This is as stated in the title, my thoughts on every album Linkin Park has released as of now. Feel free to leave your thoughts down below.
Hybrid Theory: The debut album that shocked the masses by making good nu metal. This is of course subjective, but it’s definitely one of the most unique and successful albums from that genre at the time. Linkin Park did what most nu metal bands didn’t - they focused on hooks and melodies, not just pure anger. Not that it was completely void of anger. In fact, this is Linkin Park’s angriest record to date. The album did succeed for a reason though. These songs were memorable and relatable. Sure, it hasn’t aged well, but it definitely aged better than Limp Bizkit, who in the adult phase of their lives insist on complaining about high school drama. The point is they were innovative in nu metal. Standout tracks are Papercut, Runaway, Points of Authority, and A Place For My Head, which I have to commend for the chugging guitars that open up the song. Although I have to say that the bonus track version gives us Linkin Park’s earliest sign of maturity; My December. This song is incredible with the pure emotion in Chester Bennington’s voice against the soft instrumentation and production. However that only makes tracks like Crawling, One Step Closer, Forgotten, and Cure For The Itch even more insufferable. The lyrics on One Step Closer are so petty, and honestly Crawling and Forgotten just sound awful. Cure for The Itch just honestly isn’t my thing with the whole “MR. HAAAHHHNNN” thing. I’d rate this album about a 7/10, not bad for a debut album though, especially in their genre of music.
Meteora: this album is incredibly different from Hybrid Theory. Everyone says this is a very similar record, but I would argue on the contrary. While Hybrid Theory felt like some angry teens who went in and recorded the best record they thought they could make, leaving a very rough around the edges sound, Meteora was huge and encapsulating. The sound became very well-produced and extremely heavy. The band started to get very environmental, creating a very expansive sound. The anger was even more present, but they started to include feelings of regret, suffering, and pain. They also started to use more instruments than just the electronics, guitars, drums, and other rock instruments. They used flutes, orchestral elements, and started to understand the place the turntables had in their sound. Standouts are quite hard to choose, as every song is good. But if I had to pick it would be Easier To Run, From The Inside, Hit The Floor, Breaking The Habit, and Numb. Yes, the whole album is great and so many songs could be considered the best. But while I like underdogs like Nobody’s Listening and Don’t Stay, they don’t fit the album’s theme quite as well as the aforementioned tracks. Don’t Stay is a lot more “fun” song than the rest, if it can be called that, and Nobody’s Listening is a very relaxed song where you see restraint in the anger Mike And Chester are expressing. But Breaking The Habit best shows the regret they started to express, as well as their shift towards new instrumentation with the chugging guitar running throughout the songs verses aside the orchestral section that highlights the song’s uniqueness in Linkin Park’s discography. Numb was a hit for a reason - it’s filled with relatable lyrics, great riffs, and just like In the End a piano lead. However, this song shines because, like Breaking The Habit, it focuses on Chester Bennington’s emotive vocal style instead of Mike’s furious verses. Easier To Run and From The Inside both follow the same pattern that made me love Meteora: huge guitars that surround the listener, emotional but simple lyrics, and Mike and Chester taking turns on the mic, focusing more on Chester. But when Mike raps on these songs he sounds in pain, in the best way possible. For me this album is a 9/10, for being an amazing album that is only held back because in comparison to later albums it isn’t as inventive. But it was the sonic shift in sound that made this album amazing and very promising
