The Hunting Party Linkin Park Review 2014

If you’re like me, you can’t believe that Linkin Park just released their sixth studio album, well, technically it releases on June 17, 2014. I was fortunate enough to obtain a copy early of The Hunting Party by Linkin Park in order to provide this review. As an early adult I remember rocking out to songs such as “Numb”, “Breaking the Habit”,”Papercut” and “One Step Closer”. In fact, a lot of people did as Hybrid Theory and Meteora sold over a total of 15 million copies in the US alone since 2000. More recently they released Minutes to Midnight in 2007, A Thousand Suns in 2010, and Living Things in 2012.

Mike Shinoda described this album as being “Visceral” and stated on his blog recently that he wrote this record due to the fact that people were losing faith in rock music. Supposedly, he threw out the softer demos and took on the challenge of saving the genre of rock that has unquestionably gone downhill as of late. “Why can’t Linkin Park go back to the heavy guitars, scratching, screaming and rapping,” asked everyone on the internet. Well, our persistent complaining has finally paid off, besides the scratching. (I wonder what exactly Mr. Hahn does in the band these days?) Linkin Park is back and better than they’ve ever possibly been. Perhaps the energy they brought from their sideprojects with Chester recording with Stone Temple Pilots and Mike’s Fort Minor rapping, singing and producing has contributed to this explosion of sounds on The Hunting Party. After their dubstep, techno and soft rock phase passed they went back to their roots and their earlier sound. Thankfully they’ve provided us with 45 minutes of excellent music.

1 – “Keys To The Kingdom” Loud, energetic, new formula between Mike and Chester sharing vocals. Intense rapping and just fun to listen to. This could be their best album opener; it’s in contention with “Papercut” and “Lost in the Echo”. 10/10

2 – “All For Nothing” (feat. Page Hamilton) Very catchy, this was the first song I really grabbed onto due to the aggressive rapping by Mike Shinoda. Page Hamilton’s chorus over the screaming of Bennington results in a very satisfying track. 10/10

3 – “Guilty All The Same” (feat. Rakim) This song was our first signal of where this album was going sonically. It has a really cool riff and Chester Bennington sounds extremely raw. To me, this reminds me of Chester on his latest Stone Temple Pilots album High Rise. Rakim is the guest rapper on this track and he has a nice flow. Lyrically, Rakim’s part fits nicely within the context of the song. 8.5/10

4 – “The Summoning” An interlude. It eventually leads to some screaming and a very nice drum solo by Rob Bourbon. Not sure why we’re hearing a kid hit a baseball at the end of the track, but again, I’m no musical genius. 7/10

5 – “War” This song contains a lot of punk elements and it is very raw. Chester is screaming over a hard guitar driven beat. Again, Bourbon just kills it on the drums here. Really nice guitar riff from Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda. This is a completely new, and unique sound for them. 9/10

6 – “Wastelands” This song almost sounds like it could have been on their sophomore album, Meteora. Suffice to say, it brings the rock and rap back and that’s what most of the fans wanted- their old unique formula. 9/10

7 – “Until It’s Gone” Kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in comparison to the rest of the album. It is the most radio-friendly track on the album, though. Pretty catchy even though lyrically it repeats the same chorus of “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”. 7/10

8 – “Rebellion” (feat. Daron Malakian) This sounds like a System of a Down song from the onset. Daron’s influence can be sensed from the very beginning of the track which leads to a very energetic song. Mike’s chorus gives it a punkish/soft vibe and then the chorus comes in to kick you in the mouth. The bridge will win back fans of the Hybrid Theory and Meteora days. 9.5/10

9 – “Mark The Graves” This is your class love-it-or-hate-it track here. It has a long drawn-out intro that starts off very heavy. Then it transitions into a A Thousand Suns sounding verse with some synth and acappella-like singing. Eventually it leads to Bennington screaming about the dead. I personally love this song, but as I’ve looked around the internet, it’s a song that is a grower on a lot of people, at least initially. 9.5/10

10 – “Drawbar” (feat. Tom Morello) A short instrumental with Tom Morello laying down some softer guitar. The piano is very beautiful in this song. For me, this is the calm before the storm. It is very calming and beautiful as an instrumental. It reminds me of a Reanimation interludes because they were so piano-driven. 8/10

11 – “Final Masquerade” This song is sort of reminiscent of ‘Valentine’s Day’ from their album Minutes to Midnight. It’s softer, Chester is signing nicely over a pop yet moody beat. Lyrically, I think this is a dark track and it fits the overall vibe of a Linkin Park single circa 2007. 8.5/10

12 – “A Line In The Sand” This is probably the best Linkin Park track I’ve ever heard. This has it all, melodic singing, thrashing guitars, rapping, screaming and deep lyrics. I cannot get enough of this song. If your friend ever says Linkin Park sucks, please direct them to this song and play it as loud as you can when they’re around you. 10/10

Standout tracks: Keys to the Kingdom, All for Nothing, War, Mark the Graves, A Line in the Sand.

