Review Summary: Linkin Park take a massive step in the right direction.
No reward without risk, and Linkin Park take a handful of both. Ditching processed beats, dusting off their guitars and drum sticks, the boys are alive and kicking and there's no greater proof than their latest album. 'The Hunting Party' is an organic record that mixes furious punk chemistry with rap and heavy metal elements. If there's a message in this pile of new-found aggression, it definitely revolves around gesticulation in the form of a middle finger.
Unlike their previous album openers, 'Keys to the Kingdom' blasts hard, steady and straight to the point: this is a rock album. Gone are the synths and keyboards from 'Lost in the Echo' or the excessively long intros from 'A Thousand Suns'. This is riff-town, the older brother of nu-metal and a more serious, albeit fun take on vicious punk. There are exceptions - songs like 'Final Masquerade' and 'Until It's Gone' reinstate the mainstream/slightly pop side of their sound, but with better song writing and actual music.
Lyrically, it's often up or down - there are plenty of bland and generic lines here and there as well as some decent writing. However, what the album lacks in words makes up for in music. Brad Delson and Rob Bourdon have stepped out of the shadows to display some of the band's best instrumentation since Meteora. The two vocalists have also stepped up. The mastermind behind Fort Minor displays some impressive flow on 'All for Nothing' and 'Wastelands' and successfully takes on the mantra of lead singer on more than a few songs, most notably the highly dynamic 'A Line in the Sand', which also happens to be one the highlights of the record. Chester treads into uncharted territory with some chilling vocal range on 'Mark the Graves', but most of his parts fail to impress with the exception of some strong screams in the album opener and 'Rebellion'.
Guest appearances are mostly a swing and a miss. Tom Morello is the obvious disappointment, his presence is completely unnoticeable on 'Drawbar', while 'Rebellion' could have used some of Daron's vocals and Rakim could have just been left out completely. Page Hamilton's contribution on 'All for Nothing', however, is one of the best things on the record and happens to feature the most memorable chorus from this track list.
'The Hunting Party' is a huge risk for a brand and image like Linkin Park. There's a handful of songs here that would likely cause your grandmother or techno-savy friend to instantly switch off the radio. However, it's a massive step in the right direction and puts the band back on the music map. It's hard to argue against fans who claim this is the album that should have come out after Meteora, because well...it really should have. It feels like a completely natural progression in terms of sound and maturity while at the same time reinstates the band's relevancy in the music scene.
Keys to the Kingdom, All for Nothing, A Line in the Sand