Saturday, July 14, 2012

Album Review: Linkin Park's Living Things



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Let's get this one thing straight. I am quite confused as to gauging this new album from the six-man rock band who previously brought Nu-Metal into mainstream media at the turn of the millennium. Especially with their previous album A Thousand Suns - which for me was the peak of their ambitiousness, music-wise - in mind; so the question stands: where to go next?

For starters, there's the album's length. Compared to their past two albums, this just hits it near the 37-minute mark, averaging at least three to three and a half minutes per song; two of the longest barely make the four minute-mark. 


Visually, the cover and booklet arts are slightly subdued in expression compared to Suns, which is a good thing for those who want to read the lyrics. But with only 12 tracks, the number of artworks, all created through design software, are quite few; you can barely even see the art behind the lyrics.


Now on to the songs. Various reviews have stated that the album is quite a nod to the past four, with all the good elements from them mish-mashed into one. Time to see if they have a point by analyzing the album track-by-freaking-track:


Track 1: Lost in the Echo


Quite the in-your-face track this. If you want concrete proof of the previous statement, look no further. The song is a proper nod to the electronics from Suns and Meteora, coupled with the lyrical verbosity of Minutes to Midnight, and the musical energy we all missed from Hybrid Theory. Out of all the songs in the album, this has the best lyrics I've heard (especially the raps), and ironically the hardest to memorize.


Track 2: In My Remains


This one has a more subdued, yet constant energy like the previous song. But in my opinion, this is more like co-vocalist Chester Bennington's side project Dead by Sunrise rather than a proper LP anthem. Good to note though is the war-laced lyrics, circa Suns, are present (Like an army, falling, one by one by one...)


Track 3: Burn it Down


The hypnotic intro of this song is quite the good touch, the length and lyrics (particularly the rap bridge) is not. Which is a pity considering that this was the album's lead single. 


Track 4: Lies Greed Misery


Seems they've mashed Waiting for the End's jolly atmosphere with the madness from Wretches and Kings and When they Come for Me; I mean, this song is a proper example, again in my opinion, of a musical oxymoron. Which is a very good thing. 


Another thing to note though is that I think they intend to insert some expletives in the song's lyrics, but subdued them to staccato. (I sense an incoming dirty version of this later...XD)


Track 5: I'll be Gone


Another DBS-ish track, but slightly more subdued. Good to note here is Bennington's excellent vocal flexibility all throughout, from mellow stanzas to the heavy chorus, but not pushing it to the limit. However, I'm sensing that the song may have lost some momentum from the first four tracks...


Track 6: Castle of Glass


The band may have made a habit of creating new genres since they released Suns. Case in point: this, a fairly Nu-Folk song with a very artistic lyric construction. Could use some more oomph though; must be the vocal melody.


Track 7: Victimized


Seems just two minutes is enough for the band to show everyone that they haven't lost touch of their dark Nu-Metal roots. And this song is proof: perfect for those who missed Chester going at it full throttle.


Track 8: Roads Untraveled


Similar in musical concept as Castle of Glass, but this is more Nu-slow rock than Nu-folk. Try comparing the melody to the song "House of the Rising Sun", and you would be quite surprised that they're quite compatible. Sort of. (good heavy climax though)


Track 9: Skin to Bone


Again, another Nu-folk song, but this time given heavier electronics. The downside here is the lyrics; too simple, not much of a drama, and maybe lacking more variety...


Track 10: Until it Breaks


If some tracks at the beginning of the album had that DBS vibe, then this one is more Fort Minor - co-vocalist Mike Shinoda's artistic realm capsulized in one track. A combination of four rough ideas, this may have the most concrete song ideas mixed; an attempt of sparing good ideas from being scrapped (the last I've heard of this was with Green day and their American Idiot album). Loving the Japanese reference in the second part, but I'm quite torn on the last part...


Track 11: Tinfoil


basically a short segue to the last track, so no need to elaborate.


Track 12: Powerless


Again, another musical oxymoron incarnate. song title vs. musical intensity. A great way to cap the album, being the negative yin to the first track's positive yang. Instant fave sentimental anthem, this. 


Conclusion


After 37 minutes, it is safe to say that the band has completely moved on to creating an identity for themselves, while at the same time retaining the very essence that was known of them since they started churning music. However with this album, it seems they've lost some of that steam from Suns, but regained a few by mashing everything from their past and so much more.


I cannot personally vouch that they have reached, or at least close to reaching, the zenith of artistic greatness. But they are on the right track to get there, notwithstanding the fact that it is still a long way... 

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