LOUD! Seriously, this is their hardest sounding record to date. Yes, even more guitar, drumming and screaming than Hybrid Theory or Meteora.

Their old formula has changed. No longer is it verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus structure on every track.

Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington take turns sharing the spotlight. Nobody is dominate here vocally although Chester shines when he decides to scream his lungs out. Even at age 38, he’s still got it. Shinoda shows us a little bit of his Fort Minor energy by aggressively rapping on “Keys to the Kingdom”, “All for Nothing”, and “Wastelands”.

Positives: Every song is diverse; nothing sounds too similar on this album.

Guests featured on the album included Rakim, Page Hamilton, Daron Malakion, and Tom Morello.

Interludes tie nicely into the next song.

Production value: very raw, in-your-face and natural which is a shift compared to their earlier albums.

Negatives: I’m nitpicking here but interesting random sounds at the of a few songs. Not sure what their purpose is. Maybe they’ll shed light on their decision to include those? Sometimes it’s cool to just have a record without feeling like you need to fast forward through sections at the end of the song.

Some songs seem like they don’t belong. Until It’s Gone sticks out like a sore thumb. They described this album as being “visceral” but the simplicity of the lyrics and repetitive nature of the song left me a bit disappointed there. Final Masquerade, while a major improvement in the lyrical department, also felt like it was too mellow for this thrashing album.

Bottom Line:Amazing album. If you like rock, alternative, rap or music in general, I think you’ll like it. This is not top 40 pop Linkin Park, this is a true, rich and edgy Linkin Park. 9/10

Make sure to check out Linkin Park on their tour this summer with Thirty Seconds to Mars and AFI called the Carnivores Tour.

Adjusting The Neck And Truss Rod Of Your Guitar

The Importance of a Properly Adjusted Neck

One of the more difficult things to adjust by yourself on a guitar is adjusting the neck, it is also one where you can do actual damage to the guitar if you’re not careful. Most electric and acoustic guitars are reinforced with a metal truss rod, which runs the length of the neck, One end of the truss rod will be secured by a seating bolt, and the other end will usually have an Allen wrench socket. Some older guitars may be fitted for a Philips head screwdriver.

There are two things which can go wrong when making this adjustment, but if you go carefully they can be easily avoided. The first is over tightening the rod, which either breaks the rod or wrings the seating bolt out. The second is loosening the truss rod too much so it comes completely unscrewed from the seating bolt. If this happens, it is extremely hard to get the rod re-seated into the seating bolt.

A properly adjusted neck is essential for a well playing guitar, and all the other procedures for getting your guitar in the best playing condition are dependent on a properly adjusted neck. This includes setting the action and making sure the intonation is accurate.

The neck should be either perfectly straight, or be curved very slightly towards the front of the guitar – this slight curve is called relief. If the curve towards the front of the guitar is too great, the action will not be consistent, and the strings will get further away from the fretboard as you get closer to the body of the guitar.

Making the Adjustments

If the neck is curved towards the back of the guitar it will make the instrument almost unplayable. The adjustments are actually quite easy – just be sure to go very slow, and adjust the guitar by turning the truss rod only ¼ of a full turn at once.

Depending on the guitar, the end with the Allen wrench socket will be either at the headstock (usually under a small plastic plate) or at the body end of the guitar. On most electrics, the adjustment socket will be at the headstock. On most acoustics it will be located where the neck joins the body of the guitar – just look inside the soundhole of the acoustic and you should be able to see where the Allen wrench will fit into the truss rod.

In either case, turning the Allen wrench clockwise will tighten the truss rod, counter clockwise and it will loosen it. Tightening the rod will make the neck flex backwards, away from the front of the guitar. If the neck has to great a curvature towards the front of the guitar (which is the usual case for a neck that needs adjustment) you will want to tighten the truss rod.

Before making the adjustments, loosen the strings slightly.

Take care though – it is always a good idea to first loosen the truss rod a ¼ or ½ a turn before starting the tightening procedure. If the neck has been out of adjustment for a long period of time, it may need a little extra coaxing as well.

After loosening the truss rod, tighten it back to its original starting position and then tighten it an additional ¼ turn. If there seems to be no change in the position of the neck, lay the guitar face up on your lap so the neck is laying over one of your legs about halfway up the neck, and then gently press both ends of the neck down. Do this very gently, tighten the truss rod another ¼ turn, and then retune the guitar.

After this initial adjustment, hold the guitar up vertically and look down the side of the neck to see if it has straightened sufficiently – remember, a slight amount of inward curvature (or relief) is OK, and sometimes necessary.

