I know some of you guys have been patiently waiting for this album for almost a month (me too), but it has officially leaked today and you can stream it over at iTunes (in full), over here. I also do know that most fans tend to wait until the day of release to listen to it whole, but I just couldn't resist. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my review for Linkin Park's sixth studio album, The Hunting Party. These reviews are opinion-based, so let me know what you think in the comments or tweet me; I appreciate it.
For those that didn't know because I really didn't talk much about it here, I have always been a big fan of all the Linkin Park records, except for maybe Minutes to Midnight. It's natural that the hype will emerge as it did 2 years ago when the band released Burn It Down, which probably was not expected considering the direction that they had taken with A Thousand Suns. That isn't to say that Living Things wasn't an amazing record. Yes, it had flaws. And so does The Hunting Party. But the main question is, does it live up to the expectation of a Linkin Park album everyone desires? Yes.
Long story short, the album is great in many aspects and key areas, most prominently the guitars and drums. But before I venture hard into some of the things that I consider amazing or great, we'll take a look at some of the crashed weights that came along.
Obviously, the lyrics are pretty much seemingly a non-factor in the album, either really underused or just simply reused. But you could see that glimmer of promise, and you could see that spark of potential in songs like Until It's Gone, Rebellion and to an extent, Final Masquerade. While people see lyrics being slightly less under the overall music to the track, I cannot help feel that it is always possible to bring that creativity side to lyrics considering A Thousand Suns, politically charged, had proven that Linkin Park can write fantastic lines, but maybe they weren't trying to be extensive for this record.
Next, the issue I have is probably Joe and Chester's work on the album. Chester's vocals I probably am more understanding to now than I was a few months ago, but Joe doesn't seem to be doing much on this record. That said, the synths maybe do count, but the overall tracks are lead by mainly the guitars and the drums that hits hard and snares the attention of the audience more so.
Lastly, some of the tracks feel thrown in. They don't seem to match a certain criteria, but maybe because of it's broadened edge that has been comprised and fit to the album, it kind of suffices with it. They don't feel much, and they also don't weigh heavy either.
That said, after concluding and knowing the album's drawback (not a lot is it?), that's when the album immediately clicks. And hits hard.
When the album was pictured to be heavy and visceral, I had never imagined it to be like this. Keys to the Kingdom, War and All For Nothing are amazing tracks that are probably what the fans of the band have been waiting for for almost a decade. And yet, there are tracks that are for everyone, with Final Masquerade being a softer track compared to the rest. Still, the tight corners are what makes the album impeccable to listen to.
The production on the album from top to bottom is seamless. The chords, the riffs, the drums all fit organisingly well. That's when the album shines, with many of it's key instruments being a vital core to the tracks that made it work not only efficiently, but in damn near satisfying passion. Tracks like the singles, Mark The Graves and a Line In The Sand are some of the better examples that showcases the band's strength through opulent instrumentation that they dare to show and reveal.
Mike and Rob are probably the unsung heroes, with the latter more than the former. Mike's raps, although missing from the first few singles, has come out and hit hard on tracks like All For Nothing and Wastelands, whereas his vocal duo with Chester on most of the songs provide the continuation that happened back on Living Things, which was fantastic considering that their chemistry is amazing when put together. And it's really easy to say, that Rob was probably the unsung hero of the entire album. He never missed a beat with his drums, always on point, always hard and always on the forefront. He was never absent throughout and he brought half of the visceral edge along with him. Rob is amazing on the record.
The features do hit and miss agonizingly well. While I do think Rakim did a great job on the lead single, Paige Hamilton from Helmet doesn't seem to coincide with being proper. The track itself didn't really feel like a Linkin Park track to me, maybe considering that it felt a little out of place (but it segues well into Guilty All The Same). There was maybe nothing much that Daron Malakian could do considering he gave one of his signature riffs on Rebellion, a vocal or two would be nice, but I'm not mad that he didn't do it. Lastly, Tom Morello was forgettable, though he was probably tasked to do something slightly different, and Drawbar is a great track nonetheless when it hits the piano chords.
I also guessed that people had already figured out that Linkin Park had defined their sound two albums ago. The shift in tone from Minutes to Midnight to A Thousand Suns not only broke their chain of consistency, but it gave the band inspiration and life. In fact, there were callbacks to previous records. A Line In The Sand had the same drum pattern to Victimized from Living Things and Chester's vocals hammering just like With You back in Hybrid Theory. Of course, the guitar riffs are similar to that of Guilty All The Same, but the point remains: the band itself has a wealth of experience from the five albums that they have made in the last decade or so. Such diversity allowed the albums to broke free from being conceptualized, rather than saying 'modern rock needs to be altered to match its past' so that it is what it is today. The band doesn't need to follow the route. However, with a much heavier record, they are certainly going to attract attention that rock maybe soon back in business.
And while I mentioned that Chester's vocals seemed to have suffered in quality, I believed that maybe his sound did match what the album was looking for: a real raw edge. While his voice could be mixed in Living Things and A Thousand Suns, it showed on this album that he is still consistent albeit singing in an circumstances (Keys to the Kingdom showcases this extremely well).
Favourite Tracks: Mark In The Graves, A Line in the Sand, Wastelands, Rebellion
Least Favourite Tracks: Until It's Gone
The Hunting Party is essentially the album that both sides of the spectrum (the old fans and the modern fans) will love. People need to be reminded that the band will no longer go back to Hybrid Theory nor Meteora, but rather embrace the fact that the rock vibe is still kicking within this album. In a closing sentence, Linkin Park has delivered yet once again.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.