Minutes To Midnight: This album was the first major shift in sound. Meteora was a great change in the thematic elements and overall instrumentation, but that was an evolution more than it was a totally new sound. Minutes To Midnight showed Linkin Park had ambitions beyond the successful nu metal sound they had become popular for. This album shifted into a hard rock sound that resulted in a first for Linkin Park that was a very welcome change - they added guitar solo’s. No, really. Linkin Park went two albums without a single guitar solo. This is one of the best aspects of Minutes To Midnight too. They finally showed off Brad’s guitar skills. This album has one of the best intro tracks I’ve ever heard. Wake is a very abrasive track that has some of the most potent guitars I’ve ever heard on an introduction track, setting the tone for a great album. The track transition into Given Up, which shows off the new style in the vocal delivery and the guitar tones. The guitars her sound very rough, and when the track ends you’re pumped for another heavy song, but instead you’re introduced the the album’s pattern; a heavier, guitar driven song followed immediately by a softer, slightly more electronic song. This is present throughout most of the album (Leave Out All The Rest follows Given Up, Shadow of The Day follows Bleed It Out, In Between follows Valentines Day, etc.), but I have to say the new ability for Linkin Park to have a softer side was a welcome change. Speaking of welcome changes, let’s talk about thee vocal department. Mike only raps on two songs on the entire twelve-track record. That means Chester gets most of the spotlight on this record, a change which I was really happy about. Chester only sings, while Mike gets to rap, sing, play keyboards, and play rhythm guitar. Mike is also usually two-thirds of each song he’s on, leaving Chester kind of pointless to have, especially since Mike has proved he has some singing chops. I was really happy to see Chester get so much time on the mic in this record. The most disappointing aspect of this record was Joe Hahn though. He isn’t completely absent, in fact if I’m correct this is where he started to play keyboards in addition to turntables, but the turntable scratches are barely on this record. What I’ve Done does a great job of incorporating them into the new sound, but past that I have to say they’re hard to notice. Sure, Mr. Hahn handles all the electronic elements on the record, but I much prefer to hear his scratches to the bleak electronics on Shadow Of The Day. Brad Delson shines on this record, providing the amazing solo on The Little Things Give You Away. The best part of this record is the chemistry the band has together. To me, this record feels like the whole band wanted to make this record It feels like they all got together, sat down, and wrote music together. Not that they don’t feel like a band in other records, but this feels the most like a collective effort compared to some other records, like Living Things and A Thousand Suns. Overall, this record only suffers from an occasional lack of focus in both sound and lyricism. Does Linkin Park want to keep talking about pain and regret, or are they ready to get political? They don’t have a clear train of thought all the way throughout, not to mention they get a bit confused on the direction of the music when they just have to add in the electronic elements. However, It still for the most part feels cohesive, and for a sound that moved more towards Hard Rock and further from Metal, Linkin Parks ambition and maturity allowed for a near perfect record. Standout tracks include Hands Held High, In Pieces, Valentine’s Day, No More Sorrow, The Little Things Give You Away, and Given Up. I would include Wake, but it is only an intro track, although one I would definitely say is worth praise. Given Up has some great riffs underlying the chorus, and Chester has that seventeen second scream that is just killer. Valentine’s Day is just a beautiful tribute to Chester’s dad, and falls into the more emotional side of Linkin Park. In Pieces, Hands Held High, No More Sorrow, and The Little Things Give You Away are all on this list because they encompass the socio-political aspect of Linkin Park’s music that results in some glorious things, like Mike’s amazing rap on Hands Held High to the incredible guitar solos on In Pieces and The Little Things Give You Away. For me this album is a 9.5/10, for showing Linkin Park’s ambitions to get more political and to move away from nu metal, although it’s brought down by a short lack of focus just slightly present. If not for that it would be a perfect 10.