If the neck is bowed backwards (away from the front of the guitar) follow the same procedure, except loosen the rod instead of tightening it. Most adjustments to get the neck straight or with an acceptable amount of relief will only take ½ to ¾ of a turn, in ¼ turn increments.

When Professional Help is Needed

If the neck has a hump in it, as opposed to being curved to sharply, or if the neck is twisted to either side, it will usually require the attention of a repair shop, and may need to be replaced, but this happens very rarely.

Remember – treat truss rod adjustments gently, and do them slowly. If you follow these simple steps, this really is a simple procedure, and will be one more skill in your toolbox that will allow you to maintain and fix your own guitar!

Andy writes for The Gaston Guitarist, a blog about all things musical!

Thank You For The Music, Scotland

Scotland is famous for some fantastic exports – Scotch whiskey, shortbread, and the Grand Theft Auto video games to name but a few. But it’s also produced some top-quality musicians who have gone out into the world to represent their country, even if no one knows that’s where they came from.

Annie Lennox

While she has been co-opted as a British woman, Annie was born in the undoubtedly Scottish city of Aberdeen on Christmas Day. Throughout her childhood she performed at the now defunct Aberdeen Music Festival, and met her one-time partner and musical companion Dave Stewart while working with The Tourists. When she and Stewart formed The Eurythmics they became an immediate success and she has been referred to as “the Scottish Bowie” on occasion. She also cares deeply about charity work and raises money for HIV and AIDS charities, which featured in the exhibition The House of Annie Lennox which moved between the V&A in London and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

She is held as such a darling of Scotland that pro-independence supporters slated her this year for posting a picture of the Union Jack, saying that she no longer found it threatening.

Bon Scott and the Young Brothers

While AC/DC are commonly touted as an Australian band, they have actually only had two Australia-born members, while the rest have largely come from the UK. Bon Scott was born in Forfor, Scotland but moved to Australia at the age of six, where he developed an out-of-control lifestyle that eventually made him so desirable as the lead singer of AC/DC. He joined the band after meeting Angus and Malcom Young, who were also Scottish and had moved to Australia at the ages of eight and ten respectively, and became an iconic voice for the band in huge hits like Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and Let There Be Rock. Although he died in 1980, the annual BonFest in his hometown of Kirriemuir is still a pilgrimage for AC/DC fans – although with its remote location, it is only convenient for those staying in lodges in Scotland who are willing to travel.

Lulu

Child star Lulu was raised in a working class family in Dennistoun, Glasgow, and was singing as soon as she could talk. As a teenager she performed with The Gleneagles, touring Scotland and playing weekly gigs at the Lindella Club in Glasgow every Sunday evening. She is a singer, actress, TV personality and the face of her own makeup range, Time Bomb, as well as being the first Scottish woman to record a theme tune for a Bond film: The Man with the Golden Gun.

Shirley Manson

Speaking of James Bond theme tunes, this Edinburgh-raised musician and actress is the third female Scot (after Lulu and Sheena Easton) to perform his theme in The World Is Not Enough. She started out playing in the Scottish band Goodbye Mr Mackenzie before being spotted while performing her own music under the name Angelfish. She is now best known as the front woman of the American alternative-rock band Garbage but also collaborates with artists like Gwen Stefani and Iggy Pop and played the role of a T-1001 Terminator in the show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

KT Tunstall

The phonetically-named KT began life in St Andrews as the daughter of an Irish father and a mother of Chinese and Scottish descent. When she was just eighteen days old she was adopted by a kind family and raised in Fife for some time before moving to the US and temporarily living in a hippy commune, having formed a band there. When she returned to the UK she lived at first in London and then returned to St Andrews where she became deeply involved with the local alternative/folk music scene, and toured around Europe with the Scottish folk band Fence Collective. Her rise to fame was pure fortune; she was the backup act for Later With Jools Holland, but when the American rapper Nas dropped out last minute she had her big break.

True Bond ladies, rock legends and Scottish role-models have all come from the fair land of Scotland, bringing their unique cultural influences with them in everything that they do.

Why Most Guitarists Fail To Build Speed And How To Succeed

Guitar players often fail to achieve great speed in their playing because they adhere to one of the following (common) practicing principles:

1. Because they are taught to do so by their teacher, guitar players will practice ‘slowly’ all the time under the belief that it will increase their top speed. Reality is, guitar teachers who put this advice forward are terrible at producing guitar students who play very fast.

2. Some guitarists only want to play fast because they feel impatient while practicing slowly. This leads them to ‘try to play as fast as possible’ every chance they get. They believe that working on increasing their top speed every day will eventually help them play faster.

