By Daniel Tumani
Linkin Park: Living Things Album Review.
Best of Both., 22 June 2012
LIVING THINGS – 6/10.
2010 saw the release of Linkin Park’s fourth full length studio album, the experimental, multi-concept album A Thousand Suns. The album split fans down the middle. Some fans were fond of the new sound; however some, including me, were disappointed with the drastic change in direction for the band. After this somewhat risky release, followers of the band were left wondering if Linkin Park had changed their sound for good, or if they were to return to the gritty nu-metal sound which gave the band their place in the industry. The short answer to that question is no, they haven’t gone back to their roots. However don’t dismiss ‘Living Things’ as another disappointing release, because it isn’t. Living Things combines musical elements from all of the bands previous albums; from the aggressive drop C guitars to the more recent electronic aspects of songs. Living Things is a truly unique album, and somewhat of a summary of what Linkin Park is capable of. If they hadn’t have released Hybrid Theory or A Thousand Suns, then there would be no Living Things. It contains features on at least one song that will appeal to a Linkin Park fan, old or new.
Tracks that stand out majorly for me are Lost in the Echo, Castle of Glass, Victimized and Until it Breaks.
Lost in the Echo, the album opener is one of the strongest songs on the record. The band has managed to capture the raw energy from Hybrid Theory whilst adding in fresh high energy electronic elements. Mike raps on the verse with aggression, reminiscent of A Place for my Head, and Chester’s clean vocals sweep the chorus in a very Minutes to Midnight-esque fashion. In my opinion, Burn It Down was a fairly average song; the song never really went anywhere. At first, I thought Lost in the Echo would repeat this, and the song wouldn’t be taken anywhere interesting or more energetic. Luckily I was wrong; the screams burst out after the second chorus which instantly gives power to the song. The use of screams and electronic mixing is used very well here. I thought it would be similar to Blackout, a very toned down and somewhat powerless scream however with the pounding guitars in the background, it works perfectly. This song sets the tone for Living Things and it’s a very strong album opener.
In My Remains is quick to follow, which is a good track; an electronic track with big Minutes to Midnight sounding guitars and vocals. The third track and first single Burn It Down is next, and as I stated earlier, I wasn’t a huge fan of the song. Lies Greed Misery comes bursting through afterwards. For me, this song is packed with energy. It’s like Meteora meets A Thousand Suns. It’s a solid track; electronic beats and edgy hip hop in the verses with an aggressive chorus; ‘I wanna see you choke on your lies, swallow up your greed, suffer all alone in your misery’. The song also shines at the end with attacking screams. It goes out with a bang. I’ll Be Gone is track 5, and similar to In My Remains. It sounds fairly similar to Minutes to Midnight and New Divide. It isn’t a bad song, but it doesn’t capture your attention as much as Lost in the Echo and Lies Greed Misery.
Track 6 is Castle of Glass, and this song stood out for me. The song begins with a pounding electronic drum and it soon comes in with an interesting and catchy synth line. The verse is haunting, with the deep vocals. In the chorus, Mike and Chester’s voices sound similar, but you can still hear the difference. Their voices complement each other well as they claim they’re ‘only a crack, in this castle of glass’. After the first chorus, the song builds up with pounding drums and the synth line again, which effortlessly sounds good. There’s another round of the haunting verse and chorus, this time more upbeat. After a Chester takes a soft interlude, the song bursts back into the chorus, more lively and louder. Castle of Glass is a simple song, yet one that catches the listener’s attention.
If you’re feeling a bit mellow after listening to Castle of Glass, don’t settle down just yet. Victimized doesn’t wait to introduce its aggressive, lively sound. After a very short break, thunderous drums and intense electro/guitar break in to the song. After the storming introduction, more haunting vocals are sung by Mike, but this time it’s building up to something huge. Before you know it, Chester’s violent scream of ‘Victimized’ is being thrown into your face. Straight after the chorus, the song takes another twist, as Mike starts to rap. However unlike previous rapping on the album, this song adopts an identical rhythm to the one in When They Come For Me. This works perfectly; it’s a bouncy verse yet you can hear the sarcastic, playful tone. After another round of being Victimized, Chester prolongs the scream, and a Given Up effect is unleashed. Straight after that, it’s over. This song is my favourite; it’s a perfect example of how Linkin Park have combined elements of each album and mixed them all into a song. Shame it’s only 1 minute 47 seconds long.
Roads Untraveled follows, which is a break from the boisterous Victimized. It starts with bells, before breaking into an introduction reminiscent of Iridescent. Again, Mike sings the verses, and Chester takes the chorus. The lyrics in this song stand out for me; ‘Weep not for roads untraveled, weep not for paths left alone, cause beyond every bend, is a long blinding end, it’s the worst kind of pain I’ve known’. The song builds up and goes out in a true Linkin Park fashion. The song reminds of me of In Between crossed with The Messenger.
After the folk/electronic Skin to Bone, Until It Breaks is unleashed. This song is very interesting. It starts with fairly heavy hip hop, and suddenly breaks out into a soft chorus. The song is soon back into the hip hop but then takes and unexpected turn. A hymn like melody is released, and it doesn’t sound like Linkin Park. With lyrics such as ‘We swim against the rising waves, and crash against the shore, the body bends until it breaks, the early morning sings no more’, we’re taken by surprise. From heavy hip hop to hymn like singing, this shows Linkin Park’s experimentation. When you compare any song on Hybrid Theory to Until It Breaks, it’s truly shocking. I personally think Linkin Park experimented too much with the sound at the end of this song, and it takes the raw emotion that the song began with, from it. If the song had ended before the hymn like singing, a song like Nobody’s Listening could’ve been created. The hymn singing could have been used as an interlude; it would’ve worked better in my opinion.
Tinfoil is a short break, until Powerless, the final track, is played. Powerless starts almost identical to Burning in the Skies. It is a standard Linkin Park piano track. It is a good song, with good lyrics. It ends the album well; on a mellow note that builds up to an epic outro.
Living Things is a not a bad album. It’s full of some great songs, and some disappointing. It’s a big improvement from the ‘too experimental’ album A Thousand Suns. None of the songs really compare to the classic Hybrid Theory/Meteora tracks, however they are still good songs. I believe if you don’t listen to this album with the mindset of wanting Hybrid Theory, you will enjoy it. Yes, Linkin Park have changed, but whether there’s loud distortion guitars, or pounding electronic beats, this album proves they can still write good music.