Released June 2014
Right. Let’s get this over with shall we? Regular readers will remember what happened the last time I reviewed a Linkin Park album. Despite my longstanding love of the band, their 5th studio album evoked a sense of such utter hatred in me that it took me three weeks to listen to The Hunting Party, because, quite honestly, I couldn’t bear the thought of them having released something that godawful again and every bit of promo I saw was Chester talking about how this time they’d “done something different“. Given last time they did that I had to break out the brain bleach, I was not optimistic.
Anyway, the album kicks off with The Keys to The Kingdom and ……. it’s alright. You’ve got Chester screaming, some heavy guitars, fantastic drum beats and then Mike does his rapping thing and loads of synthy synthy stuff going on and yeah, it’s an interesting track that made me think ‘ok, maybe this won’t be so bad after all‘. Then the album moves (via some weird little soundclip things) to All for Nothing and again, it’s an alright track. It’s quite catchy and elicits a head sway, and by the time I was on my third listen I was sort of singing along. It’s not a fantastically strong track – there’s a very clear delineation on the album between tracks that are Singles and everything else, but it’s definitely listenable.
Then we have the first big single from the album Guilty All The Same. It’s a catchy track with riffs a plenty, rapping from someone called Rakim and it’s track that is worthy of a goth/nu-metal club night. It’s again an alright track.
But hold on a minute. I’m three tracks into an album and so far the best description I can come up with is ‘yeah it’s alright‘? Where’s my ANGRY Linkin Park? Where’s the perfect coalescence of agony and rage that made Hybrid Theory and Meteora such epically brilliant albums?
10 seconds later my question is sort of answered by War. Which has a bit of old school Chester screaming, but it seems a bit forced really. As if he’s not really angry any more and is just trying to remember what it felt like. The guitars however are excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed them. It’s another track that would be alright for a club night. From War we move onto Wastelands which is rather mundane and repetitive, and then it’s time for Until It’s Gone, the second single on the album
Until It’s Gone is again, a fairly alright, track. There’s nothing WRONG with it, there’s just nothing special about it. There’s some interesting synth going on and some generically heavy guitar and it’s…… JUST SO BORING.
I’m bored. Halfway through this album – the exact half point in fact and I am SO BORED I could chew my own foot off for the entertainment factor. This is not an album to put on for a reason, this is an album to put on because silence is unbearable and you want to fill it with something that isn’t too engaging or oppressive. Because of this very quality however, it’s going to be wildly successful and annoying people who don’t like Rock or Metal will listen to it and be all ‘oh yah, Linkin Park, love them‘ and then stare at you blankly when you play Crawling.
Forgive me my Nu-Metal Hipsterism, but my point is proven by the boring pop-ishness of Rebellion and then Mark The Graves, which is just pure self indulgent creative wankery. There are lengthy instrumental sections that are… well… guitar wankery, and then it’s followed up by Drawbar which is like listening to James Blunt with a more exciting drum line and no vocals and then there’s Final Masquerade which is all poppy upbeats and heartfelt lyrics and emphatic guitars and just………. *vom*
Finally, the album draws to a close with six and a half minutes of A Line In The Sand and with that Linkin Park‘s opus to mundanity ends.
In summary, there are four listenable tracks on this album, three of which I wouldn’t object to hearing at a club night as a bit of filler between sets and the rest of it is a perfectly mundane and boring pop-rock album. I’ll be honest, if this is the first Linkin Park album you’ve ever heard and you don’t mind poppy rock with synths then you’ll probably like it. If you liked Linkin Park in 1999 you probably won’t. I’m going to give it 2 stars because there’s nothing actually wrong with it and I wasn’t mentally scarred by listening to it, but it won’t be going in my personal music collection.