Sunday, February 26, 2012

In the light of 1,000 suns

Today we focus on Linkin Park's 4th studio album "A Thousand Suns". As a band, they most definitely have come a long way since their oft-maligned debut - a debut with track after track that have become the set piece for many a joke about canned angst, and god only knows what else.

"Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora" were essentially a 2-part set, Meteora being the refinement of the original, but still quite similar. "Minutes to Midnight" brought in changed ideas, but seemed disjointed.

Which brings us to this disc. It is a bit heavy on minute-2 minute long interludes, but not a failing. The dreamy, ethereal opener "The Requiem" pulls off that classic mix-up - dreary words, but sung in a soothing, calming tone - and from the first full track, "Burning In The Skies", it is clear this is not the same group that came out back in 2000. The angst is still there, sure, but it is infused with an undercurrent of rising above and leaving it behind. Shinoda gets a bit more time on this album, storming in with the undeniably catchy stomper "When They Come For Me". They even delve into near-reggae-ish sounding vocal stylings on "Waiting for the end" and don't sound ridiculous doing it, surprisingly. Only "Blackout" sounds a tad too much like trying to recapture the scream-machine tirades of old.

The speeches of Oppenheimer, snatches of MLK, and a rather insistent and demanding screed from Mario Savio help to color and wrap the tunes that follow. "Wretches and Kings" sets the tone of this album perfectly - a reflection on a world by turns strange, frightening, uncertain, and a determination to slog on through it, however lofty or lowly the subject may believe their station in life to be. The full-on one-two punch of "Getting over it" comes with "Iridescent" - let it never be said these folks are incapable of writing a song that runs deep with "Give up the blah, move on, and live your life" sentiment - certainly not a song you would expect them to have written in 2000 listening to Hybrid Theory. It comes off a bit strange, as they sing of peace and contentment, only to have "Fallout"'s distorted spoken words of regret crash into the "world-is-burning" classic LP track "The Catalyst".

Bottom line - if you hate Linkin Park for the cliche, cheesy, whatever other criticisms were lobbed at them for the first 2 albums, and the stale jokes thrown around about them, the angst, etc...this might change your mind - if given a chance. They have evolved, and no matter how much or little you may think they have, one thing is undeniable - they are no longer the soundboard for the whiny kid goth-kidding it up in his room - they have embraced a more outward looking mindset - the things that are bigger than just the problems of one man, but the problems of the many - and moreover, a desire to overcome them and find peace - a rudimentary form of this statement, yes, but no less appealing a listen because of it. 

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