The listening party we had was from 5pm - almost 8pm tonight. It was partially video taped on camera & photographed and we were told might be used for a future LPTV clip on the bands website site and on their Youtube channel. Jessica and Adam from LPU were the on-hand coordinators for this special event. We were taken to the second floor into a listening room. We were also joined by LP's Managers and quite a few WB record execs. We were also given a 4 page survey to fill out for each of the songs; our initial reaction and our rating for each song, our top fave songs, etc. We were told that aside from the band members, their family, a few record execs and a few music journalist...we were the first "outside" people to listen to the album and that this was a special occasion to remember. And it really was!!! The album was played from beginning to end in a dimly lit room while we ate pizza and drank soft drinks.
Now about the album... The album is sick!!! Simply put, I was blown away!!!! If you take all the good elements of every Linkin Park album and mash them up, you get a lot of the sounds that create 'A Thousand Suns', yet there is a new refreshing way that they have created these layers of sounds; a sound that is very hard to describe. There is something on this album for every LP fan. There's more Joe Hahn scratching, electronica, hard beats, etc...Mike does some of his best rapping especially on the hard hitting, hip-hop inspired 'Wretches and Kings' which was a favorite among the group of us. The beat on this track is awesome; def makes you want to move. You also get Chester doing his screaming/singing on 'Blackout' minus the scatting you hear on the LPTV video. That song just about showcases all the guy’s talents! Rob is also captured drumming nicely on a few tracks much like on 'The Catalyst'. The only musical element missing was the loud guitar riffs from Brad and Phoenix like you heard on 'Hybrid Theory'. Their parts are lost/blended more into the layers of music but they are there.
My fave track was 'Waiting for The End!. It was insane!! I can't wait for that track to be released! Mike raps with conviction and Chester blends in his singing. The music is a fusion of Beck-style beats, electronica with a reggae-rap vibe. Sounds crazy but it was so good and it works!! All the LPU members there agreed it was one of the best songs. I asked and the Warner Bros head person in attendance, Grover (didn't get his last name), confirmed that this would be their next single!!! The moment I heard that, I got excited and I told Grover and everyone there, that in my opinion this song WOULD BE a number #1 hit for them on the radio and the song will become a “classic” for them. Everyone there nodded their head and agreed. The opening title song is called 'The Requiem'. It's an amazing little piece - but its more of an instrumental interlude than an actual song and it opens up with the verse from 'The Catalyst' "...God save us everyone, where we burn into the fire of a thousand suns...." but sung very slowly and in an almost feminine Enya-like voice (we were blown away when told it was Mike's voice but tweeked). That opening interlude gave me the chills because I knew I was being introduced to a special sounding album. The album builds on this opening song and goes into a story-like selection of songs ala Pink Floyd. The interludes were short and almost unnecessary. They were not your classic LP instrumentals. Instead, they used powerful sound-bytes of speeches made by Martin Luther King Jr and one sounded like JFK, yet another one was in Latin (Jornada Del Muerto) which I could not understand. These interludes reminded me of ‘Enigma’. Again, these interludes were not really necessary but they were "interesting" and used nicely to tie some of the songs together so it gave the album a more 'interwoven' feel. In my opinion, 'The Catalyst' was one of their weaker songs (after listening to the whole album) which is great news for some fans who have been gripping about how "different' they sound. I’m now very surprised that they released this as their first single. 'Iridescent' was their most "vanilla" song. It was a soft, slow, beautiful song but not very "experimental" like the other songs on the album. It sounded like it could have come straight from the Minutes to Midnight CD which is not a bad thing. The only song I disliked was the last one called 'The Messenger'. It was a stripped down acoustic-like lullaby sung by Chester. It almost sounded like a Brett Michaels 'Poison' song. I guess every great band needs to sing a lullaby but I just felt the album should have ended with a stronger song. However, one of the LP members made a good point and mentioned that the album takes you on a musical journey of layered sounds and finally leaves you with nothing in the end which is why that song fit in with being so plain and stripped away of sound. These were my faves in order:
1. Waiting for the End - their next single - rap/electronica, reggae fusion. Amazing stuff! Easily a # 1 hit.
2. Wretches and Kings - Fort Minor mixed with LP - Shinoda rapping at his hard-hitting best. Another hit! You’ll probably hear this song remixed a lot by Hip-Hop DJ’s. BTW - this is the song you hear in the middle of 'The Meeting of a Thousand Suns' trailer that was just posted! The sweet electronica-bass beat is why I say it's "hard-hitting".
