Well...a little over two months after its release, and years of waiting since the last studio album...I finally have my very own copy of the latest installment in the Linkin Park music warehouse, A Thousand Suns. I must say, I am very happy with what the band has accomplished on this record. It blows MTM out of the water, and I am one of the fans that feels that MTM was musical artistry. From the banshee like wails at the onset in The Requiem, which continued into and eerie female sounding chant of the words "God save us everyone / Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand Suns?" I knew I was not going to be disappointed by a band that I have always thought was revolutionary.
With the fans being so sorely divided since the departure of the band from the sound of the sibling albums "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora" and even the professional critics giving the record mixed reviews...I felt I was taking a leap of faith by sticking it out and getting the album anyway. I've been enjoying the two lead singles, vowing not to listen to the remainder of the album until I bought it. It is very hard to ignore comments left on youtube.com by their "fans" and so despite the slight anxiety, the ever so rare thought of, "What if ATS isn't all that?" I bought it. I like to be informed, and to get persons' opinions, however, God gave us free will, and thinking ability...the ability to form your own opinions and to choose what you want to do and like in this life...though at the end of the day, you are accountable to him for your choices.
I must say that the album is an exceptional feat of sonic aesthetics, ear candy if you will. I decided to listen to the album without any expectations of what it "should" sound like. I knew the band wanted to create honest art. I was determined to listen to that auditory art with an open mind and with no preconceived ideas of who Linkin Park is. What I found, was that by doing that, I was introduced to a band that is committed to artistry. I was introduced to a band that is mature, has something interesting to say, in a way that I've never heard it before. The interludes of Oppenheimer, Mario Savio, and Martin Luther King Jr., highlighted the band's newly found interest in current affairs and taking on the establishment. Even though all these quotes were from another time, almost another world...the band found a way to make it so that they have just as much relevance in the 21st Century, as when they were first uttered. They consider mature themes of letting go of love, pride and dealing with regret...starting over...Burning in the Skies, Iridescent and Robot Boy are lyrically some of the most poetic verses Mike and Chester have ever written. Rob, Phoenix, Brad and Joe seemingly have been given the opportunity, to great effect, to explore realms of musicianship that only the eccentric and daring progressive rockers would. The opening notes of the album sum it up better than I ever could. The band knew that making this album would tick off A LOT of their fans, who desperately want them to regress to being who they were ten years ago...It seems though, that they have chosen to do what they always have...to make music they like, to challenge themselves, and to push the boundaries further than anyone in their generation ever thought possible. Album sales was not the motivating factor in creating this album. Trying to please people wasn't the aim. They wanted to create something only Linkin Park could create, and they wanted to do everything that they never thought they themselves could do. This album takes you into another world for the duration that it plays. It closes with The Messenger, a stripped down acoustic ballad, seeming almost paradoxical in its approach, which is what the band seemed to want to do with everything on this album, take whatever you expect, and turn it around - Chester screams of angels and melodies leading you to a place where you'll always be loved - home. His abrasive screams come over a light texture of simply the acoustic guitar and the piano...evidence of veteran producer, Rick Rubin's guidance in the whole process. Another wonderful aspect of the album is that there seems to be just the
right balance of Mike rapping/singing, and Chester singing. Waiting for the End
is a highlight as Mike takes on deejaying with a dancehall type flow,
and it is very recognizable and very well done. (And I am from Jamaica
so I would know.)
If you want "super loud guitars" and the simple verse-chorus-bridge format of the youthful Linkin Park, then A Thousand Suns is not for you. If you want a profoundly moving, piece of musical creativity embodied in a single piece of work...then you will be able to appreciate what they have laboured so hard to give birth to (they actually intend for it to be listened to from start to finish.) [In fact, if I am not mistaken, they did release the album where everything is just one continuous track on itunes.]
I remember once Mike and Joe were being interviewed, and the interviewer asked them what they thought went wrong with MTM, since it had not won any Grammy Awards like its predecessors, despite having such successful singles...then he followed up by asking if their new album would be "Grammy-worthy" and Joe simply said, "Yes, the next album will be 'Grammy-worthy.'" I just wanna say that I second that Joe...whether or not the Academy has the sense to give any to you guys...great job with the album.