Review: Linkin Park – Living Things

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Reviews

Linkin Park’s newest, “Living Things”

On their newest record, Living Things, which was released on June 26, 2012, Linkin Park finally made the inevitable leap to electronic music for which everyone was just waiting around.  Linkin Park, one of the first rock bands to popularize the integration of a DJ, have often inserted electronic elements into their music, as exemplified by “Breaking the Habit” on 2003’s Meteora and “Shadow of the Day” from 2007’s Minutes to Midnight.  Nonetheless, the Californian group are of the “nu-metal” genre by nature, so more of their songs are fueled by distorted power chords and lead vocalist Chester Bennington’s roaring hooks.  Living Things takes every musical strategy and every genre with which Linkin Park ever experimented, pushes them to the next level and mashes them all together in a compact thirty-seven minutes.

“Lost in the Echo” commences the record with a clean synthesized beat and immediately displays for listeners some of the new concepts they will surely encounter, though once rapper and rhythm guitarist Mike Shinoda kicks off the lyrical content with one of the best rap verses of his career, soon accompanied by a loud and bombastic, classic Chester Bennington chorus, fans can relax somewhat.  “In My Remains” and Living Things’ lead single, “Burn It Down,” continue in the footsteps of the opener, combining keyboards, synthesizers and textures of dubstep, a recently popularized electronic genre characterized by deep basslines and explosions of fuzzy “vuh-vuh-vuhs” and “wub-wub-wubs,” with classic Linkin Park techniques, though “Lost” and “Burn” are far superior to “Remains.”

The record reaches its peak at the fourth song, “Lies Greed Misery,” which follows a similar formula to its three predecessors, but also resembles a dubstepped-out version of Meteora’s “Faint,” relying entirely on Shinoda’s raps during the verses, and Bennington’s screaming hook (less singing and more shouting on this one) on the chorus.  “Lies” is probably the tightest track on the twelve song album, acting as the only song, save maybe for “Lost in the Echo” or “Burn It Down” that leave listeners as heavily impacted as they were after first hearing some of Linkin Park’s early hits such as “One Step Closer,” “Crawling,” and “Numb.”

And then, with the end of “Lies Greed Misery,” the record’s quality begins to dwindle.  The following two tracks, “I’ll Be Gone” and “Castle of Glass” continue the typical Linkin Park sound, though they are more comparable, overall quality-wise to “In My Remains” rather then to “Burn it Down” or “Lies.”  After “Castle,” the band starts focusing too much on their newly adopted fully electronic sound.  If one were to listen to “Victimized” and “Tinfoil,” he or she would by no means be able to tell these songs had been written and performed by Linkin Park.  “Roads Untraveled,” “Skin to Bone” and “Until it Breaks” point back to “Castle of Glass” and “I’ll Be Gone:” not particularly mind-blowing tunes, though they are recognizably Linkin Park tunes. The power-ballady “Powerless,” however, ends the record on a note reminiscent of “Shadow of the Day,” and ties the lyrical themes up niceley

Living Things starts as a powerful, intriguing and experimental record that plays with new ground without straying too far from Linkin Park’s familiar sound, though about halfway through, it loses focus, which is sad, because the first four tracks are truly stellar.  Living Things, however, is still far more tightly constructed than its predecessor, A Thousand Suns, which took the term “experimental” to a whole new level.  Furthermore, though most of Living Things’ songs feature personal, metaphorical lyrics that Linkin Park are so known for as well as their layers of power-chords, the more house-music-oriented style of their new songs throws off the familiar-to-new ratio, and somewhat subtracts from the overall standard of Living Things.

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