Review Summary: What happens when Linkin Park tries to reinvigorate their sound by letting all their previous albums melt together in the sun.
Linkin Park has spent the past ten years trying to distance themselves from their massive debut Hybrid Theory
. Now, Hybrid Theory
is very much a product of its time, and anyone who claims otherwise is a lunatic. It was a perfect accessible representation of nu-metal, which ruled the landscape so entirely that lesser bands like Taproot and Adema were going Gold. Next came Meteora
, which was little more than Hybrid Theory 2.0
. It seems that Linkin Park realized that because after Meteora
, they chose to attempt blazing a different path. It all started with Minutes To Midnight
, which showed the band trying to slow down and add a little brevity. There was a problem with that; the problem being that Linkin Park has never really possessed the songwriting talent to pull that off. Their first two albums succeeded because of their unrelenting energy and a sense of enjoyment (the angsty lyrics at a time when angst was printing money didn’t hurt.) There is no faulting Linkin Park for trying to grow up, but the band eventually lost track of how to craft a good song. Their next two albums had albums sales accompanying the waning interest in the band. Linkin Park recently decided that possibly the best option would be to try to recapture the energy they had when they were younger.
Recapturing the energy of one’s younger, hungrier self is always a fool’s errand. It is hard to feel as desperate to make it with million dollar houses and insane bank accounts. The Hunting Party
is exactly that folly. Like Metallica with Death Magnetic
, the pieces are seemingly there for a callback to glory days, but the execution isn’t there. The opening track “Keys To The Kingdom” is exactly that problem. Seemingly raw and heavy on the surface, it all feels hollow. The worst offender is Chester Bennington; the man is 38 and screaming about “I’m ***ing up everything I see”. Mike Shinoda is almost as bad. His diminished presence vocally in previous years has clearly affected how much thought he puts into his lyrics. Even if pure energy was enough to sate fans of Hybrid Theory
, Linkin Park too often shies away from that balls-out feeling that made songs like “Faint” so successful and popular. It is almost like they aren’t confident enough in their faster tempos, and fall back on the mid tempo mistakes (both from song to song and in the middle of tracks like “Wasteland”.)
There are still a couple highlights, however. “War” shows Linkin Park trying their damndest to sound like a punk band, something they largely succeed at, and “Mark The Graves” is a song that works better than anything else at toeing the line between the two faces they’ve shown over the years. Chester Bennington’s vocals about as good as he has ever been here, that being mostly competent with at least falter or missed note per song. The band behind Chester is spotty and frequently overshadowed, with the main highlight and only constant positive presence being the drumming of Rob Bourdon.
Overall, Linkin Park put forth a valiant effort to try and steal back some of their youth and vitality, however too much quite simply does not work. The attempt to try and balance the two disparate bands that they’ve been creates a disjointed listen. The Hunting Party
is clearly a step in the right direction for a band that had lost something over the years, but when they had very little choice but to go up, it doesn’t instill a ton of confidence. If Linkin Park had possibly tried a more mature approach, then more credit would be given their way, but at the end of the day trying to mash together one outdated approach with another does not birth innovation. Linkin Park may eventually prove everyone wrong, but the window is closing fast, and trying to prop it open with Hybrid Theory
riffs won’t work.