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.