A few artwork shots from the Alpharetta show. It was some seriously great stuff and definitely brought the experience to a whole new level.
Fast forward a few years, and we’re counting down to A Thousand Suns. You’d think after Minutes to Midnight I would have learned to expect the unexpected from this band… But I was in for the biggest surprise Linkin Park had thrown at me yet. I’d heard The Catalyst (and the hundreds of fan remixes), and I’d heard pieces of Waiting for the End and Wretches and Kings. When I put the album on to play, however, I still couldn’t have been more confused. I remember honestly thinking at one point that I must have gotten the wrong album. Not that I didn’t like what I heard; it just wasn’t what I expected to be hearing. I eventually decided that this was the right album after all, but I had the feeling that I was missing something. Kind of like when you read a particularly profound short story or other piece of literature, it felt like the purpose was escaping me. So I listened to it again. And again. And more times than I care to admit. By the end of the day, I was in love. Of course, I still hadn’t fully grasped everything the album had to offer, but I knew that was the point. This album is the musical equivalent to a great work of literature—the more you listen to it, the more you get it. The more you get it, the more you love it. It is the fine wine of the alternative rock world, and I feel that even that label is difficult to apply to this genre-bending work. Needless to say, my infatuation with Linkin Park was reignited with this album.
The lyrics hold dual meanings in many places, applying to both one-on-one relationships and the threat of nuclear apocalypse. The sounds are incredibly varied throughout the album, yet each track holds to a consistent theme—to not listen to this album all the way through at least once would be a pretty serious crime against the arts and against yourself. This album came out over one and a half years ago, but I still listen to it on a regular basis. Honestly, Linkin Park has never made anything on this level before, and I know of very few other bands that have created anything even in the same league as this particular album. To me, this is incredible proof of the band’s maturation as artists. The artwork, themes, and even music videos—every element of this album cycle has been above and beyond anything I would have ever expected from the same band that brought us Hybrid Theory (not that I don’t love Hybrid Theory as well, of course). It’s been an incredible experience, personally, as I feel the band has evolved at exactly the same pace as my own musical tastes. Every album they’ve released so far has been exactly what I was looking for at that particular time. I don’t see this album being outdone as “best album ever” in my eyes, but I certainly hope this trend continues.
Also a fun fact: If you didn’t already know, “Try the Ketchup” is a silly pun from this album. It’s not in one of the songs I have listed up above, but I strongly encourage tracking down the album one way or another. Give it a listen and see if you can find it!
Now to look forward a bit. As I write this, we’re currently sitting just a couple weeks away from the release of Linkin Park’s latest album, Living Things. We’ve heard a lot of things about the album, as the question on everyone’s mind has been, “What the hell are they going to do this time?” A common analogy used by the band has been that of a toolbox. Before now, they were throwing a new set of tools into the Linkin Park toolbox with every album. When they went to create a new album, however (especially beginning in the Minutes to Midnight cycle), they would refuse to use any of the old tools—anything that sounded like what they had done before. This forced them to think outside the box, push themselves creatively, and create new tools to expand their sound. The idea with this album appears to have been to not only create new tools once again, but to return to the Linkin Park toolbox and allow themselves use of previously used “tools” where applicable in order to create the most well-rounded sound possible. It sounds like a great theory to me. From the review released so far, it’s sounding like the album has a unique sound all its own (of course), but that the earlier tracks on the album harken back to their older styles, while the later listings stretch out into the more ambient A Thousand Suns style.
Honestly, I’m pretty excited to see how this thing turns out. The first impression reviews so far have had nothing but good things to say, and some have made some especially bold statements, calling Living Things easily the best Linkin Park record as well as one of the best rock albums in years. I’ll wait to be the judge of that myself, though this is Linkin Park we’re talking about. While the new album may not dethrone A Thousand Suns from its special place in my heart, I’m sure it’s going to be yet another great release. We only have two songs from the album so far, and these are back-to-back tracks from early on in the track list—meaning we’re not seeing the more obscure stuff yet. There’s even talk of some folk influence on a couple songs, so I’m definitely pumped for that! I’ll be posting a full review of Living Things once it releases. I’m looking forward to seeing the direction this release takes the band in, and I’ll be quick to share my thoughts on just that. Look forward to it!