Linkin Park – Living Things

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I must admit I look forward to any Linkin Park release. In my pre-teens I only listened to the odd popular song, but generally I thought I didn’t like any music. When I was 14, I discovered Linkin Park, who essentially got me into music. I had nothing else to listen to at the time, so it was all I ever listened to. Obviously over the last 5 years I’ve expanded my game, but I still love this band as much as ever.

Linkin Park’s first two albums, Hybrid Theory (2000) and Meteora (2003), were nu metal, the next two, Minutes to Midnight (2007) and A Thousand Suns (2010), were a departure from that sound. The band claims that their brand new album, Living Things, mixes elements of the albums that came before it, and when I listen to it, I can agree. Essentially, the album combines the energy of the old material with the experimentation of the new. Something to note is that the lyrical content of the album, as the name suggests, contain personal themes. This is much like the first two albums, but is a notable departure from the political content of the previous two releases, especially A Thousand Suns.

The album opens with my favourite track, “Lost in the Echo”. I can definitely feel the energy of the first two albums in this track. It reminds me of “Lying From You” and “Faint” from Meteora, but still sounds like something new. I definitely think this song, which will be the upcoming second single, will be a fan favourite, as it combines all the awesome Linkin Park elements – plenty of electronic samples, distorted guitar, Chester Bennington singing and screaming the choruses and Mike Shinoda rapping the verses. I can’t wait to hear this song live.

The next two tracks, “In My Remains” and the first single, “Burn It Down” feature amazing vocal performances by Chester with some great guitar work. Both songs have electronic elements that enhance the production of these tracks, rather than get in the way. The latter features a rap verse by Shinoda (which has rather cheesy lyrics) and he and Chester have a vocal call-and-response which will please fans for sure. The rapping continues into “Lies Greed Misery”, where Shinoda raps over a thick electronic beat with Chester screaming the choruses.

Then we arrive at a couple of songs with string arrangements. “I’ll Be Gone” sounds like a leftover from the Minutes to Midnight sessions that evolved. Like a lot of the songs from that album, Shinoda has no lead vocals or rap parts but aids Chester’s voice in the background. Following this song is the surprisingly effective “Castle of Glass”. There’s no rapping or screaming on this song, but both vocalists deliver mellow vocal performances that go well with the string arrangements that I found rather satisfying.

“Victimized” is another highlight of the album that springs out of nowhere. It goes for less than two minutes. It’s one of Linkin Park’s most aggressive songs in a very long time, and despite the short length, it manages to fit in two verses from Shinoda and plenty of Chester’s trademark screams.

“Roads Untravelled” features piano, which was heavily featured on A Thousand Suns. That’s not the only thing this track is about, as both vocalists sing “whoa oh ohh” near the end. I wasn’t really sure what to think of this song, but I can say it is satisfying to listen to. Skin to Bone isn’t anything new for the band, and is probably the weakest track on the album. The lyrics are fairly clichéd, as any song that contains “ash to ashes, dust to dust” would.

“Until It Breaks” sounded all over the place the first time I heard it, but it’s quite an interesting song. It’s weird but in a good way, like “When They Come For Me” off A Thousand Suns. The best part of the song, which is strange for me to say, is the section at the end that features the first lead vocals from Brad Delson, the band’s main guitarist. There’s something about his singing that worked really well for this song. I don’t think this is going to be a fan favourite, but it’s definitely worth a listen to, especially for the absolute hardcore fans like me.

When I heard that the second last track on the album, “Tinfoil”, was going to be an instrumental, I was pretty excited. I was hoping for something like “Cure for the Itch” or “Session”, but it turned out to be merely an intro to the final track on the album. It’s not bad by all means, and it serves its purpose well as it leads into “Powerless”, a ballad. This was a great way to end the album. It has great lyrics and Chester’s vocal performance is one of the most heartfelt ever. This track doesn’t break new ground for the band, but it is what it is, a really good song and I think it will be a single down the line.

Living Things delivers nearly everything a fan would want from a Linkin Park album, except for heavily distorted metal guitar parts. The guitar parts are there, but are softer, much like on Minutes to Midnight. Everything else you expect from a Linkin Park album are present: Mike’s rapping, Chester’s screams and soft melodic singing, DJ Joe Hahn’s scratching and sampling. That’s what the band does best, they mix rock, hip-hop and electronic music better than anyone.

If you’re a fan of old Linkin Park and despise the new stuff, I would recommend you listen to Living Things. It’s not a return to nu metal, but it captures the feeling of the old stuff. If you like newer Linkin Park, then I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t like this album. If you don’t like Linkin Park at all, then I don’t think this album will change your mind, but I still recommend a listen, because you never know. If you’re a hardcore Linkin Park fan like me you should already own the CD. I still recommend the album to the rest of you have never listened to Linkin Park before, because Living Things is a very good album. It sounds like a Linkin Park album, but it’s something new as well, and you know they are the only band that could deliver it.

Living Things is better than the last two albums, but it doesn’t stand up to the first two. I rate Living Things 4/5. See below for the tracklisting, with my favourites in bold, as well as the music video for the lead single, “Burn It Down”.

1.

“Lost in the Echo”  

3:25

2.

“In My Remains”  

3:20

3.

“Burn It Down”  

3:50

4.

“Lies Greed Misery”

2:27

5.

“I’ll Be Gone”

3:31

6.

“Castle of Glass”  

3:25

7.

“Victimized”  

1:46

8.

“Roads Untraveled”

3:49

9.

“Skin to Bone”

2:48

10.

“Until It Breaks”

3:43

11.

“Tinfoil”

1:11

12.

“Powerless”  

3:44

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3 comments

  1. Great review! I honestly lost hope in Linkin Park for awhile due to my personal thoughts on their last 2 efforts but when I heard “Burn It Down” I hoped at least some of the album would contain similar tracks and it ended up being their best since Meteora. I also wrote a reviewed on my blog, though I’m new to reviewing it points out my personal views.

    1. Hey, I’m new to reviewing too, but a big thanks to you for your comment! I’m glad you’re back in the Linkin Park camp and I really liked your review. I do like the last 2 albums, but I definitely like Living Things a lot better, it sounds a lot more like Linkin Park. And yes, it’s no Hybrid Theory, but it certainly sounds great. I can agree with you about the structure of the album being in two parts. Most of the more different songs were placed in the second half. I think you and I can agree that Linkin Park are back doing what they do best!

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