I think that judgment on this album will be rather unanimous regardless of whether you love it or hate it: This is not the Linkin Park that brought us Hybrid Theory and Meteora.
Inevitably, that becomes either a good thing or a bad thing. If it’s a good thing, you call evolution or growth. You may also label the album experimental. If it’s a bad thing, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call them sell outs or even has beens.
Fortunately, I like what I hear.
The band has definitely gone out of their way to tell everyone that this album is different. That’s an understatement. Their lead single, “What I’ve Done”, has the closest resemblance to their old sound but even that is radically different. Gone is their “nu metal” sound but fortunately, these boys can rock! It’s a catchy anthem track and shows that the band belongs in the ranks of the great rock stars — and that could be taken both ways. This is a band that spoiled us with defying genres every time.
Then again it can be said that they’re defying genres on this album, specifically the very genre they made for themselves. This becomes most apparent in the third track “Leave Out All the Rest” which is a slow, mid-tempo ballad that still sounds Linkin Park but feels more like Sum 41. I hope that didn’t come off too badly since I actually like that track a lot.
Mike Shinoda raps full time in two tracks in the album. Luckily, both “Bleed It Out” (which some are dubbing their catchiest song ever) and “Hands Held High” are anthemic, with the latter sounding like it belongs in a CNN special. Seriously.
This album doesn’t hit as hard as their previous albums. Although “No More Sorrow” is a powerful, politically-charged track that is half Green Day and half My Chemical Romance. (Is that a good thing?) The rest of the album is surprisingly quiet, but with lyrics that deserve to be listened to such as in “In Between” and “In Pieces”.
So if you’re expecting the next Hybrid Theory or Meteora, this album will disappoint you. But if you’re looking for the next Linkin Park, this is it. They’ve grown up, matured and improved as musicians. Not all will like that since change comes with it.
But I like change. I like it when bands surprise me, and this album is definitely one such thing.