A Thousand Suns: A Review
I was there when it happened, and hence I want to pitch in my view.
I am, as you would say a Post Meteora Hardcore Fan of Linkin Park, but I will try my hand at a totally bias review. A general review. A neutral understanding.
The Story So Far.
Linkin Park is a nu-metal/rock band from California; at least that’s what they were till ATS. Don’t ask me this, Wikipedia serves better.
They had a record breaking debut “Hybrid Theory” in 2000. That made the difference that stays to date. An Inspiring yet similar sounding “Meteora” in 2003, that carried the appreciation of HT till some effect. They released “Minutes To Midnight” that poured in mixed reviews, but in fact was a very good album – Musically, at least.
However, it set in the pattern of change that was to be elaborated over ATS.
A Thousand Suns . What Does it Have?
One Intro, 5 Interludes and 9 tracks
A format of this sort is a clear eye catcher. It might not be the best million-album-selling theme, but it definitely paves the way for a little distinction.
It also has apocalyptic, yet uncomplicated artwork, and a 2 year production process.
i) The Requiem : Eerie and needed
Intro Reading – [* * * ½ ]
The intro, that seems fitting when listening to the full experience combined with The Radiance. Very simply put – it is just a good intro, slow buildup and natural blend which points in the direction the album will go. The mech female voice that sings “God Save us everyone” provides the apocalyptic feeling. Not much musically, but in depth a useful introduction.
ii) The Radiance : Builds well, only on a full experience.
Interlude Reading – [ * * * * ]
A continuation of the intro holds the first speech of Robert Oppenheimer about “The destroyer of the worlds” This is a well put interlude, with fitting effects and responsive drums in deep background, which sets in a powerful feeling on the complete experience.
All the interludes seem pointless while shuffling, but on the full experience they do play a passive if not effective part.
The radiance however puts in the effect of the high target of this album. The seriousness and the high end attempt.
iii) Burning In The Skies: Beautifully Filled
[ * * * * ]
In Short : Starts slow, ends better. But has the “drag” factor.
In terms of musical appreciation this song deserves nothing less that a standing ovation, clearly because of its serenity and beauty. Though it does sound a bit of a mid-track album, and might make the listener crave for Chester’s recognized scream, the whole song as a whole is a very good composition. The quitar snippet in the middle, is definitely worth mentioning. This song is on the softer side of the album, but also on the better tracks too.
iv) Empty Spaces : Not Needed Really
Interlude Reading- [ * * ]
The shortest interlude that has crickets and war scenes in the background.
Creative, yet not very necessary.
v) When They Come For Me: Priceless, Super Creative.
[ * * * * * ]
One of the major tracks, and prominent trump cards of the band.
In Short : MASTERPIECE.
There is nothing much to say about this, this song is absolutely magical.
Beginning with a little marching-tribal beat that moves on to a melodious traditional jungle sound. Its hard to define the beat, but it does come close to the teen-maar beat.
Mike turns up the spotlight with one of the swagger filled swell raps, that were heard in “Bleed It Out”. The chorus is just a middle east sounding “Ahhh” but it certainly give this song erotic distinction, and licks all over the goddess of creativity.
Chester does enter abruptly, but his passion filled verse does fit in this song, and it does provide the climax of this rhythm. The song ends brutally, but the ending is sort of required because it would not do any other way.
vi) Robot Boy: Serene
[ * * * * ]
Ironic to its name, it has well sounding pleasing music. Its sort of song that feels magical, beautiful to some, but unneeded and boring to some.
Honestly it isn’t bad, but agreeably well crafted. However, more than the music, the lyrics are well made. Speak of inspiring phrases and helping lines.
Soft, nice and listenable.
vii) Jordana Del Muerto : ?!????!!???!!
Interlude Reading- [ * * ]
Admittedly, pointless and silly. Proves unnecessary, with the electronic tune.
Why not put in a power guitar solo ?
That would have killed it. Had much hype, that made it worse.
viii) Waiting For The End: Smart
[* * * ½ ]
Wonderful and lazy ballad, that hits with a quick intro, and leads up well.
Formatted aptly, and delicate yet sweet chorus. The Mike – Chester switch, is a little erratic though. Also I found the inner/main beat of the song real low, and too simple.
To counter this was the real sweet mouthwatering guitar riff, and correct matched ending.
ix) Blackout: Profoundly Intense
[ * * * * ½ ]
Highly energized, highly powered and highly intense. Power-packed and gory, cruel and incredibly VIOLENT. Fact of the matter lies that Chester gives his best in the Hybrid Theory smelling, heavy hard hitting arrogance. It smells badly of this. Absolutely reeks of the earlier success formula. However, the lyrics spoil the game.
The lyrics don’t just fit the song, they don’t fit the album. The other version of the chorus on LPTV really would have murdered the competition. Why speak of betrayal by your significant other in a apocalyptic tasting buildup. The song amazingly soothes down into a Coldplay-feeling ending. This is the Linkin Park factor that was needed.
