Last week one of my favourite bands released a new album, A Thousand Suns. Although only their 4th studio album, Linkin Park have released many other albums including an EP, remixes, mash-ups (with Jay-Z) and live albums. The two singers, Chester and Mike, have also released solo albums in the last few years. Many people associate Linkin Park with their first two albums – Hybrid Theory & Meteora – being loud, teenage angsty screaming mixed with rap and heavy guitars: but this album is a whole new kettle of fish. In fact, were it not for that fact that I can recognise Mike and Chester’s voices, I would not have guessed that A Thousand Suns was by Linkin Park at all. It’s in a whole new genre – it’s not quite rock, it’s not quite hip-hop, it’s not electronica either – but it certainly borrows from all of these. It’s even a little bit Post Rock. No more screaming (well, one song), instead a lot of melodic tunes mixed with interesting techno sound effects, speaking parts and voice changes.
The album is meant to be a sort-of concept album about nuclear war/war in general and certainly needs to be listened to as a whole album and not individual songs. In between the songs are recordings of famous speeches including Martin Luther King Jr and J Robert Oppenheimer, which just sound silly by themselves but make the album come together. I think it’s fantastic – not the Hybrid Theory part 3 I was secretly hoping for – but a really different and exciting sound. A Thousand Suns also sees a welcome return to songs with both Mike and Chester singing/rapping together on the same song, which was desperately lacking in Minutes to Midnight where the songs were either sung by Chester or rapped by Mike with little in between.
When They Come for Me is a perfect example of the band’s new direction. It has a great drum beat, and a very Middle East feel to it. The chorus, and later on in the song contain Arabic-sounding singing (sounds a little like Kasabian’s Cutt off actually) and it’s just awesome. Robot Boy again has quite a strong beat to it but this one is really electronica based. Some of the tracks have a bit of a reggae/Jamaican feel to it, none as obviously than Wretches and Kings (Waiting for the End is a little reggae too). The chorus for some reason reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean, and I personally think it’s the best song on the album. Overall I really think this album will appeal to a huge audience, and those who dislike Linkin Park’s old style will be pleasantly surprised.