Linkin Park – ‘A Thousand Suns’ album review

When I wrote my take on the first single off ‘A Thousand Suns’ — “The Catalyst,” some of the comments I got disagreed with my opinion, while some… well, just ranted without even making sense of what I wrote. What I did write was that I liked “The Catalyst,” and though it was very different from anything they had done before, I was still willing to listen to the whole album before I judge the direction Linkin Park was heading.

Linkin Park A Thousand Suns album cover review

'A Thousand Suns' album cover

Since “The Catalyst” debuted, the comments online have been 50:50. 50% saying they hate the new sound and praying Linkin Park wouldn’t go all electronic. The other 50% saying they welcome the new sound and will always support Linkin Park because they feel it makes them “a real fan”.

Well guess what. The first 50% are going to be disappointed with ‘A Thousand Suns‘.

The sound is nothing like you have heard from Linkin Park before. If you are expecting anything close to a formulaic LP song structure from the Hybrid Theory-era, forget it. You won’t find it here.

Yes, it’s heavy on the electronic drum pad sounds and there isn’t a whole lot of ‘guitar’ on A Thousand Suns. But does that mean this album sucks and it’s end of Linkin Park as we know it? No.

Track by track review (ratings on a scale of 5):

1. The Requiem (2:01)The album opener with lines from “The Catalyst” sung in a female voice

2. The Radiance (0:57) – interlude with a speech soundbite

3. Burning the Skies (4:13) – The first full-fledged track. A rather somber mid-tempo track with vocals sung by Chester Bennington and U2-esque guitars kicking halfway through. (3/5)

4. Empty Spaces (0:18) – another interlude

5. When They Come For Me (4:55) – Probably the only song from A Thousand Suns I can see drummer Rob Bourdon getting to really play his drums. This track belongs to Mike Shinoda on the vocals and features a heavy eastern-sound. (3.5/5)

6. Robot Boy (4:28) – I don’t really expect to hear the band perform this song a whole lot, not in its entirety anyway. It maybe over 4 minutes long but sounds like an extended interlude. (2.5/5)

7. Jonarda Del Muerto (1:34) – interlude (yeah, there’s a lot of that in this album)… but this time in Japanese — despite the title being Spanish. Go figure.

8. Waiting For The End (3:51) – When Chester sings the first line, it sounds like sounds the same as Elbow’s “On a Day Like This“. Still, after hearing this I feel like Chester’s getting bored of screaming the shit out of his throat and sometimes just wants to sing. Confirmed by the band to be the second single. (3.5/5)

9. Blackout (4:39) – At first I was like :) … then I started nodding my head… and then I was like :D… and then it stayed like that until 2:12! My favourite song on the album! Oh, and about Chester getting “bored of screaming,” I take it back. (4.5/5)

10. Wretches and Kings (4:15) – The second track released online. I didn’t like it when I first heard it last week, I don’t like even now. It’s not a great song but it is the closest to a Mike Shinoda-rapping verses, Chester-singing chorus combination you’ll get on A Thousand Suns. (2/5)

11. Wisdom, Justice, and Love (1:38) – another interlude with a speech soundbite

12. Iridescent (4:56) – A Chester Bennington ballad that will sound better live. (3.5/5)

13. Fallout (1:23) – the last interlude of the album

14.  The Catalyst (5:39) – The first single off A Thousand Suns and one of the best tracks on the album. Once you hear the entire album, the placing of “The Catalyst” in the track list makes a lot more sense. I’m SO going to sing-along to this live. (4/5)

15. The Messenger (3:01) – An acoustic song on a Linkin Park studio album. Yup. (3/5)

Conclusion:

I’ll reiterate, A Thousand Suns is going to be a huge disappointment for some “hardcore” LP fans, and to other “real fans,” they’ll appreciate the effort even if they don’t like it — if only to show their support. Which camp do I belong to?

Neither.

