A new Linkin Park album almost always brings division in the fanbase, a separation that puts Marmite to shame. It’s time to take a look at their newest endeavour.
To really appreciate Linkin Park’s newest album, it’s worth going into their earlier work first. Hybrid Theory, their debut album, was a generally solid example of early noughts nu-metal. The follow up, Meteora, took the band down a darker, heavier path. From there, Minutes to Midnight managed to mix in a bit of satire, but also brought the band into a slightly more mainstream light. The next album was A Thousand Suns, which really delved deep into the electronic sound Linkin Park had been experimenting with, though Living Things reigned it in. Now we’re looking at The Hunting Party.
The main conclusion to draw really is that there’s no such thing as “Just another Linkin Park album”, because that’s simply too broad a term for a band which produces as diverse a range as Linkin Park. It starts as a heavy, punchy, frantic album which wages a war on everything around it with harsh electronics, pounding guitars and a fast beat; Keys to the Kingdom, Guilty All the Same and Rebellion provide a similar heavy sound to Minutes to Midnight‘s Given Up and No More Sorrow. Later songs on the album, particularly Drawbar and Final Masquerade are closer to songs like Shadow of the Day, or A Thousand Suns‘ Irridescent. The album is one of their best in terms of direction, thematics and, crucially, individuality. This is an album that strives to be different to any other album out there, ever – though Final Masquerade is, admittedly, a bit generic, the softer tone fits the song far more appropriately that simply trying to break the mould.
Ultimately, the point is that it’s hard to define whether you’ll be a fan based solely on Linkin Park’s previous works, simply because it tries hard – and succeeds – at being so different to a lot of their previous efforts, something the band has excelled at over time. Though you can compare the album to any other Linkin Park has made, it’s difficult to draw direct comparisons, and to do so does great injustice to the Californian rockers.
It’s a solid album with a very definite direction. There are songs that are memorable from the first listen, and some that grow to fruition over a longer period. The band has taken what it has learned from A Thousand Suns and Living Things, and emerged in a new direction owned totally by them. The album’s initial strengths lie mostly with their stronger songs (Keys to the Kingdom and Guilty All the Same are standouts, though A Line In the Sand is a memorable finish despite its more subdued nature). Other songs take a little longer to reveal their particular nuances; All for Nothing and Mark the Graves are two songs which fall into this category, and only really start to stand out on the third or fourth playthrough.
In the end though, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Linkin Park fan, because the album isn’t just a cookie cutter formula. It isn’t “Electro Hybrid Theory” or “Meteora part two: Electric Boogaloo”, its an album that stands apart from both their other works and from the current rock scene. Overall, fans of Linkin Park’s heavier songs like Given Up, Until it Breaks or Wretches and Kings will get more mileage out of this than others. If you’re looking for another Hybrid Theory, Meteora or Living Things, then this album probably isn’t for you.
The Hunting Party by Linkin Park Is Out Now.