Linkin Park – The Hunting Party

Linkin_Park,_The_Hunting_Party,_album_art_final
You can tell how experienced a listener is depending how he reacts to the idea of going back to basics. There is no reason for big bands to shed all the influences they’ve accumulated and re-write their debut album. It’s a cheap move that just tries to drag old fans back becuase the band is too scared to keep moving forward. It did kind of work for Korn, but Korn were already weird from the start. We don’t need Linkin Park to go back to that rock sound. Living Things was good enough at pushing it further and giving us stuff like “Victimized”.

The Hunting Party doesn’t see Linkin Park going ‘back to basics’. It doesn’t even see them making a loud record that’s all about aggression. The Hunting Party is the result of listening to Helmet, Quicksand and At the Drive-In and thinking, hey, we’ll have some of that.

It’s not a complete Post-Hardcore record. Helmet is the best reference point, with the other bands not so much. It’s not just because Page appears on “All for Nothing”. His apperance actually makes perfect sense. You only notice Chester after the third time you listen to it, and it makes you wonder why they didn’t recruit the guy to sing the rest of the songs.

Chester doesn’t have it in him to be aggressive anymore. He was never a Punk Rocker. He might’ve made it if he channelled a little At the Drive-In. Instead, we get “War” and “Mark the Graves”. I understand ‘punk’ sounds really cool and not pop, but is that an excuse to put out “War”? There is actually a rumor going on that the band didn’t even record in themselves. They just put a few coins in “Punk Rock Song Generator” and this is what fell out. Apperantly. the rest of the budget for the album went for getting Page Hamilton on that great song.

“War” is the worst example, but Chester’s awful screaming is all over the place. If “Keys to the Kingdom” is your first Linkin Park song, you would fall into a crisis, wondering who let the guy in. “Until It’s Gone’ makes things worse. Apperantly, they had enough coins left for the Power Ballad Generator Machine. You can turn off the song as soon as he says you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

The good songs sound like they came from a completely different album. They have the same production job, but the approach to the material is different. Even a small idea like mixing rock and rap gets them inspired enough to write a great chorus like in “Wastelands”. “Guilty All the Same”, “Final Masquerade” and “A Line in the Sand” see them abandoning any pretense of making ‘real rock’ and just throwing whatever they have into the mix.

“A Line in the Sand” is the best example, with how it moves from ballad to punk to rap. It’s an attempt to mix all the previous elements into one song, but it doesn’t sound like a conclusion. It sounds like a leftover from A Thousnad Suns with more guitars. The same goes for “Guilty All the Same”. Its melodic guitar lines, Rakim’s guest apperance and extended length don’t make sense in terms of the concept. This isn’t the band making ‘real rock’ music, but just pushing themselves further because that’s what they do best.

Brad and Rob seem to be the most happy with the new sound, but they can’t care less either about the concept. They’re just happy to be behind the instruments again. The drums never hit so hard as before, and there’s plenty of moments where he tries to steal the attention from the vocalist. He gives Rakim a challenge in that long song he appears in. As for Brad, he just plays the best riffs he kept hidden away since A Thousand Suns. There’s a reason they released an instrumental of the album. Remove Chester’s annoying screaming and Brad’s riff shine on “Keys to the Kingdom” and “War”.

A special mention has to go to “Rebellion”. In a world where everyone tells the other to check their privilege, the band members acknowledge they haven’t faced oppression. They admit this whole rock music is an ‘imitation of rebellion’. This sort of maturity in political topics doesn’t appear in music often. Beyond ‘racism is pretty awful” and “I hate capitalism”, there’s not much to political music. Somewhere, Michael Franti is depressed because he didn’t write “Rebellion” for his masterpiece. Or maybe he ghostwrote it.

Linkin Park are still taking steps to their great album. The band will not make a classic until they will disappear to the genreless stratosphere occupied by Saul Williams. Every member of the band is talented, including Chester (When he doesn’t scream). They just work best when the ideas are pushed to the front, instead of just writing catchy songs and dressing them in cool sounds. Hollywood Undead are already trying to make it with Day of the Dead. It’s time for Linkin Park to quit playing around and drop another A Thousand Suns, but better.

3 hunters out of 5

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