It really irritates me when a band I love and have a long history with ups and changes their musical direction to something I'm not stoked on, thereby challenging my loyalty to them. I like to think of myself as a loyal person, so when something disappoints me, I feel torn. Such is the case with this newest effort by Linkin Park, A Thousand Suns.
I had a bad feeling about this CD when I wrote this post about their song "The Catalyst" but was more optimisic when I heard "Wretches and Kings." Now that I have heard the entire release, all I can say is...rip.
My first reaction when hearing the album for the first time was "where are the guitars?" Indeed, it seems this rather essential instrument is taking a back seat in the new dancier, electronic musical direction this band is taking.
There is way more emphasis on keyboards, which is nice, and I do like the political lyrical themes, which I thought was a strength of their last CD, Minutes to Midnight. Mike Shinoda also contributes more vocals than before, which is also OK; I love that guy. But unfortunately, that also means more hip-hop stuff, too. The hip-hip stuff on previous albums was completely fine with me, because there was a balance of that genre's elements and the angst and edge of metal. It worked for me. But now the focus seems to be more on the hip-hop beats and sounds combined with very irritating sound effects that, if I heard them in a club, would make me head to the nearest exit as fast as I could so I could fight off the inevitable migraine.
The clubbishness of this album is really off-putting for someone not into that kind of scene at all. There are songs on here that, even on low volume, give me a headache. "When They Come for Me" is one of them. There are also quite a few insipid tracks on here that I have no idea what these guys were thinking of when they made the decision to put them on the CD. Case in point, "Robot Boy" and "Jornada del Muerto." "Waiting for the End" is another.
I hate to say it, but there are more bad tracks on this album than there are good ones. Most of the songs are groaners. In fact, I can only honestly say that I like two whole songs here, the aforementioned "Wretches and Kings" and a nice, slower piece called "Iridescent." In the case of "Wretches and Kings," it does have some of those annoying sound effects I was mentioning, but it's the song most reminiscent of "old" LP. "Iridescent" sounds like something from Minutes to Midnight, which isn't a bad thing, since I did enjoy that album even though a lot of people did not.
And what happened to Chester Bennington's harsh vocals is a mystery to me. They only appear in "Blackout" and "Wretches and Kings." I miss them. His clean vocals are amazing as always, however.
Also, what is up with the cover? What is that? A dove? What? It also gives me a headache!
Altogether, a frustrating listen. Sorry, LP, but this is a horns down for me. /m\