By Frisco Rosso
Although Linkin Park are regarded in some quarters as merely survivors of nu metal, their musical course thus far has been relatively well-plotted, and has paved the way for mainstream popularity that few of their earlier peers had the foresight (or, perhaps, inclination) to achieve.
Their latest record, Living Things, is a little bit different…
Hovering just inside the periphery of contemporary rock music, Living Things follows a similar electronica format to previous outing A Thousand Suns, but it’s less punchy and has a more forlorn tone. It could be considered a continuation or poor cousin of A Thousand Suns, but after delving a little deeper it starts sounding more like a unique and ambitious outing that few could have anticipated.
Principal songwriter and conductor Mike Shinoda clearly takes the reins of Living Things in terms of vocal outpouring and electro influence, extending himself on rap-intensive tracks such as opener Lost In The Echo and Lies Greed Misery, while handling lead vocal duties on Roads Untraveled and Until It Breaks.
The M.I.A/ Skrillex inspired Lies Greed Misery provides a much needed gloves-off lift after the barren, grey land- and cityscapes painted in previous tracks Lost in the Echo and In My Remains, while tracks such as I’ll Be Gone and Castle of Glass have a more familiar vibe akin to Minutes to Midnight.
Loud, brash intensity isn’t always the name of the game in Living Things, with lead singer Chester Bennington keeping the bleeding ear-induced screams to an absolute minimum, except on Victimized and Lies Greed Misery. However, the band manages to stir the blood by way of tortured emotional assertion consistently throughout the record.
While there is radio play possibility beyond Burn It Down, there’s also plenty of morbid depth on other tracks to separate the fans from the casual listeners. However, it is undoubtedly a disconsolate record and playing certain songs on repeat could leave sensitive listeners with a short-term dependence on prescription antidepressants.
Those of the original Linkin Park fan base that have refused to entertain the band’s obscure journey that began after Meteora, are likely to find little of interest on Living Things. Other listeners will probably not regard the album as being on par with A Thousand Suns as, by comparison, it sounds more like a time-out than genuine extension or progression.
It’s definitely not their greatest record, or the revolutionary “new sound” the pre-launch press releases would have you believe, but it’s not bad either, just a bit odd.
At this stage it’s unclear if the band’s reach extends as far as their ambition, and it may be a case of having to wait for the follow-up to Living Things to gain a better understanding of where the emotionally-charged sextet is heading, and where this album fits into the overall scheme of things.
That said, there is plenty to keep fans curious, with some interesting dimensions to explore and lose themselves in. Just remember to keep the lifeboats within dashing distance in anticipation of the next record, in case the Linkin Park ship alters course yet again.
Frisco rating: 7.5/10
With more tension than your mother’s suspension, I am Frisco Rosso. I’m likely to deliver a few lines worth at any given moment regarding film, music, sport, books and anything morally unsound that strikes a blow between the eyes in the name of entertainment.