Verdict: 3 / 5
Linkin Park are known for breaking the mold, fusing together genres that don’t often blend, rap and rock or metal and electro-pop. As they so boldly declare on their single Burn it Down, they are “building it up to break it back down” – a statement that best describes their latest effort, their fifth studio album. In Living Things, arguably their best work to date, the band continues to expand their sound, calling on modern effects and more mature influences to create one of the year’s best albums.
Living Things, an unlikely metamorphosis, shouldn’t come as a big surprise considering that none of the band’s previous albums are alike. Although various members of the band have stated that the album is “back to roots”, there is nothing conventional about the twelve track record. Nu-metal clashes with hip-hop and electronic elements in gorgeous production to create the evolutionary identifiable sound that is common to the band’s previous works. While Linkin Park certainly have their eyes on the future, the leap doesn’t warrant a new audience or a change in genre. Bennington and Shinoda prove to be an interesting vocal team once again – one focused on singing and screaming melodies, the other on delivering dynamic rap flows with hard-hitting lyrics. The two pass the mantle between tracks, which seem to prominently focus on heartbreak and loss – in, undoubtedly, the bands most personal album to date.
The album opener Lost in the Echo, a head banging track crammed with hip-hop and euro-pop elements, sets a good tone for what’s to come. The groaning synths and crunching guitars blend in to create a huge, overwhelming sound with unique new samples that have been added to the bands musical library. It enters familiar territory with a big screaming chorus and soaring, pulsating vocals led by Bennington, followed by heavy rap lyrics by Shinoda. “I don’t hold back, I hold my own/I can’t be mapped, I can’t be cloned/I can’t C-flat, it aint my tone.”
In My Remains and Burn It Down, the lead single off the album, LP continue to successfully fuse and balance electronic synths with classic old school. The songs go from the dark guitar and drum heavy anthem Lies Greed Misery to the folk and country inspired Castle of Glass and Roads Untraveled, to the metal inspired Victimized, to the pop friendly Skin To Bone and finally ends on the piano-ballad Powerless. “I watched you fall apart and chased you to the end/I’m left with emptiness that words cannot defend/You’ll never know what I became because of you/Ten thousand promises, ten thousand ways to lose.”
Living Things is truly a great album which puts them back into their own skin. It’s a good summary of what Linkin Park is capable of. How I wish I had booked for the Cape Town concert!