I love Linkin Park. In 2000, ever since I heard “One Step Closer,” they were my favourite nu-metal band — the genre label slapped on to bands like LP and the genre kick-starters Limp Bizkit. I owned the latter’s Significant Other and Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (loved both) but I still felt Hybrid Theory was a better example of a fusion between rap and rock . (That and the fact Fred Durst sounds like a wuss compared Mike Shinoda’s rapping)

To me though, Meteora (2003) remains my favourite Linkin Park album. It was a good showcase of all Linkin Park could do at the time — be it the (still)awesome “Faint,” great rock ballads or even songs like “Breaking the Habit“. But then they decided to hire legendary producer Rick Rubin and sought a more organic sound for their third studio album. Fine, I’m all for experimentation if the outcome is still good music, but outside of favourites “Bleed It Out,” “Hands Held High” and “No More Sorrow,” Minutes to Midnight was a disappointment for me.

Like many, I too was hoping for a return to ‘form’ (more Meteora than Hybrid Theory) but I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.

A Thousand Suns is yet another attempt by Linkin Park to try something different. Some will call this a step in the wrong direction but I’m going to commend LP for it. Thought the track list numbers 15, only 9 are proper songs — and I still prefer A Thousand Suns to Minutes to Midnight. And yes, like my previous post, some commenters will call me “crazy” — but it’s okay. This is the internet, people can call me whatever their immature mindsets churn out.

I’m someone who listens to a wide variety of music. From classic rock to pop, from trance to easy-listening, from 90s hip-hop to even korean pop — my ears are all open to good music. I’m sure the members of Linkin Park are like that too. Some metal fans just can’t seem to comprehend their favourite musicians actually appreciating genres outside of the ones that made them famous — but like it or not, it’s nothing new. Real musicians (and music lovers) don’t restrict themselves to just one single genre.

Everybody has the right to listen to whatever pleases them. I’m also not the kind of person who goes around calling Justin Bieber “gay” just because I don’t like his music (btw, I don’t like his music). And just like I never lost any love for Keane (one of my favourite bands) because they too broke away from their “signature sound” on their third album, I’m not going to lose hope on Linkin Park either. I’m still going to buy this album. If not for how much I liked it, at least so they continue to make music — and more importantly, one day tour India.

Linkin Park A Thousand Suns band new photo

Linkin Park will eventually get back to a sound that made them world famous. They all do. It’s just that, after 50 million in album sales, a loyal fanbase on every continent, 2 Grammy awards, Linkin Park are in a position to do what they like. While they may lose some fans with A Thousand Suns, Linkin Park will always have an army of supporters large enough to keep them rocking.

In The End, that’s all that really matters.

A Thousand Suns final rating: 3.75/5

Disclaimer: I reviewed this album based on an illegal download. I’m still going to buy the album when it’s officially out in India and if you want to better the chances of seeing your favourite band tour your country, I’d suggest you do the same. Album sales are figures used to draw an artist to a particular country.

EDIT: I finally got my copy of ‘A Thousand Suns,’ the CD + DVD edition.

Linkin Park A Thousand Suns CD+DVD edition packageThe DVD features a 30-minute behind-the-scenes ‘making of’ documentary. It was okay.

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  • Manas Shukla

    Even i’m waitin for the album to release in india…….just wanna buy it!

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    September 16th is the release date for India. Looking around to see if any Special Edition is releasing here.

    [Reply]

    ankur chauhan Reply:

    no, 15 September is the release date for india

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Okay, I checked online retailers and most said 16th. Anybody selling special editions?

  • http://randomgeordie.blogspot.com Lee

    Saw you link to this on Mike’s blog about an album review, and I must say yours is a excellent take on things. I agree whole-heartedly with everything you said (except that maybe Minutes To Midnight is better than you say, but opinions are what make us unique!) and for that I shall follow your good self. I myself have just finished listening to my copy and I LOVE it. The Catalyst is amazing, and I too will be singing along come November 5th (Newcastle, UK).

    I look forward to more reviews :)

    Geordie.

    [Reply]

  • Eduardo

    Por dictamen this gracias yo buscaba Como ordenar mis ideas y Como expresarlo correctamente lo ha echo tu y gracias Por mi

    y llegado un solo Pensar Que lo Hacen Por El Dinero

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    I don’t speak Spanish but thanks for your comment anyway :) Using online translators I take it you appreciated my opinion on this album and Linkin Park.

    [Reply]

  • Ashwin

    Hey man…Nice comprehensive review..!I’m a diehard LP fan!!REally waiting for the release in India,i’ve resisted downloading it online..
    And yeah from what i’ve heard the reviews are divided :( but will always welcome change from LP..I liked minutes to midnight as well,but it wasnt as great as meteora and hybrid..!Anyway will comment after listening to the songs!

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  • Cold

    i know exactly what this guy feels about music.

    when i was like, five years old, i heard the song: In the end. my best friend and i loved it. after little time, we could sing along perfectly. and when we hear the song on the radio, we look at each other and know exactly who does wich voice. its a thing that binded our friendship until the end…

    now i’m on my way to become a great artist (singer), and it’s all beacause i heard THAT song. i didn’t know that music could be so touching. it hit me like a bullet… i felt tears coming up when i readed: … In The End, that’s all that really matters.

    keep it up guys! :’D

    [Reply]

  • Srinivas

    A great review, but I really think you have been a bit too harsh on some of the songs. I mean, Iridescent only a 3.5? It’s their best song ever.

    I hope they never return to the old formula. I tried listening to some of their old stuff after I heard ATS, and I ended up deleting all of it. The same verse-chorus-verse, power chords, distorted guitars, no wonder Linkin Park got bored with it.

    I think Minutes to Midnight was a good album. Not as good as ATS, but a good one nonetheless. It was a lesson in experimentation, and how far you can go when you move out of your comfort zone. And the result of all that is their best album, and maybe one that stands a good chance for all those awards.

    btw, Is the album out in India? I know it said 15th, but neither Crossword or Planet M have it yet.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    “I mean, Iridescent only a 3.5? It’s their best song ever. ”
    Well, that’s your take on it :)

    Yeah, I’m sure they got bored of their usual song structure. I’m sure they will return to their “old sound” but it won’t be exactly the same. I wouldn’t mind more tracks like “Faint”.

    I’m going to check out Landmark tomorrow and update the post if I get my copy.

    [Reply]

  • Swetha

    PROS:
    Nice Balsy Approach and a Great creative album…great Percussion arrangement and real good tracks (Blackout,When they come for me,The catalyst,Iridescent,Waiting for the End & The Messenger)

    CONS:
    “BRAD DELSON & PHEONIX IS MISSING IN A THOUSAND SUNS RECORD”…lol
    5 Interludes???….a bit too much???
    WRETCHES & KINGS & BURNING IN THE SKIES…crappiest??

    Conclusion:
    ATS – Genre Non specific Electro + Beat Driven Record but has some brilliant experiments done and outstanding tracks(NO TRADITIONAL heavy RIFFS & Screeming)…This record for sure not a dissapointment.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Yeah, I really thought the interludes were a bit much.

    [Reply]

  • http://deleted Kimberly

    sorry ppl couldn’t control my desperation and ended up downloading the Lp A thousand suns album but waiting for 16th for Cd release in koramangala Bangalore. My first impression was
    that i downloaded a wrong album that has lp tag…but no its the ORIGINAL ATS!!!…i listened 3 r 4 times and found the album the most epic and creative lp album and sure to be massive hit in the world charts but with there is no strong guitars nor Nu Metal parts which used to be linkins trademark. As the previous comments its really like “whereeesssss Braaaaad Delssssonn???”

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Hello fellow Koramangala-ite :)

    I actually went to Landmark (at Forum Mall) today morning and asked them if they had the new CD as I didn’t see it anywhere. The shop assistant checked their database and they had 143 units in stock but nothing on display! I saw the CD + DVD package in their database as well but it said ’0′ in-stock. I placed an order for one and they’ll let me know when it arrives. Rs. 595 for the CD + DVD pack and Rs. 395 for the regular CD. No special edition with t-shirt or anything :/

    Agreed, while the songs sound great on CD, I’m keen to know how they’re going to sound live.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly Reply:

    ya evn my sisi checked today morning tht the cds & dvds are yet to arrive….my mate called me from chennai as the ATS cds & Dvds are already available in chennai…the only thing to be happy about is that there was a ATS banner and Lp Posters in Landmark today morning…\m/Kim

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Really? I didn’t even find the posters anywhere. Maybe because I went as soon as they had opened (before I had to go to work).

  • http://www.youtube.com/deatharhin70 Mahin

    When i first Listened THE CATALYST is was good.
    Then came WRETCHES AND THE KIND ‘ it was really
    good… A bit old LP. Then WAITING FOR THE END ‘
    CHESTER’S PART WAS JUST LIKE ^%#^# . Then
    WHEN THEY COME FOR ME’ IT HAD GOOD DRUMS!!
    BLACKOUT the most AWESOME SONG !!!!!!!!!
    ROBOT BOY was the worst song !!
    i thought it would be like cure for the itch but ….$&^*&^

    it better buy ht or meteora !!

    [Reply]

  • Apratim

    Dude .. Whats that Across the Line Album .. I guess thats better than A Thousands Sun .. Especially the Song Announcement Public Service and the Title track ,,

    [Reply]

    $$ Reply:

    ” Across the Line” is from the album “Under Skin.” I only liked ” The Catalyst” & “The Requiem “. M2M was quite good, and i never anticipated this much change from LP. Also BHANGRA bits on “When They Come For Me” almost gave me the impression that it was a fake LP track!?! I didn’t find this album enjoyable at all. Guess the old LP style is lost…

    [Reply]

  • J smith

    I really enjoyed the change from linkin park. I love hearing their experiments and changes. One song I’m surprised everyone dislikes is burning in the skies. For me this was lyrically powerful, and the music was smooth. For me the song was a nice change up. This is just my opinion of course. I also didn’t mind robot boy and the messenger. Chester doing acoustic was interesting and was welcomed by me of course. All in all I really liked the album, it was like a collaboration of LP and they’re solo projects and previous music; a real LP meets grey daze, fort minor, and dead by sunrise if you will. If in most peoples opinion, this is their “worst” album; linkin park is a lock for best band ever.

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  • tyler j

    This album blows big sack of monkey nuts.. First thing I’m in a heavy nu metal band I play bass and I love linkin parks old stuff. I appreciate good music when I hear. In fact I love country r and b rap john mayer blues you name I listen to it. But this is crap electronica. There’s no more raw emotion that drew me the old lp.. This album makes me feel like they’re not caring about the fans and caring more about themselves and satisfying the critics.. Look around there are really no more bands like old lp. Take that back there are and never be a band that sounded like they did. They lost that magic they had.. I hope that they go back to who they wear a violent emotional and just plain bad ass metal act..

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  • Sambit

    I downloaded the songs. But I’m gonna buy the CD. I need to hear all the songs more minutely. During the first time I was playing in on shuffle, I got a bit confused about the direction LP was trying to head to. But after the second play session, the music invade my mind. Every time I hear it, I find it more amazing. These guys are just the cream in what ever sort of music they do. Lyrics are awesome. The songs (or should I call’em a single track) gives me the feeling of refraining myself from all the jostle I face each day, sit back, think what wrong steps I’ve taken, what could be the possible outcome of them. This work of LP makes me just not bang my head and throw myself in the middle of a mosh pit but also makes me think!!!
    Kudos LP…you lived upto the expectations once again!!

    [Reply]

  • Kookie

    This review hit on the musical aspect of the album, but it failed to hit on the artistry. I’m stunned that no reference was made to the lyrics, which are truly phenomenal and of course, the theme. This album isn’t really a compilation of songs, but a story in itself. Linkin Park has finally grown and forgotten their angsty ways to deal with ‘real’ matters. I loved Linkin Park when I was younger, but now, I’ve learned to respect them. A new capacity to appreciate for me and a new capacity to deliver by them.. Amen to A Thousands Suns.

    [Reply]

  • Shane

    I love your review! It’s very open-minded. I can’t wait to get A Thousand Suns. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  • Daniel

    Spot on about “Waiting for the End” sounding like Elbow’s “On A Day Like This”. I had to do a Google search to find anyone else that heard the same thing. Good, I’m not nuts…………

    Both good songs by the way.

    [Reply]

  • baldev

    this album is really different and really a good one i have no complaints about it .I have been waiting for it for a long time then i had to illegaly download it. Sorry LP, its not my fault, u r so irresistable

    [Reply]