A Linkin Park album that sounds nothing like their previous work. A Thousand Suns is a genre in itself. In a way , Linkin Park has tried to do what Radiohead did ten years back.
Perhaps,the best way to explain most of the sound of this album would be- A Linkin Park tribute band meets- Depeche Mode- meets U2 - jamming with Fort Minor, with a bit of dub and reggae thrown in here and there.
In many ways it is how Mike Shinoda puts it “ more experimental and more cutting edge”. The band wishes this album to be a tribute to the Hip Hop group Public enemy and being a concept album it deals with the issues like that of Nuclear Warfare........ very very cliché.
However having said that, don’t get your hopes too high. This album fails to make a mark of that kind, let alone leave a strong impression. In a world of big guns like Rage against the machine, Linkin Park comes of as a bunch of wannabe empty shells.
Recorded at the famous NRG recording studios in Los Angeles, the album seems devoid of Executive producer Rick Rubin’s magical touch. Infact, it doesn’t seem like he had any part to play at all.
The album begins with a vague hocus pocus ridden track called “The Requiem.” A piano melody here, pseudo auto tuned haunting female vocals thrown in there. It is not a track in it’s own right, it blends effortlessly in to the next track called ‘The Radiance’ . Nothing special.
The album continues with the track “Burning the skies”.
The title is misleading, in the beginning one half expects Enrique to belt out pop vocals. It’s not until the guitars kick in late into the song, that you actually start liking it. But unfortunately it doesn’t last long. This one would probably make a great Top 40 dance number if remixed right.
“Empty spaces” is useless filler with crickets chirping and the faint distant echo of a public speech coming out of loudspeakers at a rally.
Then comes “ When they come for me” . This track is one of the best on the album. The electro synth and saw combo takes you by surprise in the beginning, and later it gets better when the percussion kicks in. This track is a good mix of electro, tribal and rap, rock. If only the lyrics were better. Mike Shinoda’s verses seem amateurish and the vocals lack aggression. Towards the end Bennington comes in with a smooth rendering of the words “ Oh when they come for me”. With middle eastern sounding vocals thrown in as well, this lives true to the tag of ‘experimental’ . Word’s out that this was guitarist Brad’s idea. A job well done .
“Robot Boy” is the simplest track on the album. It starts with a piano melody and has a nice soft pop like feel to it. This is also however, the closest a rock band will come to being an all boy band.
“Jornada del Muerto” is only a minute long. No vocals, but somehow, I wish this was a full length song. The tune is catchy and feels good to the ears.
It blends in to the track called “ Waiting for the end” . At first this track comes as a shock. This track sounds absolutely NOTHING like Linkin Park. In the beginning you have a reggae like verse that gets your mood up and manages to sustain it through. Fans of Linkin Park’s old clichéd sound may not like this particular song.
For fans of Chester Bennington’s screaming, there’s ”Blackout” reminiscent of the tracks “Bleed it out” but this takes it to a higher level.
“Wretches and kings” is probably the most overrated track on the album. It’s the unique sounding bassline that stands out. Shinoda’s rapping leaves a lot to be desired.
“Iridescent” is underrated. Like most of the album it takes more than a few listens to like the sound.
The album continues with “Fall out “ which is another filler with auto tuned deep vocals that one can barely make out. It seems like a waste of time, energy and production time. One wonders afterwards, what that is doing there in the first place.
“The catalyst” is another track that stands out. Mike Shinoda continues with the lyrics from the first two tracks “ God bless us everyone/we’re broken people living under loaded guns/ It can’t be out matched/ can’t be out run/ “ Lead singer Chester Bennington continues with his signature loud vocals reeking with emotion. It’s a combination of the beat, the synth and scratches that keep it going. The breakdown however seems in the wrong place and is a bit disappointing in the beginning but it manages to recover in time.
The last track “ The messenger “ is a unique paradox. It’s very rare for one to hear acoustic steel string and piano melodies with loud screaming vocals. But somehow Chester Bennington manages to pull it off.
Over all , “ A Thousand Suns” is something new. There are instances in the album where (depending on your mood) it seems that the band has finally matured, and is finally breaking free from it’s clichéd songs drowning in self pity, and then there are instances where you can’t help but feel like it’s a drunken mistake.
The album would sound much better with a bit of more aggression, the lack of which makes it seem like just another mass marketed album designed to sell millions of copies, after which people would forget it existed.
Expect nothing like the older Linkin Park that you have grown up listening to and you might be pleasantly surprised. Else you just might end up feeling violated and disgusted. One needs to leave behind the past and soak in the sound as something absolutely brand new.
Either way, being an experimental concept album, it is definitely worth picking up from the store if you’re feeling the need to listen to something new.