As if there was every any doubt, this is Kaiju… This time I’m bringing you a review of Linkin Park’s ‘A Thosaund Suns’.
Like so many others I’ve barely bought a CD in the last eight or so years. The coming of the digital age has saved quite a lot of money for me. Even when I purchase a CD on the rare occasion, usually I pick it up pre-owned or heavily discounted. This brings me to Linkin Park. It just so happens that the first 2 CDs to ever win over my money at a brand new price were Hybrid Theory and Meteora. Over and over again I listened to those two fantastic, alternative rock albums. Not every song was perfect (Cure for the Itch and Session always get skipped on my CD player), but it did an amazing job and forever raised my bar for music. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said I listened to Faint (or a remix of it) once a day. In short, I’m a huge fan of LP’s work.
Later I bought Reanimation and Collision Course– both of which gained respectable playtime in my music library. I always appreciated Reanimation‘s stylized versions of some of my favorite Linkin Park songs. Collision Course was serviceable, but I didn’t find myself popping in the decidedly short CD too often. Then again, I’m not much of a Jay-Z fan, so that’s understandable.
Want to guess what I didn’t buy? Minutes To Midnight. Back in 2007 I was pumped for the new LP album. Well, that is until info started trickling out about. Certain phrases were getting thrown around that always worry long-time fans of a band. “A new direction”, “Needed to move on”, “Experimental”- and so-on. Now I wasn’t going to condemn the band for trying something new, but that certainly didn’t mean I was going to hop on board just on namesake. If LP wanted to do something different, they needed to earn my dollar instead of expecting me to just go along with it. Then, Minutes To Midnight released.
Oh the disappointment. You know how LP haters always point the finger at the screaming vocals, fast-paced songs, and highly-energized background as being the band’s failing point? Guess what? That’s what the majority of fans love about them. When an Linkin Park comes on, you want to crank up the volume and fill your room with it. Minutes To Midnight did not achieve this. MTM was done to appeal to non-LP fans with slower, softer tunes while remaining expectant of existing fans to just buy it. In total there is a single song from Minutes To Midnight that I enjoyed. Just one. That song? No More Sorrow. The only song on the entire album that captures the original LP feeling. MTM is a dark blemish on an otherwise shining record.
This brings us to Linkin Park’s latest foray into music- A Thousand Suns. After the disappointment of Minutes To Midnight, I essentially spent the last three years ignoring any news of Linkin Park’s new work. Don’t get me wrong- I still love their original style, but it was clear they wanted to do something else. Rather than take it personally and spread hate against the band, I simply let our paths separate. These days most of my attention has been on Finger Eleven, Korn, and Three Days Grace. Is A Thousand Suns what LP needs to draw back fans like myself?
The answer? A resounding… sort of. Popping in and listening to A Thousand Suns gives a clear indication of what happened with Linkin Park. After the mixed reaction to Minutes to Midnight, they decided to try to reach a happy medium. You’ll be hearing plenty of MTM’s slower, softer style- but you’ll also get more of the original style fans love so much. The ratio is a little unfair for Hybrid-Meteora fans, as we receive about 20% of the new releases. I’d give 15% of the album to a combination of the two styles- while the other 65% is pure Minutes To Midnight softness.
Does the overall mood of the CD impress? Believe it or not, I’d say yes. It might disappoint fans looking to pay full price for a return to Hybrid-Meteora glory, but those just wishing for something new in the original style, this’ll be appeasing. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to wishing for a larger percentage of Hybrid-Meteora songs, but it’s at least something. Much better than when you compare it to the one song we got in Minutes To Midnight– No More Sorrow.
On to the songs themselves. Although I would have to listen to them many more times to give a more descriptive interpretation- I know this would be pointless. Every fan will have their own analysis of the songs and will debate with any that disagrees endlessly. I’ll be giving a general overview of my perspective.
My first time listening, three songs really jumped out at me. Blackout, The Catalyst, Iridescent all hit a nice, old LP note. Each embodies that ‘turn up the volume and enjoy it’ sensation. I could have envisioned any falling in the later tracks of Meteora. It’s a relief to hear, honestly.
Two songs on the album in particular seem to try to forge yet another identity for the band- Wretches and Kings, Robot Boy. Both embody the more High-Voltage style of the band while craving out this new style I otherwise haven’t seen for the group. There’s an abundance of electronic effects and surrealist features within the pair. Refreshing and certainly easier to accept than MTM softness.
Without a doubt there’s the MTM style that Linkin Park seems to be so enthralled with these days. Waiting For The End, Messenger, Fallout, and Journey of a Deadman all come across as that ‘trying to win up new fans’, different style of music. I didn’t find myself dislike them as much as some of the bland tracks on MTM, but that’s not saying much.
Overall, I’d say A Thousand Suns is more faithful to LP’s roots than Minutes To Midnight, but is that enough? Are distanced fans going to be willing to pick up an album that doesn’t entirely cater to them- and doesn’t mainly cater to them either? After listening to A Thousand Suns, I foresee another split in the Linkin Park fanbase coming. Those that feel LP did a good job enticing fans back… and those that feel cheated that the band even tried. Strange creature, traitor to the world- this has been Kaiju.