A Thousand Suns: This is the big one. The most controversial and polarizing album is Linkin Park’s discography. There is good reason too, after all Linkin Park ditched all aspects of their original sound and made something that was unrecognizable as Linkin Park, other than the vocals of Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington. The lead single The Catalyst was the first taste fans got of this new sound, and this was when Linkin Park showed the potential of the electronic sound they were aiming for. The song was bleak, dismal, and it rocked. The guitars were still very present, a rarity for this record. A Thousand Suns is also a concept record, meaning Linkin Park was carrying a theme throughout that would in some way affect the overall sound, lyrics, and general emotion. The theme was nuclear holocaust, at least that was the broad theme represented. A Thousand Suns also deals with themes of life, regret, and hope in the face of despair and destruction. The big problem I think a lot of people have with this album isn’t the fact that it’s electronic, not the fact that it isn’t nu metal, and not even the fact that it sounds nothing like old Linkin Park. Rather, they dislike the album for the fact that it’s bleak. The reason why this album polarized so many fans is because it isn’t anger, it isn’t regret, it isn’t just politics - it’s dismal, it’s more political than ever, and it’s all about the possibility of the end. The song Waiting For The End, no matter how eargasmic it is, is literally about waiting for the end, the end of one’s life, world, and anything else they care about. While this song, as well of the rest of the album, is very open-ended and could apply to any number of dark or depressing subject matter, it has that central idea about the nuclear holocaust, about the end of times, and about holding on to that last shred of hope. Situations like these lead people to say, “God save us, everyone.” This is a cry for help during the end times. May God be merciful and spare our lives in the end times. This bleak atmosphere leaves the album either really boring or really haunting. In other words, this album is not for the casual or average listener, but for someone who enjoys music that is thought provoking, artful, and maybe depressing. That’s not to say that there aren’t killer moments to rock out to, or times that are very uplifting. I said this album also focuses on hope in the face of despair, and that theme becomes evident with songs like Waiting For The End and Iridescent. While Waiting For The End may sound depressing on surface level, at least lyrically, you realize as you dig deeper that Chester is holding on to hope when he says, “I’m holding on to what I haven’t got.” He doesn’t have hope, he doesn’t have faith in God, yet he is holding on to it. He is waiting, waiting for the end of the world if you want to look at it in a bleak manner, or waiting for the end of the nuclear holocaust if you choose to hear how hopeful he really is. Iridescent holds onto hope in a different manner. The gang vocals in the bridge aren’t just stylistic. They’re a symbol of hope, of comfort found in each other’s arms. The collective hope we all feel as a society gets together after and during a tragedy. This is a true symbol of hope and beauty in despair. The Messenger represents a very different side of hope as well. The Messenger encapsulates the feelings of the entire album, and talks about how love, an explicitly human trait, will help heal the wounds of the world. This album isn’t just the story of tragedy, but the story of unity as a society, the story of mankind as they draw ever closer to world disaster and how they will band together to collectively recover from the most tragic events possible in the modern age. Sure, there are much better ways to have composed this record to have a broader appeal. But that would have prevented the album from being the fantastic piece of art that it was. It wouldn’t have been true to the vision that Linkin Park had. The concept to me will always be hope and unity in the face of tragedy and despair. Others will see it different. But to me, A Thousand Suns is a piece of art that should be treasured and praised. However, as previously stated, the bleakness of the record’s overall sound may cause some people to see a boring album not worth the forty-seven minutes of listening that is required to appreciate the album in its entirety. Of course some people complain about the interludes and transition tracks, which I understand since they are a good portion of the tracklisting. But to me, these add greatly to the album. Sure, I definitely see where the hate for Wisdom, Justice, Love comes from, but Jornada Del Muerto is a pretty good tune if you ask me, and some of the others are barely even thirty seconds long. I do agree that some of them could have been added onto the ends or beginnings of other tracks, but I listen to the album as a whole so that doesn’t really bother me. So, standout tracks are Waiting For The End, Wretches And Kings, The Catalyst, When They Come For Me, and Robot Boy. I explained lyrically why I love Waiting For The End already, but there’s a lot to it instrumentally. The simple piano keys being played throughout, the electronic outbursts during the high end of the song, the sheer energy that is built up to in such a perfect way. I could discuss this song for hours, but I’ll save that for another time. The rest of the album really did a nice job of keeping the standard rock elements incorporated into the electronic feel of the album. Wretches And Kings has a killer chorus, and is probably the most political song Linkin Park has released to date. The turntable solo really is the shining moment of this track though, as you see Mr. Hahn release every bit of ammunition he saved up during the recording of Minutes To Midnight. The Catalyst just rocks, and as a lead off single, it was probably the perfect choice. Although this track along with When They Come For Me is best at the end when Mike and Chester harmonize. It should be obvious at this point that I rate this album a 10/10.
