Throughout the band’s career, Linkin Park have kept evolving and changing their sound with every album. From their raw, groundbreaking first offering ‘Hybrid Theory’ to their more laid-back, softer latest album ‘A Thousand Suns’, the band have changed their sound so much that they’re almost unrecognisable. Their music has moved with the constantly changing times and this has led to them leaking into the mainstream â€“ some fans call it “selling out”, but the material they’ve released has always sold well and they’ve managed to keep their considerable fan-base happy. ‘A Thousand Suns’ shows the band at their most grown up and ambient. They will never record an album as good as ‘Hybrid Theory’ again, but it’s not as if they havenâ€™t tried. ‘A Thousand Suns’ is a totally different album to their previous ones, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The album starts with the eerie ‘The Requiem’. A female vocalist sings over a minimal dance-esque backing, and neither vocalists Chester Bennington nor Mike Shinoda feature on this song. “God save us everyone / Will we burn / Inside the fires of a thousand suns?” is an almost post-apocalyptic line and it sets up the album perfectly. As neither of the band’s vocalists feature it shows the band aren’t afraid to experiment and engages the listener straight away. ‘When They Come For Me’ is the most mainstream song on the album. Its tribal drumbeat, pulsing synth and Mike Shinoda‘s rapping make for a song that wouldn’t sound out of a place in a nightclub. Saying that, the song fits into the album’s theme of ambience and experimentation. The lyrics though seem rushed, and to be honest are pretty awful: “And I’m not a robot / I’m not a monkey / I will not dance if the beat’s funky”. Linkin Park may be going for a new style of music, but with these type of lyrics it really doesn’t work.
The best song on the album is ‘Blackout’. It’s more like the old Linkin Park we came to adore and will make the long-time fans happy as Chester Bennington‘s screams are reminiscent of the band’s ‘Hybrid Theory’-era of work. The piano and constant drumbeat work well with the trance-like synth, and the song comes across that the band are angry at something and want to make a point. The lyrics sum this up completely: “Fuck it, are you listening? / No / You’ve gotta get it inside / You push it back down”.
‘The Messenger’, the last song on the album, is comparable to an acoustic session. Chester Bennington croons emotionally over the guitar and the lyrics will hit home with people who need that little something to brighten up a bad day. “When you’ve suffered enough, and your spirit is breaking / You’re growing desperate from the fight / Remember you’re loved and always will be” – it is a heartfelt song and one that will be popular with all types of their fans.
This album won’t appeal to the fans looking for the new ‘Hybrid Theory’, but Linkin Park have done themselves no harm. ‘A Thousand Suns’ shows them experimenting with new genres and they may attract more mainstream fans by doing this. Fans waiting for the old Linkin Park to surface again will be waiting a long time, maybe even forever. The band seem comfortable with their new sound and as every album they release will sell well, they’re in their own right to do just as they please.
Written by Rhys Milsom