Review Summary: An album that has some promise is not generally fulfilled by the new sound, new style & overall weaknesses of one of the 21st Centuries Most Recognized Bands.
Linkin Park. A name synonymous with music that EVERYONE
has heard of. A band that shot Nu Metal & Rap Rock to dizzying heights it never truly thought it would reach. 7 Years after Hybrid Theory left an impressive fingerprint on charts around the world, & 4 years after Meteora dominated the Modern Rock Charts & put a new stamp of authority on the genre they were in during it’s slow demise… they came out of the shadows with their 3rd album, Minutes To Midnight. An album that divided critics & Linkin Park fans everywhere due to the sudden difference from their previous material, one question had been burning in my mind leading up to this review:
“Does This Change Effect Their Music & Themselves As A Band Enough That They Can’t Get Back From Any Damage It May Have Caused""
The answer, is a mixture of yes & no.
A few significant changes can be found in Minutes To Midnight: Chester Bennington sings more than he screams, Mike Shinoda & Mr. Joe Hahn are virtually non existent apart from a few songs, & their sound has morphed dramatically from Rap Rock into Alternative Rock, which took me by surprise upon hearing What I’ve Done for the first time over 2 years ago. One thing these changes shows to me is that they at least show that they can explore different styles, which to be honest some bands don’t do, they often decide to play it safe & stick to their genre guns. The lack of Shinoda on the album gives Bennington a chance to show off his true singing ability, with soaring, soft vocals ascending their quiet & calm songs beautifully but at times he still reverts back to his old roots with the band by letting out the odd scream or two every now & again. Shinoda in his own right, shows what he can do when he is alone at the mic, but it’s still Rap based, which in turn takes the influence of change with him down a peg, although he does show that his voice has a small bit of potential, but not much in terms of pitch & emotion... it just lacked a punch ANY
vocalist needs to stand out. The rest of the group still perform quite simplistic musical arrangements, crunching riffs, soft arpeggios quiet drum beats remaining a norm & a guitar solo & string arrangements becoming a first for them, all in all they don’t show much improvement from anything else they’ve done. Lyrically, this band is still angst fuelled at times but the album has a bit of emotion & heart, but once again pointing towards the softer songs on the album to find it. Sometimes, it can actually be hard to figure out the lyrics actually mean, which for me isn’t a good thing as I take the lyrics as seriously as the music. Overall the band may have changed their sound considerably, but not enough in terms of overall change.
Meteora started off with a short instrumental piece (Foreword), they continue this (what would soon become trend if it happens on their next album) with Wake
. It’s quiet, & has obvious signs of Joes Hahn’s handy work on the keyboard (I hope) & has a simple chord riff gliding through it’s soft texture like a hot knife through butter, it starts off the album pretty well & gives you a small idea of what may come.
Looking at Given Up
, Bleed It Out
& No More Sorrow
together has to be done, because there is one thing that these songs have in common, Angst. Chester screams in these songs & only these songs (Given Up having a 17-Second scream, which still blows my mind), although at times his vocals do sound a bit whiny which in turn can annoy you to an extent. The riffs are simplistic but seem to fit the songs well, however this show that the guitarists haven’t learnt of a word called Creativity, they just haven’t branched away from their usual tree & done something a bit different, which greatly explains why these songs do sound a bit lame after some listens. These songs however do somehow remain true to the albums that came before them, but if you are a long time fan then you will end up disappointed with this being the only nostalgic pieces left of what the band were on here.
Shadow Of The Day
& Leave Out All The Rest
are two songs that show off the emotional & stripped side of the band with fuelled lyrics that can touch your heart & leave you satisfied. Chester’s voice just makes me realize he isn’t just a one trick pony singer who just screams like many think (although some moments on Meteora confirm that). They are made with echoing, simple guitar riffs coming off a tapping drum beat that sets the mood nicely, they are the two best songs (along with one other song) on the album, sure they may not be the band at their full, uncaged potential but this does at least show they can pull this stuff off well & keep it good.
What I’ve Done
has become the song all newbie’s associate with the band now (taking that title away from Numb & In The End), after the disastrous amount of overplaying on Music Channels & Radio Stations around the world. One thing that can be said… the subject of the song is easy to see & depending on the person can identify with. Forgiving the world for bad things you did in the past… I know I have that’s for sure. It’s guitar line is defiantly one of the simplest in the whole world of music that I know of, in fact it’s just a very simplistic chord that a beginner could probably play, because it is just that damn simple (referring back to the lack of creativity mentioned earlier), but Chester’s singing does make up for the song lacking with his whining voice being annoying but making the lyrics stand in the mess that became the biggest single released by the band.
Hands Held High
& In Between
are Mike Shinoda’s two vocal pieces, one being the former is rap based, the latter is a simply sung song. Hands Held High has another simple guitar “riff” (Do these guys ever learn") along with a marching drumbeat to resemble a military situation, which is very well found in the lyrics. The chorus is not needed but the song would be quite different without it. Amen is a word that means a lot to some; in a song that mentions suicide bombs… it could be wishing prayers to those who perished in them over the durations of the last decade. Who knows" That’s up to you to figure out. In Between just has Shinoda singing, well if you could call it singing… or even speaking for that matter he has no change in his pitch or tone practically throughout the entire song (just like he would be speaking), which does make it drone on & leave you bored. I doesn’t show him as a very productive vocalist… shining him a productive light is going to be difficult if we’re ever going get used to seeing him sing outside his usual rap persona, but time will tell, if he continues he may actually learn how to sing & alternate what he sings to make songs like this a bit more… exciting.
& In Pieces
are two songs that are very much alike they have a similar tone (regarding Chester’s singing) & have profound lyrics that have a melancholic effect. Although In Pieces has something which only some songs have had brief glimpses of… which is a guitar solo that actually states that the guitarists have some talent outside of simple riffs (sure it took 3 albums & 11 songs in to show it, but cut them some slack, they did it), however it is a simple solo in terms of solos, it doesn’t raise hairs, or show so much skill that it could blow your head off but it is there to show the speed of the song increasing slightly at that moment.
Here we come to the last song… the “other” best song on the album: These Little Things Give You Away
shows that the band can produce something of what I would call epic proportions. It starts off slow, building momentum with soft vocals, acoustic guitar & a turntable beat to let out probably the single most emotional bit on the album aside from the other 2 best songs, the guitar solo. It’s more like a November Rain-esque solo that leaves the hit notes to just echo off the speakers by itself, creating & flowing the emotion right out, but in doing so manages to evoke a very big sense of what their next album might lead too… it leaves an imprint that this type of thing could be a common thing for LP Album Number 4, however that doesn’t take away from how good this simple but provocative solo is.
You may be thinking right now, I have given this album quite a bit of praise, why is it rated lower than whatever you might be thinking I gave it. Well for starters although the Alternative sound is what got me into this album in the first place just lacks a punch, it just seems these guys want to become a band that’s music is sleep inducing because at times even I feel that way when listening to it, which just isn’t good. Shinoda stepping back proved to be a bit of a misfire for this album the songs he sang in weren’t terribly good & his ability was clearly shown… as a lame duck excuse for a “singer”. The song structures did feel like they took little time to conceive… not 2 years of work according to the band leading up to it. The band seems like they’re trying too hard, playing to the mainstream & they’re die-hards but more to the mainstream as the originality that swamped this band before seemed to vanish along with some of the bands creativity, which is a major step down for them.
An album that has some promise is not generally fulfilled by the new sound, new style & overall weaknesses of one of the 21st Centuries Most Recognized Bands.