3. When They Come for Me - another smooth sounding multi-layered rap/electronica song. Reminded me of stuff produced for the 'Blade 2' soundtrack but BETTER!!!
4. Blackout - Chester doing his classic screaming thing along with everyone else showcasing their stuff (Mr. Hahn scratching, Brad and Phonenix on guitars, Mike singing/not rapping and Rob on drums). Will be a hit BUT the last half of the song slows down which confused many of us as to why they changed the tempo of an near perfect old-school style LP song.
5. Robot Boy - an awesome slow song sang by Mike - very multi-layered & unique sounding. My fave 'ballad/slow song' of the album.
6. Burning the Skies - the first real song on the album that introduces you to the new LP sound. Great song.
7. The Requiem - the best intro/interlude on any previous album of theirs - much better than 'Wake' or Meteora's Intro. Mike's feminine-like voice will give you the chills because it sounds so unique.
To sum it up....This is not 'Hybrid Theory 2' nor do I think there will ever be after listening to this album. But that is good news....This album has ground-breaking stuff! They are moving forward with their sound and not "backwards" as Warner Bros head Grover put it. The band has evolved into a whole new level of musical maturity and just like they re-invented music with their first album, they have done so again with the unique blend of music on "ATS'. The world has no idea what is coming their way with this album and its going to come at them fast and hard!! This will be one of those "important-ground-breaking albums of our time". I dare to say that this album is probably their best ever and one of the best by ANY band or solo artist - artistic-experimental-wise! The lyrics are poetic and world-influenced (some group chanting, tribal sounds) and the beats are unique and cerebral...you can dance..mosh...rap and sing..to these songs. You will see what I mean when their second song, 'Waiting for the End' drops. This song defines what this album is about!! If you can make the special invite to next week's Multi-media Laser light show Listening Party...GO!!
Tonights listening party ended with a Q&A session on our opinion of the album. All but one person liked the album. 2 were indifferent. We then requested that they replay 'Waiting for The End, Wretches and Kings, Blackout and Iridescent', which were the songs that everyone loved. They did and at that point, EVERYONE agreed that at second listening, the songs just stood out as being special and insanely good. Then, Grover brought out the two versions of the CD/album (a plain jewel case version and the foil/shiney deluxe version that is on the LP website for pre-sale) and let us browse the booklet and covers. They told us it had just come in from the factory and we were the first peeps to see the new CD. After this we asked about next week's listening party event and here was the scoop on that...we were told the Listening Event for next week is going to be in a big venue (not yet chosen but based on how many LPU members request tix) and everyone should be getting email confirmations on the details of it "in a few days". They said it was being produced by Mike Shinoda and will have a lot of multi-media imagery, pictures and art to go along with the laser show. Its suppose to be a very artistic and sensory listening experience. A few of the band members will be on hand to answer questions from a select few LPU members, afterward which will be broadcast. They are still not sure how these LPU members will be chosen for the Q&A part. We were all invited back for this listening event as well...lucky us!!
To go along with our experience, we were given a WB Records gift bag. In it I found 2 'A Thousand Suns' promo posters, 3 LPU pins, an LPU bracelet, the Breaking the Habit DVD/CD combo and full, unwrapped copies of Reanimation, Road to Revolution, Collision Course and Live in Texas!!! But of course, no copy of the new album since it will not be released until September 14th. The listening event ended with a brief thank you to us and we left just before 8pm.
In closing, I want to thank LP and LPU, Linda, Jessica and Adam for this amazing once in a lifetime experience! In my opinion this album will solidify Linkin Park as one of the greatest bands of all time and perhaps this being one of the greatest albums of all time. I’m lucky to have been a part of the pre-celebration!! I hope everyone enjoyed this review....