Linkin Park
A Thousand Suns



by Dave de Sylvia EMERITUS
September 6th, 2010 | 2526 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An extremely well-crafted rock album from a band whose (self-directed) anger is, for once, well placed.

A Thousand Suns isn’t quite the return to the magic of debut album Hybrid Theory, as it has been billed in some quarters, but neither is it a straight re-enactment of the turgid attempt at a stadium-filler that was 2007’s Minutes to Midnight.

Producer (or, more accurately, Executive Producer) Rick Rubin has been retained from the previous album, as has been the general tendency towards melody rather than harsh vocals and distorted guitars, but in many other senses it’s a more true representation of the group’s origins: meshing heavy rock with old school hip hop in the tradition of Rage Against the Machine and (briefly) Public Enemy. Indeed, the revolutionary political posturing that Rage perfected almost two decades ago is briefly replicated on a couple of tracks here – explicitly so on pre-release track ‘Wretches and Kings,’ on which a speech sample inspires us to rebel against our role in “the machine.”

For the most part, A Thousand Suns is nothing more or less than a return to form for the California six-piece. ‘Burning of the Skies’ sees lead singer Chester Bennington wallow in the territory that best suits him, self-pity, as he sings: “I’m swimming in the smoke / Of bridges I have burned / So don’t apologise / I’m losing what I don’t deserve.” By contrast, rapper Mike Shinoda shows his best side early on too, rapping on ‘When They Come For Me’ that: “I’m not a robot / I’m not a monkey / I will not dance even if the beat is funky.” There’s no common thread as such, just two sides of the same coin: Chester, the sensitive, persecuted soul and Mike, the abrasive front for the same feelings.

Musically, A Thousand Suns is more intricately put together than any of the band’s previous releases, even the ultimately superior Hybrid Theory. ‘When They Come For Me’ sees the band incorporate Eastern influences, with a bassy acoustic drum beat and a fluid, Indian-sounding vocal line underpinning the rapped chorus. ‘Waiting for the End’ is a throwback to the ‘90s, landing somewhere between the reggae stylings of 311 and bubblegum rap group Sugar Ray, while the enigmatic ‘Wretches and Kings’ boasts an unmistakable dub influence.

Most intriguing of all, however, is perhaps the most straightforward piece on the entire record. ‘Robot Boy’ is the simplest composition on the record, and probably the most affecting, but I’m loath to actually describe it, because ‘Robot Boy’ is about as close to boyband territory as heavy metal will ever get. The tight harmonised vocal melody falls somewhere between East 17 and Enrique Iglesias (all the Es): the former because it’s so casually laid-back and the latter because it fades out with ‘Journada del Muerto’ (Journey of the Dead), a Spanish-language version of the main melody.

‘Iridescent’ is a straight singing duet that sees Shinoda and Bennington alternately share and trade lines, while the relatively mundane arrangement comes close to emulating the bargain basement-U2 feel of the last record. Delay-soaked guitar and keys loom large before giving way to a distorted lead and gang vocals that are reminiscent of the Killers’ ‘All these Things that I’ve Done’ – a little hackneyed at this stage, but nevertheless well-executed. Lead single ‘The Catalyst’ recalls Sing the Sorrow-era AFI with aggressive gang vocals and creeping electronics, while closer ‘The Messenger’ is an overproduced attempt to emulate an acoustic Tom Gabel track.

All in all, A Thousand Suns is a dramatic and welcome turnaround in fortune for a band that were destined for obscurity after getting it so badly, badly wrong on their last record. Granted, they’ve always maintained a steady level of popularity, but in musical terms they had become a non-entity. Whether Rubin held faith in them, or they kept faith in Rubin, or both, the marriage has finally begun to reap dividends and, though imperfect, A Thousand Suns is an extremely well-crafted rock album from a band whose (self-directed) anger is, for once, well placed.

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user ratings (2802)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Observer EMERITUS (1.5)
    Rest in peace...

    Irving EMERITUS (4)
    The essence of a 2000-year old sacred Hindu scripture...presented in nu-metal form....

    neekafat CONTRIBUTOR (5)
    “Once you got the Theory of how the thing works, everybody wants the next thing to be ju...

