“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odeous, that you’re so sick at heart, that you can‘t take part, you can‘t even passively take part. And you‘ve got to put your bodies upon the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the aparatus, and you‘ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless your free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
— Mario Savio
“If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one.” … “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”
— J. Robert Oppenheimer
(recalling the Bhagavad Gita)
Im really liking the new Linkin Park album, A Thousand Suns. It has taken a few goes, but it has now grown on me greatly.
It is unique, but the album has some of their old sounds. There is a wide variety of influences that seem to have made their way onto the alum. There are more elements of their previous works, more like Hybrid Theory and Meteora, especially compared to their previous album, Minutes to Midnight. Though they have tied in the softer elements from that album, they move forward into a new sound that is distinctly theirs. A couple of tracks are even a bit tribal with elements of eastern music, and a few songs have even taken from the current electronica sound.
After the first listen, it seemed disjointed. I could take or leave it, but after a few runs through the album I realise there are many levels, there is a message or a story to this collection of songs. The album is like a journey. Taking the listener into a political and social commentary, hopefully pointing out some of humanities high and low points. There are excerpts from speeches which help to draw the listener into the messages they are conveying. These “joining tracks” which appear between the true songs really emphasise the ideas being conveyed, and enhance the journey.
Starting out fairly soft and introspective with tracks like Burning in the Skies, which is reminiscent of songs from Minutes to Midnight (particularly like Shadow of the Day), the album jarrs you with heavy tribal beats in When They Come For Me. Drawing you in to their creation, the album moves into a political commentary and a personal one about how people can stand up and fight when they need to (IMHO). Ive always been a fan of slower anthems, and Robot Boy is a classic. I was initially a little dissapointed to hear these soft tracks, as I had missed the harder “nu-metal” sound of their older works. But I was not to be left wanting.
Waiting for the End starts, and I found myself starting to breath a sigh of relief. Here is a song that illustrates what these guys are about, and even the title is a reminder of previous tracks they have written. Its a build-up song, hinting at the tracks following.
Blackout IS classic Linkin Park. It takes us another step into their harder sound and message. This song will get people moving. Again – Mr Hahn has woven his magic into the track, taking scratching, mixing, electronica, and blended them together into something new, something that works.
Wretches and Kings is a cornerstone of the album, and continues with this direction, mixing a huge number of elements together to make a heavy sound that is quite unique. The quote I put at the start is highlighted in this song. IMHO this song is telling us to stand up and fight for whats important, even if we are worn out from all the conflict.
I really like what they did with the “joining track” called Wisdom, Justice, And Love. You’ll just have to hear it. It slows things back down, giving us a breather between some energetic tracks, before leading into Iridescent. This is another anthemic buildup song which I quite enjoy. The build-up takes us to The Catalyst. Another classic Linkin Park song. Referencing the Bhagvad Gita, this track has the lyrics which gave the album its title, and with good reason.
The final song on A Thousand Suns is The Messenger. A slower and rather touching song. Not exactly a romantic track when you listen to the lyrics, but it is about love. It finishes the album off, leaves us feeling introspective and thoughful. At first I thought this track was a bit of an odd ending to the set, but its a good message to leave the listener with, and it frames the intent behind the other tracks nicely.
Overall, I feel they have managed to leverage off the style that made them famous, and have even created their own new sounds with some of the tracks. Mike Shinoda has a bigger singing / rapping part, something I also feel was missing from Minutes to Midnight. As mentioned before, it was great to hear Joe Hahn also has a bigger role in this album. Chester’s singing and playing are as always excellent, and the Dave, Rob, and Brad provide solid ingredients to the mix, finding new ground for their performances.
A Thousand Suns works. The album has more of a flow to it, and listening to the tracks in order is a definite. To over emhasise this point, do not put this album on random order until you get to know the songs. They really have created a journey in music. I suppose I had pretty mixed expectations after Transformers soundtrack, which I was a little dissapointed in. But this album is growing on me by the fourth listen, and Im wanting to keep playing it, so its defintely worth the money.