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Linkin Park have always been the good guys of the commercial rock scene. Their success, in most part, attributed to an honest attitude devoid of any overt bravado or narcissistic collective egos. However, while the respect they have created over the years might save the band from ridicule, it does not excuse what is an unmoving listen on album four, ‘A Thousand Suns’.
The old saying ‘right place at the right time’ seems most applicable when applied to the Californian sextet. The band certainly cashed in on the success the rap, rock, and electronic metal crossover enjoyed in the early twenty first century. Let’s face it, ‘Hybrid Theory’ was a permanent staple in any twelve or thirteen year old boys playlist circa 2000.
Fast forward to 2010 and the band against a backdrop of condescension and mockery thrown the way of similar acts, has remained relevant. While today if the names ‘Korn’ or ‘Limp Bizkit’ are uttered in musical terms it is usually met with a tired sigh or awkward reflection, Linkin Park have seemingly bucked the trend and remained credible enough to justify their continual success. Yes, their sound follows a typical musical blueprint and structure, but at least there is some individuality and genuine attempts at offering something new, unlike many of their peers. However, all this praise does nothing to repair ‘A Thousand Suns’ from what one can only describe as a frustrating affair.
Maybe we are missing something but ‘A Thousand Suns’ is just a strange listen. Innovation, progression and evolution of a bands sound should be welcomed but not if it is at the expense of said group’s traditional stylings. Studio album four is an odd ball composite of strong electronic samples, mellow rhythms and angst ridden rock. Giving credit where credits due, this offering is well-crafted but that’s where the positives end. There is nothing memorable or endearing in this instance. All songs seemingly blur into one another, with the metronome staying in the same range throughout. You keep hoping the next song will change things up a bit but by half way through even the eternal optimist realises that it just not going to happen.
It seems the Jay Z collaboration completed a few years back has filtered through in a profound and significant way. Those who like the rock elements of Linkin Park may as well not bother pressing play. There is certainly nothing reminiscent of ‘Faint’, ‘One Step Closer’ or ‘Bleed it Out’ here. It is a same tempo, moody release that contains nothing even close to a stadium rock anthem. In fact, ‘A Thousand Suns’ is bet described as an electronic, hip hop album with only the slightest hint of rock.
Lead single ‘The Catalyst’ is the best preview and prominent track on this offering. Bluntly speaking, if you like this song then ‘A Thousand Suns’ will provide an enjoyable listen but conversely if it leaves you scratching your head then no other tracks will alleviate your initial response, with the album in a similar tone. The majority of songs are just drawn out interludes, with ‘Wisdom, Justice and Love’ the pick of the bunch.
Linkin Park are justified in their longevity and are equally competent in their musical abilities. Nevertheless, these admirable qualities do not save ‘A Thousand Suns’ from redemption. In fact, it makes it more provoking, because we know that Linkin Park are a group of astute and committed musicians. This isn’t a band that is complacent or going through the motions because album number four is very purposeful. Unfortunately, what this artistic focus results in is an album that is indifferent to the point that it is almost disheartening.
1. The Requiem
2. The Radiance
3. Burning In the Skies
4. Empty Spaces
5. When They Come To Me
6. Robot Boy
7. Jornada Del Muerto
8. Waiting for the End
10. Wretches and Kings
11. Wisdom, Justice and Love
14. The Catalyst
15. The Messenger