Right after I bought LP’s new album from HMV, my buddy TK asked me, “So how’s Linkin Park’s new album? They sound the same right?”. The problem is if I am asked to give opinion on an album that I have hardly listened to, you will probably get an insignificant opinion. That night I answered, “Ya, afterall it is Linkin Park”.
I was wrong. On the surface, LP’s new album has their trademarks all over it. Deep inside, they have changed quite a lot and they have prepared their fans for that right from the first page of the booklet that comes with the album – “As this is written, the album is not yet finished … it is safe to say, however, that this will prove to be a different kind of album for us”. Their first album “Hybrid Theory” – an old name for the band – was a decade in the making. Their 2nd studio album was inspired by Meteora, a historic monastery in Greece. Both “Hybrid Theory” and “Meteora” were huge commercial success around the world (funny when you look back when no record company wanted to sign them up). One time, Cynthia and I drove up to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia just to watch their concert. “Minutes To Midnight” is a reference to the Doomsday Clock … an album that the world was not ready a few years back. Sure, environment topics such as global warming and mass/voluntary extinction of mankind are hotter today than it was then.
LP’s uniqueness lies in the rock rap combo encased in the nu-metal setting. It is still unique as of today. No one has quite master the perfection of the way how Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda sing and rap and finish each other’s sentences. So, the big question is: why the change? Mike rarely raps in “Minutes To Midnight”. The analogy is like when Kirk Hammett of Metallica has decided not to play guitar solo tracks anymore in their latest album “St. Anger”. Both these two albums have hit the top of the chart – the power of fan anticipation I believe.
Another noticeable difference is that music-wise, it is more mellow down. “Minutes To Midnight” would not be a good debut for the band. But since LP has a good repository of great upbeat songs, their concerts will still be electrifying. Besides having more slow songs, LP has also stepped away from their nu-metal formula. As you will see in their 3rd single “Shadow Of The Day”, it sounds a lot like U2’s “With or Without You”. You can even sing “With or Without You” during the playing of “Shadow Of The Day”. The melody of the beginning verse of “No More Sorrow” – a great track by the way – reminds me of Depeche Mode’s “Strangelove”. It is kind of strange that LP, a band that did not sound like any other band has gone for a change and begins to sound like some other bands. The change does not stop where the melody is. There is even a guitar solo at the last song “The Little Things Give You Away”. It is rare to hear a solo track in nu-metal, more rare so for LP.
Their first single “What I’ve Done” is a great track from the album and I suspect that this powerful video will win some awards this year. So another big question: do I like “Minutes To Midnight”? Sure I do because I can understand why bands at times venture out of their comfort zone to create something different and I in general am supportive of such change – like REM’s “Monster”, U2’s “Zooropa” and “Pop”, and Metallica’s “St. Anger”. But I cannot speak on behalf of the majority of LP fans though.