Review Summary: Simply guitars and anger alone do not a classic record make.
Fifteen year old me is in his fu
cking element right now. There’s no mistaking Linkin Park made their name among angst ridden teenagers and it’s now on their 6th full length that they decide to throw those same teenagers another bone by playing with guitars again. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear an old favorite sounding like an old favorite again, but let’s not lose our heads here. Without a doubt Shinoda tears up the mic on the verses of “All for Nothing” (sounds like he is anyway, pedestrian rhyme schemes permeate this thing even by his standards) and Chester brings the generalized anger against his generalized foes harder on “Keys to the Kingdom” and “A Line in the Sand” than he has since imploring our silence on “One Step Closer”. But at the end of the day, Linkin Park just ends up proving once again that they write one hell of an above average mainstream song.
Linkin Park has never improved upon the songwriting skill they had on Hybrid Theory and they probably won’t. Here’s the kicker though, they haven’t gotten any worse either. So we see it again, the band falling into the same songwriting pitfalls (structurally identical to everything they’ve ever put out) that have plagued them ever since Meteora. Seriously, take out the Rakim verse on “Guilty All the Same” and tell me it’s not a slightly more guitar complex “No More Sorrow”. If you remove half the riffs out of “Until It’s Gone” and replace with them with synths it could fit on Living Things
without a second thought. Sure, you can make the case for the bands improvement at the actual “playing” of their instruments (Rob Bourden’s drumming steals a large portion of the accolades I’d give out) but does complexity and difficultly of the task really make it that much more artistically relevant? It’s easy to get all caught up in Linkin Park playing heavy shi
t again, but that by itself can't mean we're getting something any less derivative than what we’ve received the past 10 years. As I said, fifteen year old me is ecstatic with the direction Linkin Park took here and they sure do it well given the number of years that have gone by, but you’ve got to keep it in perspective. Simply guitars and anger alone do not a classic record make.