Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thoughts from a metal mind: The regression of Linkin Park

As a guy who was born in the mid 90's , I grew up during the boom of the nu-metal scene, with bands like Limp Bizkit, Korn, P.O.D, and several other bands more or less dominated the festivals and MTV (which at that time was still a music channel, and not the complete train wreck that it is today). But none of these acts could even match up to the fame and impact that Linkin Park reached. Their two first albums, "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora", are still rooted firmly into my heart, displaying some of the fantastic music this otherwise odd sub genre could produce.

As time has gone by, the California group has progressively gone more towards being a pop act, leaving their heavy roots more and more for each subsequent release. Today, a lot of people do not even see this band as a metal act, and I can fully agree on that statement, because the band do not really see themselves as metal either, even if it was a big part of their sound in the past.

We are now less than a month away from the release of their seventh full length album "One More Light", and everything points towards that the band has thrown the little metal they had in them out of the window, and completed their metamorphosis to a pure pop band, and it sickens me to my stomach, but not in the way you might think.

You see, I think the band has done their sound evolution very delicately, taking small steps so that we do not get into a state of complete shock. Even if the later albums have been more pop oriented, I still find a lot to like about them, things that makes the band unique and interesting. Yes, albums like "Living Things" and "The Hunting Party" are not really that spectacular, but they still had some neat stuff in them. It still felt like the band was trying to achieve something, evolving their sound more and more.

So that Linkin Park is becoming more pop is not my main concern, it is instead how much soul they are losing that really bugs me out. The band has released three songs so far from the new album, and none of them are of redeeming quality. First we have "Battle Symphony", a pretty cool title which more or less gives you the expectation that we will hear something heavy and exciting. Instead, we get a very generic and boring pop ballad without any guitars, no Mike Shinoda rapping, and a band that is just playing way under their capacity. Just take singer Chester Bennington for example, a guy who have one of the most powerful voices I have ever heard is singing pop ballads. This is the same guy who sang his lungs out in "Given Up", and it hurts me to hear such a talent go to waste.

"Heavy" is not much better, because here we have a duet between Chester and Kiiara, and once again, it is generic as hell and very sleep inducing. The band has also said that "Heavy" is the core sound of "One More Light", which is frightening as hell to me, because I do not want to hear an entire album with this generic bullshit.

"Good Goodbye" is the latest song released, and it is slightly better, because here we finally get to hear Shinoda again, together with Pusha T and Stormzy. Unfortunately, the structure is extremely predictable and there is close to no momentum in the song at all. It just is not appealing at all.

After three awful songs, will it keep me from listening to "One More Light"? Probably not, because Linkin Park has been one of the most important bands in my life, they have been a good part about who I am today. I am sure that I will hate this album, the band is most likely putting out one of the most boring and generic albums ever created, and it is not because of the lack of guitars, it is just boring pop. I am also sure that a lot of fans will not like this album at all, my father (who is a big fan of the band himself) hates these songs too, and he is one of the most positive music lovers I have ever come across, so even he cannot see this in a positive perspective. Something has gone wrong here, and I truly hope that this is just a one time thing, because I do not want to lose this band to the wretched grasp of mainstream mediocrity, they are far better than that.

My thoughts on previous Linkin Park records

Hybrid Theory
What a debut record, and it was a revolutionizing album to metal in general. There are so many fantastic songs here that display a lot of variety, from the frightening "Papercut", the heavy "One Step Closer", and the epic "In The End", this album is simply brilliant

A great sophomore effort that also contains a great batch of hits like "Somewhere I Belong", "Faint", "Breaking The Habit", and not least "Numb". It is not as consistent as its predecessor, but it is still a fantastic record that I still love today.

Minutes To Midnight
The first true step towards a more pop like sound, "Minutes To Midnight" contains a couple of boring songs, like the first single "What I've Done". It still has several great songs, like the crushing "Given Up" and the grand "No More Sorrow", but to me, it just does not have the consistency as the two first albums. Still good though.

A Thousand Suns
A really weird album that saw the band use a lot more electronic elements, and it is still today a very polarizing album in the band's discography. There is no Linkin Park album like this one, and it is one of my least favourites, with only "Wretches And Kings" being played time and time again.

Living Things
A slight return to form, even if it is a pretty inconsistent album in its entirety. It is definitely their heaviest album since the first two, and the band twists and turns with different structures, styles, and lengths. I like it, even if the only true stand out song here is the under 2 minute blaster "Victimized".

The Hunting Party
To be honest, I do not really remember all that much about this album, which should say a lot about it. "The Hunting Party" had some interesting bits, but is overall a mediocre album that is easily overshadowed by its brethren. I still respect it because the band keeps trying to do new things, but it is just not that memorable.

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