ALBUM REVIEW: Linkin Park – “The Hunting Party”
Linkin Park – The Hunting Party
Let us get the obvious out the way. I’m a fan of Linkin Park. There, I said it. Its out there in the world for all to know. I have my guilty pleasure music; late 90’s carryovers that I still enjoy in the privacy of my car, windows up of course, like Staind, Limp Bizkit, Disturbed, Lenny Kravitz — the stuff that most people would not admit to enjoying in public. I’ve heard folks lumping LP in with Nickelback and fake-ass rock bands of that kind.
First, they have managed to stay alive since 2000, surviving the death of nu-metal, or rap-rock, or hardcore, or whatever you tend to call it. A great many of the bands that hatched during this period have not lasted. See also: Powerman 5000. See also: Adema. See also: Orgy (although Orgy has released two fairly good singles in the past year or so and, in Adema‘s defense, they’ve spent a good deal of time playing as Korn‘s back up musicians on stage. They were the people in creepy-ass animal masks on tour after the departure of Korn’s drummer, Head). Second, musically, one has to admit that they have changed their sound, experimented, and grown up over the years. I’ve heard some criticize them further by saying that Linkin Park merely copies the bandwagon styles on the radio waves. I strongly disagree with that regurgitated statement. While of late they have been less innovative, they are certainly not ripping off anyone else out there that I’ve listened to. Last, from my point of view they have kept the things that work while staying true to themselves as a band. They have continually tried out new sounds, and have kept the habit of included contributing artists that surprise listeners.
This new record, The Hunting Party is a sharp breath of hot, humid, smack-your-face rock music. Are the lyrics likely to change someone’s life? Probably not. But does it sound great at full volume? Hell yeah it does. Linkin Park’s previous album, Living Things (2012), was completely different from A Thousand Suns (2010), which was totally separate from Minutes to Midnight (2008). Each has its own vibe and its own sound. Sure, its heavier, screaming rock, and much of the music they make sounds alike to those that don’t dig it — similarly to how everything from Lamb of God sounds the same to me — because I don’t enjoy listening to it.
The Hunting Party was inspired by artists that the members of Linkin Park jammed to as young men. The influences of other, older bands are clearly evident. This album kicks off with “Keys to the Kingdom,” a fast intro. The guitar work is much more rapid than the band usually rolls with, and Chester sings faster and louder as well, with more intensity than I’ve heard from him in while. “All for Nothing” features Page Hamilton of Helmet in a slow, grinding, distorted guitar jam. It’s reminiscent of late ’90s alt-rock, with a little added shouting. “Guilty All the Same,” follows, featuring rapper, Rakim. The following track, “The Summoning,” is 60 seconds of industrial filler, beginning atmospheric and calming and finishing grimy and disharmonious.
“War” is unlike basically everything this group has put out and is in the running to be my favorite song of the month. It’s fast, loud, heavy and totally righteous. The proceeding track, however, “Wasteland,” didn’t really blow me away lyrically or musically. “Until It’s Gone” is another song that I wasn’t crazy about. The lyrics are trite and there is neither a message, nor a story. That somewhat bugs me. Although, I suppose it may be surmised that at least one member of the band was heavily influenced by music of that kind as a young person. I list “Rebellion” as very-not-bad. “Mark the Graves” is another solid song; it’s a good guitar-rock song, emphasizing more on that than on lyrics, which frankly were just a little boring. “Drawbar” is another instrumental filler track guest starring Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against the Machine. Second to last is “Final Masquerade.” I have nothing positive to say about this song. They probably should have kept this as a B-Side or deleted it all together. The Hunting Party finishes strong with “A Line in the Sand.” This one is radio-single-worthy, although I somewhat hope it doesn’t hit the airwaves so I may continue to enjoy it.
All in all this is a solid addition to Linkin Park’s collection of albums. Its not the best thing I’ve ever heard, but I’ve been enjoying it for a while, so its certainly not lousy or cheap, either. If we ran TuffGnarl.com on a letter grade scale, I’d give it a B-, but since we run on stars, and it’s simply not a four star album; I gave it three. The production value is there. Musically, the influence of other artists is clearly heard, and that is deliberate. This is said to be the album that Linkin Park might have created had they never made Hybrid Theory. It has been referred to as a “prequel” album, basically just saying that were getting back to their roots and making some music which reminded them of being younger musicians. Perhaps that’s a way of saying that they’ve run out of steam, but I doubt it. Mike Shinoda is constantly working and Chester Bennington is touring currently as the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots (he still maintains that he is 100% committed to both bands). Somehow they managed to find time to draw up and produce another album within 2 years of the last. Right-fucking-on. I’m impressed with Linkin Park’s work ethic if nothing else.
My Standout Tracks: “War.” This song is simply awesome. It made me want to jump through a plate glass door and shoot a bunch of robot-alien-cowboy-terrorists. “Keys to the Kingdom” is a great opening track. Another that makes me wish for a firefight or a dinosaur hunt or something else that’s totally-heavy-metal-righteous. My last is “A Line in the Sand.” Typically, this group has a mellow ballad to close out their albums. This is happily not that. It’s dropkick out the front door instead of a nice kiss goodbye, just like rock and roll ought to be.
Video for “Until It’s Gone”
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