Review Summary: A welcome change in direction that the band so desperately needed.
Over the course of browsing this site, every once in a while there would be someone claiming Linkin Park to be the “worst band ever.” Admittedly, they can be quite bad, but there is no way in hell that the band deserves this outlandishly hyperbolic title. The band simply made nu metal, a genre that can be quite jarring to some, quite accessible and dare I say it, fun to listen to. Sure, they made an even more jarring shift by changing to a sudden electronic sound, but now Linkin Park have decided to take matters into their own hands and produce their own album. This time, they take their sound back to their roots, but not back to a nu metal sound. The sound has been tweaked quite a bit and it results in a surprisingly consistent rock album with characteristics of raw punk rock. Rest assured, it’s quite likely that any long time Linkin Park fan will love The Hunting Party
simply due to the fact that they have gone heavy again.
It may be true how they have gone heavy again, but The Hunting Party
is certainly not a rehash of Hybrid Theory
by any means. Instead of placing a great emphasis on creating a mainstream appeal with infectiously catchy choruses, the latest outing in Linkin Park’s discography places more of an emphasis on the band’s energy. It’s safe to say that their guitar work is more apparent this time around and Rob Bourdon really gets a chance to consistently shine on this record like he never has before. Album opener, “Keys to the Kingdom,” best shows the band’s newfound energy the best with punchy guitar work, Chester’s typically great screams and Rob’s exceptional punk rock rhythms. The consistency easily carries over into “All or Nothing, but this time it showcases some of the band’s most engaging guitar work to date and the songs is aided by a great performance by Page Hamilton in the chorus.
The band’s instrumentation has definitely improved, but their songwriting has also shown plenty of improvement too. Even though “Guilty All the Same” showcases a great yet extremely forced rap verse from the legendary Rakim, the song as a whole delivers in intensity and features the absolute best guitar work to date from the band in the last twenty seconds. Much like “Guilty All the Same,” the longer tracks of the album such as “Mark the Graves” and “A Line in the Sand” displays how far the band has come in terms of song writing quality. “A Line in the Sand” serves as the epic closer with engaging vocal chemistry between Chester and Mike as well as swell instrumentation. Meanwhile, “Mark the Graves” shows Chester belting out his best pipes he has to offer on The Hunting Party
. Well these two tracks prove to have the most emotional depth of the album, “War” and “Rebellion” a typically angry Linkin Park and it truly satisfies despite nearly abysmal lyrics.
In fact, the lyrics quickly become a gigantic problem of this record from the start. Mike has said before that there are different things that make a man in his late thirties angry, but it’s hilariously strange how the delivery of this anger happens to be no different or any more complex than on Hybrid Theory
. Let’s face it: lyrics have never been the band’s strength, but sadly the listener will see no signs of improvement here. Take “Until it’s Gone” for example: the epic 30 Seconds to Mars style music is admirable and something different for the band, but Chester’s lyrics are nothing more than hilarious and almost acts as a parody of the band’s lyrics as a whole. Thankfully, most of the intense music saves The Hunting Party
from being a disaster that it easily could have been.
Despite lyrics that are undeniably horrible, The Hunting Party
proves to be some of Linkin Park’s best work to date. Though they have a long way to go before they become masterful musicians, their overall musicianship and chemistry as a band without a doubt improved with this new change in direction. They successfully crafted a fun, engaging and catchy listen by going back to their roots without creating another Hybrid Theory
. This is certainly a big step in the right direction for Linkin Park and one could hope that they combine their new style with the ambition of A Thousand Suns
for their next record.