Reviewed! Linkin Park - "A Thousand Suns"

Linkin Park
“A Thousand Suns”

Well, if you’re reading this, then you should have at least a modicum of understanding that Linkin Park has never really been the band to stay the course in terms of style when recording new material. Suffice to say, no two LP releases are the same. While the argument could be made that the closest they have come would be their debut “Hybrid Theory” and subsequent follow-up “Metora,” but while the two discs have certain similarities (structure, vocal aesthetic), though even then it was clear that this band was one ready to expand their horizons. Fast forward to the present, and enter the bands fourth studio release, “A Thousand Suns,” which easily slots in as Linkin Park’s most expansive and most experimental work to date, a sound and overall style that’s essentially light-years beyond the nu-rap-metal sound the band first cashed a paycheck performing.

“A Thousand Suns” offers a continuation of the atmospheric expansion the band put in motion on 2007’s “Minutes to Midnight,” effectively taking things to the next level in terms of sound. Most, not all, of the bands heavy elements have dissippitated, vanishing into the ethers, as it were, of the rest of the record. “A Thousand Suns” is a sprawling affair, a description that becomes much more apt following a few spins. It is absolutely their most ambitious work to date, an artful display of LP’s ever-reaching talents, no better displayed than on cuts such as ‘Burning in the Skies,’ ‘Robot Boy’ and the world beat infused euro-club vibe of ‘the Catalyst.’

As has not been the case in recent memory, Mike Shinoda is prominently displayed vocally. As a matter of fact, it is when the wordsmith mans the microphone that “A Thousand Suns” burns brightly (‘When They Come for Me,’ ‘Wretches and Kings’). See ‘Blackout’ for Shinoda’s lead counterpart Chester Bennington infusing a bit of punk electronic into things, then flip to ‘Iridescent’ for a sweet and subtle offering of what the two can do together.

This record is by no means perfect. While the sampling and dissonant noises are admirable, filling the air when need be in and working out for the most part in the spaces in which they’ve been placed, there is no denying that “A Thousand Suns” offers far too much filler (see ‘Empty Spaces,’ ‘Fallout’). Sure, these types of atmospherics are essential to an album such as this – they make things seem more grandiose and ostentatious – though in the grand scheme of things, they are most passable.

There’s no doubt that “A Thousand Suns” is a career defining-type work for Linkin Park, though in the end it begs the question – where will the band go from here? Only time will tell.

Grade: B-
Listen to: ‘Wretches and Kings’