Review Summary: Taking steps forward.
The future of Linkin Park, one of the most commercially successful modern alternative rock acts of the last two decades, has been the subject of plenty of scrutiny in recent months, following the unexpected suicide of long term frontman and lead vocalist, Chester Bennington.
Since July 20th, the band initially maintained a relatively tentative relationship with fans, responding to messages of comfort with gratitude, yet keeping things hesitantly close to the chest while the uncertainty towards the bands future hung heavily in the air. The critically acclaimed live, Hollywood Bowl "And Friends" show, both represented the first of many hard steps forward to moving on, while also allowing the band the chance to open their hearts to offer as much love and appreciation as possible in response to a shared grief. And the response to this worldwide shared grief has been nothing short of admirable; still raw from similar example of tragedy, the loss of Chris Cornell, fans and artists alike have displayed an unrelenting show of support towards the band, and the heavy realisation that in regards to mental health, something finally needs to change.
Shinoda's position in the band has historically always been to be the centre, or the "glue" as he is sometimes affectionately referred to, that keeps the band together and moving forwards. That being said, his current position to helm Linkin Park and direct the band's next move has clearly been one of personal uncertainty; despite the recent decision to release tribute live album, One More Light Live
, Shinoda's decision to step back from the band, and pursue the appropriately titled Post Traumatic
as a solo release, potentially displays a greater level of unrest in the band's future than has been recently assumed.
Musically, Post Traumatic
begins things tentatively; low-key synth driven track, 'Place To Start', gently manoeuvres an uncertain lyrical reflection on facing the unknowing beyond, before the track abruptly shifts into a hauntingly poignant assortment of voicemail messages, left in support for Shinoda in the face of Bennington's death.
Akin to much of One More Light
's soft rock, r&b-heavy style, middle act, 'Over Again', continues much of the same reflection. Recalling the aftermath in a mixture of horrified desperation, to enraged determination, lyrically the track bluntly navigates the confused mess of trying to move on from such a suffocating grief, while also touching on the emotional investment into finally performing as a group again for the "And Friends" show, albeit one member forever short. The track ultimately represents much of an unspoken catharsis for Shinoda, also bitterly lashing out towards doubts cast on Shinoda himself, and the band's future;
"And everybody that I talk to is like "wow", must be really hard to figure what to do now.
Well thank you genius - you think it'll be a challenge
Only my life's work, hanging in the ***ing balance."
Ending Post Traumatic
, 'Watching As I Fall' still carries much of the same bitterness, yet the track triumphantly displays one of Shinoda's best performances on record since the A Thousand Suns
era; seemingly reintroducing himself in the face of such a draining emotional recovery, Shinoda's flow is massively improved following a generally lacklustre performance on the band's previous effort, One More Light
. Musically, 'Watching As I Fall' easily stands as the most interesting track of the EP, the hip-hop and bass-drenched backbone finally ending in a gorgeous synth-laden guitar solo.
While the existence of Post Traumatic
is somewhat questionable in regards to it's relation to the band's future, the appearance of new material, solo or not, should offer some form of relief to fans unsure of where the band is looking to go. The obvious lack of appearance of previously performed unreleased track, 'Looking For An Answer', suggests that under the surface plenty more work is to be done before the band finally moves forward, before releasing anything officially under the Linkin Park banner. The question of whether or not a replacement lead vocalist should be considered still hangs ominously in the air, but if Shinoda has proven anything, Post Traumatic
reinforces that the "glue" is still holding strong.