Earlier today, Linkin Park released their new song 'Heavy' from their forthcoming record, One More Light. The song is receiving a pretty polarizing response from fans of the record for it's very new and poppy sound. Something that Linkin Park has never been, however, is the same. Every album from Hybrid Theory to The Hunting Party has been starkly different from one another.
There isn't a single album that is bad, though. Whatever Linkin Park tackles, they exceed at with flying colors. Whether you prefer the angsty rage of 'One Step Closer' or the urgent, apocalyptic warnings of 'The Catalyst,' Linkin Park has something for everyone to enjoy. Their fifth album, 2012's Living Things, is one of the most glaring examples of why Linkin Park are the most versatile band ever.
What's unique about Living Things in Linkin Park's catalogue is that rather than taking the old elements and using them as a reference point for starting something new, this album takes all of the old elements of the band and brings them together into one group. You will hear influences from every corner of Linkin Park's discography on this album, and even hear the first predecessors of the album that followed it, too.
The electronic influence is perhaps most noticeable on this record. While Meteora and Minutes To Midnight were much rawer albums that didn't really tread in any form of electronica, both Hybrid Theory and A Thousand Suns are founded upon electronics. Perhaps electronics aren't the first thing you think of when thinking of the band's powerful debut, but they do play a major role in what makes that album so timeless. All the same, Living Things makes use of them in strong ways. Opening track 'Lost In The Echo' brings the album to an electrifying start, the triangulating synth pulsing as powerful kicks jump in to bring the song crashing in. Mike Shinoda delivers strong verses with a conviction in his voice, before Chester Bennington joins in for a powerful chorus. The breakdown of the song showcases Joe Hahn and his turntable abilities, samples of Chester screaming ringing angrily above the glitchy instrumental. The song concludes with an epic climax, Chester screaming "This time I finally let you go" again and again to bring the song to a huge end.
That's only where the album starts. There are plenty of different numbers on this album that exhibit similar energies. The angry rage of 'Victimized' rolls with huge drive, the relatively calm first verse kicking into a gnashing chorus that is immediately followed by a badass verse from Shinoda. The same visceral energy can be found in the trip-hop-esque track 'Lies Greed Misery' that bounces with a more positive tone to it. These tracks are referenced as some of the first tracks that later inspired The Hunting Party. Final track 'Powerless' is a growing epic, it's transition from instrumental track 'Tinfoil' smooth. It begins with dramatic pianos and Bennington's almost somber vocals as he tells, "You hid your skeletons when I had shown you mine / You woke the devil that I thought you'd left behind." The song grows with a sad optimism in its choruses, before the epic bridge comes in with strong guitars and epic croons from Shinoda that soar under Chester's cries of "powerless."
There is a poppier side to this album, too. Lead single 'Burn It Down' became one of the band's most popular songs to date, it's synth intro and fun composition lending itself to be an instant pop rock hit. Other tracks don't follow quite as poppy of a direction as 'Burn It Down,' like 'In My Remains' with its more alternative sounding vibe. This song is a prime crossroads between electronics and alternative rock, guitars ringing in the choruses while keyboards and a programmed beat make up the verses. 'I'll Be Gone' is similar in this right, too, as it is a much more alternative track that finds the right balance between the two roads. The song 'Roads Untraveled' perhaps does this best, the album's piano ballad that moves somberly above piano chords, chiming bells, and Shinoda's quiet recollections. The song explodes in its choruses with confident guitars and massive "woahs" with seemingly hundreds of harmonies backing them.
Living Things isn't absent from some more abstract songs, though. The only song that really is unique sounding to this record is the single 'Castle Of Glass.' The familiar synth intro is still present, but something about it's folky textures and story-telling nature really give it a sound that's unique to this album. 'Skin To Bone' is similar in its gritty, folky texture. It's a pretty haunting track, almost industrial in nature with its metallic synths. 'Until It Breaks' is a hip-hop track, reminiscent of Shinoda's Fort Minor. It has three distinct parts, with a final, more soothing part sung by guitarist Brad Delson.
The variety of this album is almost unfathomable. How can such a diverse record feel at all paced or even connected? That's the magic of Linkin Park. No matter what they try or what kind of soun they take on, there's always a sense that the music they make is intrinsically theirs. Linkin Park's Living Things proved they are the most versatile band in the world because all of these different sounds were brought together with such stark differences, but you could tell it was the same band. No matter how they evolve, Linkin Park will push the boundaries to their limits and stay true to themselves.
Favorite Tracks: Lost In The Echo, Castle Of Glass, Roads Untraveled, In My Remains
Least Favorite Track: Until It Breaks
Rating: 93 / 100
Buy or listen to Living Things here: