Here it is. Linkin Park’s sixth studio album. 2012’s ‘Living Things‘ was not half-bad so I was interested to see which direction one of my favourite rock bands was headed with their next outing. When Linkin Park released their collaborative track with Steve Aoki last year, fans were worried if Linkin Park would go all electronic on their new album.
Quite the contrary. ‘The Hunting Party‘ is the most guitar heavy Linkin Park has been since they released 2007’s Minutes to Midnight. That said, when the first single “Guilty All the Same” was released a few months ago, I wouldn’t say I was very pleased upon hearing the track. Anyway, my thoughts on the rest of the tracks on the album are below.
1. “Keys to the Kingdom” – What a way to kick off the album! Chester Bennington screams right off the bat. Ha! Mike Shinoda handles much of the verses, including rapping… before Chester screams the chorus. It’s a weird track no doubt, but this should give you a good indication about what to expect on this album. Some fans labelled it punk, some heavy metal… I wouldn’t say either. Heck, I don’t even know where to place it. It’s rock, that’s for sure. – 3/5
2. “All for Nothing” (featuring Page Hamilton) – Ahh, don’t you just love it when you Mike kicks off a LP song with a kickass rap verse? This is a great track featuring Page Hamilton who sings the chorus, and even features a guitar solo (even though it’s nothing special). Hey, guitar solos are rare on Linkin Park songs. – 4/5
3. “Guilty All the Same” (featuring Rakim) – I didn’t like it much when I first heard this songs and months later, my opinion hasn’t changed much. I’ll appreciate LP trying out new sounds, but this song feels raw (probably intentional) and it’s really not a track I find myself listening to much. – 2/5
4. “The Summoning” – Just a minute-long interlude. Sounds creepy though.
5. “War” – As soon as the guitar riff hits, I had a smile on my face. Then Chester sings. Wow, what a beast of a song! Absolute screamer of a track. It’s one of those songs that sounds awesome on record but may not make it to their concert set list every night because it’s going ruin Chester’s already abused throat. Great track though. – 4/5
6. “Wastelands” – The beats, the riff and the rap all sounded promising — but when the chorus hit, the song somehow felt generic. That’s all about I can say about the song. – 2.5/5
7. “Until It’s Gone”
If there’s one track on this collection that reminds you of the “old” Linkin Park sound, it would be this song. It’s structured like you would expect from a Linkin Park “signature” song. The backing hook, the guitar riff, the sing-along chorus, atmospheric — all good. That said, on any other prior Linkin Park album, this track wouldn’t have made it as a single. But given how the other tracks on this collectionsound, it’s understandable why the label would have insisted on making this the single. It’s familiar. – 4/5
8. “Rebellion” (featuring Daron Malakian) – Daron is the guitarist from System of a Down, so if this song sounds inspired by SOAD, now you know why. That said, “Rebellion” was one of the few songs on this album I loved instantly upon first listen.A song to get pumped to! – 4/5
9. “Mark the Graves” – The beginning (and bits) of the song does remind you of “Blackout” from A Thousand Suns, but the rest of the song is nothing like it. Just when you think this is another heavy track, Chester’s verses lower the volume… for a bit. The ending is all loud, guitar solo and Chester screams. It’s not a bad song though, just quite a mish-mash. – 3/5
10. “Drawbar” (featuring Tom Morello) – For those who don’t know, Tom Morello is the awesome guitarist from Rage Against the Machine, famous for his playing style and the sounds he comes up with on the electric guitar. “Drawbar” is an instrumental and a rather somber interlude to lead into the next track. – 3/5
11. “Final Masquerade” – If you were seeking a power ballad on this album, this is it. I like it, although it feels a bit dated — in the sense it could have even appeared on MtoM. It’s even got the quintessential “woah oh oh” bit for that concert sing-along moments. -3/5
12. “A Line in the Sand” – The final track is a big one. At 6:35, the song packs in fast-paced guitars, screaming vocals, thumping drums, and towards the end — all three, before closing with Mike Shinoda. A fitting close to the album in my opinion. – 3/5
After three albums produced by Rick Rubin, ‘The Hunting Party’ is an album largely self-produced by Mike Shinoda and guitarist Brad Delson. I’m guessing “hey, let’s make this guitar-heavy” suggestion came from Brad 🙂 And why not? Rock is dying on mainstream music charts as it is and if a mainstream band can bring back heavy riffs on radio, I’ll take it.
I really liked A Thousand Suns and I don’t mind if Linkin Park does a similar concept album in the same vein with future releases. I’m someone who is quite open-minded with musical tastes. I listen to every possible genre of music out there, from boy band pop, K-pop to heavy metal… and Coldplay. I’m not ashamed about it. I like diversity and I accept the fact professional musicians are no different. I only question Linkin Park’s promotion of this album. I really don’t know why they chose to promote “Guilty All the Same” — quite possibly one of the weakest tracks on the album — as the lead single. It really put me off and lowered my expectations for this album. This is an album quite a departure from their previous releases. While ‘Living Things’ tried to bridge the “old LP sound” with the new, ‘The Hunting Party‘ is throughout a hard rock album with a very organic sound. Poor Joseph Hahn doesn’t have much of a role to play on this one (but will do live in concert, obviously). Sure, many songs end with some kid’s chatter and weird sound bytes but they did the whole interlude thing with the last two albums as well.
Fans have been complaining about Linkin Park “changing” for the worse for quite a few years now, but I guess you can never please some people. For those who appreciate change — and rock music — ‘The Hunting Party‘ is a good album. It may not be the band’s best album till date of whatever, but it’s still a Linkin Park album worth adding to your collection. Only if your collection of music includes varied tastes.
My final rating for ‘The Hunting Party’ – 3.5/5 (Pretty Good)