The truth is, both of these practicing approaches do NOT help you increase your guitar playing speed. Although they may seem like ‘common sense’ approaches to some, each approach has its own problems that are never discussed or solved by most guitar instructors. On top of that, if you practice too much using either one it can actually damage your overall guitar playing (without you even being aware of it). To truly increase your guitar playing speed, you need to understand the advantages of practicing both slow and fast so that you can get the best of both worlds.

Now you will learn why you will not increase your guitar speed by always playing ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ and which approaches you should be taking instead:

Why ‘Always’ Practicing Slowly Doesn’t Help You Build Your Guitar Speed

Reason 1: Constantly Practicing Slow Does Not Prepare You Mentally For Faster Playing Speeds

To play guitar at the highest possible speed, you have to posses the ability to comprehend notes at the same tempo (or faster) that you are playing on. If you never practice at fast speeds, you will never improve your ability to mentally comprehend the notes in a way that is necessary to play cleanly at higher tempos. This will result in sloppy playing at higher speeds and a lack of ability to follow the tempo in faster music.

To avoid this issue, you must invest time into training your mind, picking hand and fretting hand to play at faster speeds.

Reason 2: You Develop Poor Habits That Make It Difficult To Make Any Progress Toward Becoming A Fast Guitarist

While practicing guitar at slow speeds as your only means of practice, you begin creating habits of playing with sloppy movements that you would never use while playing fast. It’s harder to notice when you are wasting movement in your picking/fretting hands while playing at slow speeds (when you have a lot more time between each note to get it right). If you try to apply the same movements while playing at faster speeds, you will quickly notice a lot of mistakes and it will be hard to keep both hands coordinated together.

Here are two very common examples of this that I see while helping my newer students become better players:

    • They try to pick each ‘individual’ string within a sweep picking arpeggio pattern instead of using a single sweeping motion to move across all strings simultaneously
  • They play 3 note per string scale patterns with continuous alternate picking technique. This involves excessive and unnecessary picking motion, leading to slower playing and general sloppiness.

Reason 3: You Don’t Know What Prevents You From Increasing Your Speed

Before your ‘slow’ practice can effectively help you build speed on guitar, you have to know which problems are preventing you from becoming a faster player now. This is crucial! If you don’t take the time to understand this, your guitar practice time will bring you little to no returns. You simply can’t get big results by blindly practicing and hoping that you start getting better. To become a faster guitarist as soon as possible, you have to explicitly know what needs to be fixed in your playing and how doing so will help you increase speed. This requires actually playing at faster speeds and looking for any mistakes or errors that you can take note of. Only AFTER you’ve identified these things can you truly begin to have effective slow practice.

When you practice at slow speeds without going through the steps from above, it’s like walking across a tight rope with your hands over your eyes while attempting to keep your balance. To take your hands away from your eyes and maintain your balance (so you can make it across) you have to know what is keeping you from becoming a faster guitarist. Always make sure you understand this before you practice slowly.

Why ‘Always’ Playing At Your Highest Speed (With Less Than Perfect Precision) Will Damage Your Ability To Play Fast

Now you understand why practicing guitar slowly all the time will not help you become a faster player. However, it’s just as ineffective to exclusively play at fast speeds (when you haven’t fully mastered what you are playing yet). Here’s why:

Reason 1: You Increase The Chances Of Wrist/Arm Injury

A major drawback to playing fast with mistakes is the injuries that can occur from poor, under-developed playing technique. Poor playing technique comes from not learning how to play efficiently/correctly at slower speeds so that you don’t use excessive force or movement at higher speeds. This is serious: I’ve seen many guitarists hurt themselves from continuous playing at high speeds – resulting in many months of recovery time away from guitar.

To make sure this never happens to you, always remain aware of how much tension you are using in your body as you play at faster speeds (you can only observe this while playing fast). Once you have pinpointed any unnecessary tension in your body, slow down and play using only as much tension as you need. Next, play at a faster speed again while using ‘just enough’ tension to play effortlessly.

Note: NEVER play guitar if you are feeling pain somewhere in your body (from playing)! If you ever notice pain or discomfort, put down your guitar and take a break.

Reason 2: Your Guitar Playing Becomes Sloppy

If you practice a lot at fast tempos while making mistakes, you are essentially solidifying these mistakes into your muscle memory. This deeply engrains poor playing habits into your mind – essentially ‘training’ you to become a worse guitar player! I see this all the time with newer students. To help them become faster guitar players I first identify the mistakes they are making while playing fast. Then I show them how to spot these mistakes on their own so they can quickly improve.

To make sure you do not run into this problem, balance your guitar practice by practicing for total accuracy as you play slowly while also training the skills that can only be improved through faster playing.

Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and international guitar teacher. He also helps musicians learn guitar online and reach their guitar playing goals. Visit his rock and metal guitar lessons site to read more articles about guitar playing, plus get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.