    Simon K. STAFF (4)
    A ballsy change of sound that elevates the band to a new creative level....

  • Nick Mongiardo (4)
    "I am not the fortune and the fame nor the same person telling you to forfeit the game"...

    Aeri (4)
    "We were not making an album. For months, we'd been destroying and rebuilding our band."...

    FCY (3)
    Linkin Park are on a pill that's tough to swallow....

    DropTune (4)
    Although controversial, A Thousand Suns offers the contemplative side of Linkin Park like ...

  • AtavanHalen (3.5)
    Several steps closer to the edge, Linkin Park jump off into the unknown....

    Herbie Chrost (5)
    "The hardest part of ending is starting again"...

    Emson652 (4)
    "It seems ugly, but it could get worse, 'Cause even a blueprint is a gift and a curse. 'Ca...

    Cheesewireism (4.5)
    Linkin Park has undertaken a major step forward in their career, from the va...

  • wyankeif1337 (3)
    Is it Hybrid Theory 3? No. Is it worth listening to? If you’re willing to overlook fact ...

    CasualListen (4)
    This is the band's first concept album. Musically, it is still not superior to the band's...

    TheMushuPork (4)
    Linkin Park gets experimental, and goes into unexplored territory. The result? An album th...

    NapalmDe4th (1.5)
    Linkin Park's most experimental album yet ends up proving just how incompetent the band is...

  • Chevy182 (2)
    Some potential found but that doesn’t justify this album, because of the sequence or mes...

    AndrewLawson (2)
    Linkin Park has lost all of their original appeal in favor of a boring droning, electronic...

    rekrdskratcher (2.5)
    A funeral for Hybrid Theory/Meteora-era Linkin Park that began with Minutes to Midnight en...

    NickDuffy (5)
    An album that will have your emotions change as every track passes....

  • MrTrashyTheTrashCan (1)
    "A Thousand Suns" is a wreck from the beginning to the end. Like the album's song "Waiting...

    Strider (4)

    mmawilkinson82 (5)
    A stunning album that takes Linkin Park in a whole new direction and really shows off the ...

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 7th 2010


omg. .... so this is good?

September 7th 2010


seriously if there's any traces of Faith No More here I'd be really, really surprised

edit: haha now the review's edited and i look stupid

September 7th 2010


Rick Rubin is on this? I love that guy.

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

What? I'm suprised to see such a high rating. I need to hear this....

September 7th 2010


inspires us rebel against our role in “the machine.”

inspires us to rebel *

good review, but LP aren't that good, in my opinion, but I've listened to all of their albums, so I might as well pick this one up too.

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

"Wretches and Kings" had me curious, but this review has me even more curious.

September 7th 2010


what is this?!

edit: enrique reference is always a plus btw

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 1.5

if this is truly a throwback to hybrid theory, i will check it out

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

I'm still suprised to see such a high rating, is this really THAT much better than Minutes to Midnight?

September 7th 2010


That song with the raggae up on the news section was the single worst thing I've heard all year, so you might excuse my skepticism.

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 1.5

Good album, i don't believe it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 7th 2010


That album art is pretty bad, lol. I'm with Alex on this one, the song I heard from this didn't do much to hinder my opinion of the band.

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 2.5

did this leak or something? If it did id like a link.

September 7th 2010



September 7th 2010


I'm content with not ever knowing what this sounds like.

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 2.5

Surprised at the high rating, but there is no way this is as good as hybrid or meteora. I'll actually

give this a listen unlike minutes to midnight. Also, sounds like bailar will love Robot Boy.

September 7th 2010


The biggest band noone gives a fuck about.

September 7th 2010


Well if MTV says it...

Staff Reviewer
September 7th 2010


it says the page isnt found :[

Just remove the < a > at the end of the link when it shows up in the address bar

Or what Dave said

September 7th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Sweet joke review. Had me there for a minute.

But Robot Boy sounds exactly like Alchemy Index era Thrice.

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