To me it felt like the growth of a teenager, highly arrogant/violent/rash turn into something calm/solemn/responsible. Overall it’s a song intended for older fans, and might not be registered by Post M2M fans. Once more, hats off to the electronic beat, and Joe’s work.
x) Wretches And Kings: Moderate Effect
[ * * * 1/2]
At what sounded like an absolute burner at first hearing, this song fades gradually and does the opposite of growing on to you. Aimed at the power bomb effect that was felt in Blackout, and also injecting a metallic luster to the sound of the album. Holds the “Machine” speech from Salvio, it succeeded in providing that luster, but it seems rusted. Mike takes on yet another form of slow reggae rap, which just manages the work, though not magically. Chester’s chorus had potential but sort of did not work as well as planned. However, the song has a good pattern/ structure adopting traditional chorus-verse streams. Brad performs well, so does Joe Hahn. I could feel him scratching and working his talent in restoring the incredibility of this song.
xi) Wisdom, Justice and Love: Fitting.
Interlude Reading- [ * * * * ]
A wonderful, well placed interlude just like The Radiance, which opens out the album even further, and is a real treat on the full experience. Holds the renown “Wisdom Justice and Love ” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. The voice turns deep and alien like and feels just right for Iridescent to open up.
xii) Iridescent: Mystic
[* * * 1/2]
Heavily layered, and plays on gloomy notes that slowly yet stably turn into something really happy. Begins with a sorrowful piano note, and Mike fills in again with a free voice. Chester gives the lyrically adorned chorus –
“Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope but failure’s all you know…
Remember all the sadness and frustration…
And let it go”
The “Vanilla” effect adds on with a decent guitar solo near the end. The choir singing the chorus in the end really does work its magic. The song does not lose its foundation when the music turns up a few notches in speed. In fact, the slow to fast transformation is on of the better moves in this song.
xiii) Fallout: Points back, but Why ?
Interlude reading- [ * * ½ ]
Not really required, but this poses a confusing judgment. I cant quite make out this song, if you mange to do please inform. Much appreciated.
This song indicated the importance of the chorus of Burning In The Skies, but Why?
There has to be a reason, cause if there is not. This song is as pointless as Jordana Del Muerto.
xiv) The Catalyst: Pure Adrenaline Rush
[ * * * * * ]
Serves its duty as the PERFECT lead single, which directs and steers the album into appreciation. Works extremely well, with never-a-dull moment potent. Hold a key position in the album, as the Captain of the Ship. Heavily layered, both electronically and with powerful yet soft chords.
It starts off on the first lyrics heard in The Requiem. The precession and rhythm is multi-effective and modestly erotic. Could pass off into many genres and cults.
Rob performs the drum ending really sweetly, and Joe places one of his most HIP sounds in the intro.
Chester performs extremely well, and the song has of the best lyrics in the whole song: Post-apocalyptic and eye catching, with a magical feel to it.
The Catalyst did exactly as its name suggests, and much more.
xv) The Messenger: Stripped Passion
[ * * * ]
Naked, stripped and burned of all music except a acoustic guitar, a piano and a man singing post-weeping. This song is one of the most peculiar songs that will continue to mystify and is placed at the end of the journey, and it could fit nowhere else. This song helps create the distinction Linkin Park has held, unlike millions of other bands.
The perfect metaphor of this song is – Paralympics.
Heavily disabled, both musically and vocally yet it never fails to create the perfect end to ATS. Feels to me like a broken athlete, that gives his sore best, and is applauded even for his 15.2s for a hundred meter.
This song also has post-end/ aftermath type feeling, when The Catalyst closes the intensity of A Thousand Suns, and The Messenger’s lyrics provide a short aftermath.
Peculiar and daunting.
A Thousand Suns: Super Dramatic. Super Distinct.
[* * * * ½ ]
New-age, happening, connective, passionate, intense, energy filled, creative and totally worth it. Maybe not the best lyrically, as they have always been.
However heavy reliance on piano and electronic depicts another heavy shift in their music, and sometimes changes are not needed. However, this time Linkin Park get away as being called “Smart” rather than “Tried too hard” sorts. A Thousand Suns will work with the better critics. The references to the “Bhagvad Gita” , Vedic scriptures, the atomic bomb, machine revolutions, and takes on wars depict a full fledged effort from the band, which we should not forget are rich millionaires.
It would be much easier for them to provide HT or Meteora sounding album that will take the world by storm, rather than giving delicate sounding M2M and Apocalyptic-mixed genres in ATS. It exploration that is counting, and its not just some walk in the park. Making this album would take intense hard work and amazing marketing online.
If deviation from success formulas for the sake of pushing their own personal boundaries and TRYing at ground breaking stuff, then I salute Linkin Park.
If I were to be new to music, and chanced to hear ATS, Linkin Park would become my favorite band. It’s the Effort that counts, and it’s the cheery spirit of the Mike, Chester, Brad, Phoenix, Rob and Hahn that makes this album a success.
So if you don’t like Linkin Park, appreciate the musical content, which is magnificent.
Also appreciate that they work for themselves and not for you, as to provide you with older forms of their music. Its skill work at best.
For The Record: A Thousand Suns…is here to stay.
~ Pranjal Rawat.
Feel free to respond to this, and pitch in a view.
There is nothing I like better than a happening conversation about Linkin Park.
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