick they’ve tried has worked. These guys are still considered alternative beasts on the Billboard charts and with every new album, it’s a new musical misstep. With electronica and dubstep being major foci for popular music nowadays, it’s to be expected that the genres would have an effect on (former) nu-metal band Linkin Park. Unfortunately, Living Things
didn’t just have electronica influences: it was an electronica album completely. While Living Things
marked Linkin Park conceding nu-metal’s uphill battle to stay relevant, Recharged
is Linkin Park’s way of blatantly announcing their recent infatuation with dubstep. But like someone who wants to play rock music but only draws influence from Nickelback, Linkin Park think that dubstep means anything that sounds like Skrillex
. This remix album (or “reinterpretation album” as Mike Shinoda calls it, whatever that means) takes these already lackluster recordings and buries them in derivativeness until nothing interesting is left. It’s as soulless a husk as the genre can bring.
None of the songs on Living Things
were as memorable as anything from Hybrid Theory
(and most certainly not as memorable as anything from Meteora
). Aside from brief traces of angsty intrigue in “Lost in the Echo” or the surprisingly atmospheric “Castle of Glass”, it was bleak and suffered from a chronic case of commercial “me-too” syndrome. It didn’t feel like an album from a band that aimed for ambitious experimentation; it felt completely stale. Even with the teenage nostalgia glasses on, it wasn’t a good album, closing every door opened by the small step forward that was A Thousand Suns
. You’d think that with four studio albums after their first remix album Reanimation
that Linkin Park would use a wider range of recordings to remix than only their most recent one, but the band’s almost fanboyish embrace of dubstep shows that nu-metal is no longer on their minds.
But this unappealing collection of tracks isn’t entirely Linkin Park’s fault. The guest dubsteppers on Recharged
are mostly grubby wubbers like Dirtyphonics
and KillSonik, artists who have prided themselves on loud, heavy, bass-drop thickened club tracks. This makes a majority of the remixes fit in with the stampede of Noisias, Excisions and Skrillexes running riot across iTunes. Ambiance is not the name of the game on Recharged
; it’s constantly shoved aside for randomly placed bass drops and screeching effect sirens without any kind of careful organization. The few traces of diversity on Recharged
’s remix lineup lie in songs like Rad Omen’s remix of “Powerless” (a track that sneaks in some nice melody and doesn’t overdo it on the drops) and Money Mark’s remix of “Until it Breaks” (one that actually adds instrument samples that aren’t grounded in wub). For the most part, however, the dubstep contributors on Recharged
make no effort to distinguish themselves from each other, causing the album to blend together into an hour-long mess of bass drops and warped synths.
The Steve Aoki
-joined “A Light That Never Comes” is the only brand new song on Recharged
and it really isn’t anything to write home about. The same rap-sing combo from Shinoda and Bennington that Linkin Park has been using for more than a decade is bombarded from all sides by fluctuating electronica effects, making it sound even more cluttered and claustrophobic than anything released on Living Things
. In addition to the dubstep artists on board, the band brings in a few guest rappers as well like Clipse’s Pusha T
and UGK’s Bun B
. These rappers have very brief inclusions on their respective tracks and behind the synths and bass drops, it’s very hard to hear the distinction in their rapping style. Compared to the plethora of additional singers and rappers on Reanimation
, each with a different musical style or background, Recharged
has barely any notable guests on vocals. It’s really all about the dubstep.
Mike Shinoda himself also contributes two remixes to Recharged
in “Castle of Glass” and “Victimized.” While the former isn’t terrible (though it doesn’t sound nearly as ephemeral as the original Living Things
recording), the latter is a prime example of how to degrade a song a dozen or so notches through electronica effects. Shinoda’s remix of “Victimized” is a trainwreck of a recording with every single effect on the system turned up to maximum with no rhyme or reason to think of. It’s loud, it’s obnoxious and it’s by far the track that gets the worst treatment on Recharged
(and that’s saying something considering how lackluster the original track was).
is a record drained of distinction. So much of the album is rooted in dubstep tropes; the brief traces of creativity are smothered by loud and randomly included effects. Seriously: there are fan remixes of Linkin Park recordings that sound better than anything on Recharged
. But even if the dubstep contributors made the remixes better and quelled the drops for two seconds, the selection of songs being nearly exclusively from Living Things
is a limiting concept. With such a huge discography and clear electronic influence on A Thousand Suns
, why not delve into the backlog instead of drawing purely from one of the band’s worst projects? All in all, this isn’t just poor recording and remixing; it’s Linkin Park narrowly focusing on their new dubstep fascination and in the most uneducated way possible. Recharged
is a bad Linkin Park album and an even worse dubstep album. If Linkin Park’s future goes further down this road, there won’t be anything left to salvage by the end of next year.