Living Things: This album is no doubt in my mind the worst Linkin Park has ever released. But can you blame me for thinking so? I’ve warmed up to it a bit recently, but it’s still only a little over half worth your time. Some tracks with more organic instrumentation grew on me since my last write up, like I’ll Be Gone and Powerless. But Until It Breaks is still annoying along with Lies Greed Misery, Lost In The Echo is still formulaic in nature, and In My Remains and Roads Untraveled have some of the most atonal Linkin Park vocals ever, although I do admit the former has a decent performance from Chester and the latter has the best lyrics on the record. Mike brings both those tracks down. Castle Of Glass would be in that category if not for the great guitar work on that song. Victimized is a track that grew on me mostly because of the aggression on the track. Tinfoil is a decent interlude that leads into Powerless well, and Burn It Down is an amazing song still. Skin To Bone is easily the best song here, with the best guitars, vocals, harmonies, and other than Roads Untraveled the best lyrics. It’s as if they had a vision with this album that they wanted to make a record with that Skin To Bone sound, but decided on a halfassed pop-rock nu-metal hybrid album. I think this album deserves an improved score that is a light 6/10, and only a reccomendation if you thought A Thousand Suns was too deep and artistic and interesting for an electronic rock record and just want Linkin Park to cater to the mainstream audience. Sorry to sound harsh, but that’s my verdict.
The Hunting Party: Linkin Park’s most recent record, and honestly my favorite. While A Thousand Suns was artistic and beautiful, probably the most deserving of my praise and affection, I can’t help but love this side of the band. When they decide to cut loose, they show us that Brad Delson is capable of some incredible guitar licks, Rob Bourdon has some passion that he can put behind his drum fills, and the band can do angry in a mature way. There isn’t an example of a bad or disappointing song on this record. It’s not the kind of album that I have much to say about. Keys To The Kingdom has a screamed chorus, a very interesting choice in 2014. The guitars really roar on this song, as they don throughout this record. This is the first Linkin Park album that I would consider a metal record. That doesn’t mean Linkin Park went full on screams and guitar solos nonstop - although the latter statement wouldn’t be entirely incorrect - it means a heavier side of Linkin Park that was missing. Chester unleashes vocally, Mike gets angrier with his rapping, every member steps up to the plate. Although this is a record where I again didn’t see where Joe Hahn contributed a whole lot, but that just may be my lack of knowledge on everything he does for the band. The song All For Nothing I feel is worth mentioning in particular, because those who know me best know I have just recently started passionately listening to music, and this song was the song that made me truly appreciate guitars. Seriously, the riffs here just sound so fun to play, and really grip you when the song starts and don’t let go until Guilty All The Same starts. Speaking of this song, boy did Linkin Park hit it out of the park with this one. The verse from Rakim has been called lackluster by some, but to me it’s a very good verse. I don’t know if I would have preferred Shinoda here or not, but I do love trying to rap along, even though I always lose track of which line comes next. I also want to point out the song Mark The Graves, which is one of my personal favorite Linkin Park songs, and easily my favorite on the record. Brad Delson really does some spectacular work along with Dave Farrell on bass. Although I do like what Mike did on rhythm guitar as well. The harmonies on this song are eargasmic, and really a highlight. Chester shines on this song, during the softer verses, the amazing release on the chorus, and the great screams he unleashes. This song is something special, especially with the amazing lyrical content about reflecting on a dismal past. Overall, this album was a special release that we will never see from this band again most likely. For me, as can be expected, it’s a 10/10 and the highest of recommendations.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far. Please remember, these are all just my opinion. Music is subjective, and I’d appreciate some feedback as well. Some of your opinions, and maybe even some opinions about my writing and how I can improve. I’ll also probably edit this thread as my opinions shift naturally with the times.