A good number of my friends look at me with mild disgust when I suggest that Linkin Park owns a unique brand of musical genius. But as someone who listens to large quantities of music from mainstream to indie, I contend that no one has mastered the art of rap-rock like they have (Quarashi is the only band I can think of that even belongs in the same neighborhood). There’s an almost mathematical perfection to both Hybrid Theory and Meteora, their first two full, non-remix albums. Ultimately, Linkin Park has offered something that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
I’m not one to say that bands shouldn’t change and mature. But, honestly, I didn’t want to see Linkin Park change, because they’re already unique. They have changed in Minutes to Midnight, and the metamorphosis isn’t a positive one.
Upon a first listen, two things are glaring:
1) Mike Shinoda’s rapping presence is minimal. I’ve always preferred Chester’s raspy vocals to Shinoda’s rapping, but he’s so underutilized on this album that you realize that he’s an integral part to the Linkin Park sound. The fusion of his rapping and Chester’s vocals combined with excellent beats and melodies makes the band.
2) There are a lot of songs that almost qualify as ballads. The good news is, most of them are pretty pleasant. Chester really does have a great voice- even when he isn’t screaming and rasping. The bad news is that they take up slots on the album that I wanted to see filled with the rap-rock-electronica-metal that immediately entranced me on Hybrid Theory and Meteora.
Undoubtedly, this album is the type that grows each time you play it, but it simply doesn’t do what fans of the band wanted it to do. There are a few hints of where the band has been. Stand-outs What I’ve Done, Bleed It Out, Given Up, and No More Sorrow all convince me that this may actually be Linkin Park and not some evil clone band from Mars.
Again, the album isn’t bad- I enjoyed it even on the first listen, but most of it doesn’t really do anything to distinguish itself from the type of alt-rock that you can find almost anywhere. 3.5 STARS