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Linkin Park has a favorite place within the halls of Rock and Roll. Celebrated as the creators of ‘Hybrid Theory,’ they changed the music of an entire generation and will always be remembered for that album if nothing else. Since then, there have been other albums and side projects, some of which were quite experimental in sound. Prior to ‘Living Things,’ many of the Linkin Park singles were quoted by fans as being more ‘mainstream’ and ‘melodic’ in nature. A more in depth look into the history of Linkin Park Albums can be found here.
The newest Linkin Park album though, is something of a conundrum. It does feature the more mainstream sound that fans talk about, yet it also has some memorable hooks as well as that emotional quality that fans connected with for the first time on ‘Hybrid Theory.’ So if the question is, has Linkin Park redeemed itself with ‘Living Things?’ The answer is … sort of.
Song by song, each reveals a layer of Linkin Park’s quality. The first song, “Lost in the Echo” is the second single released off this album. With strong drum and bass work, this first track features Mike Shinoda right off the bat. In perfect unison during Shinoda’s rap, Chester Bennington’s haunting vocal suffuses background of this track right before Bennington starts his individual section of the vocal. It has always been the vocal tag team that made Linkin Park’s sound so unique in comparison to other bands with the same instrumental background.
In the same spirit, the second track “In My Remains” begins with a guitar riff that could have been taken right off the ‘Reanimation’ album for its remix sound before Benningtons’ rock vocal adds the real emotion behind the song. “In My Remains” could sound similar to “What I’ve done” with its guitar and drum arrangement except it features both Shinoda and Bennginton carrying an overlapping vocal note that gives the song a serious tone and will definitely connect with fans.
“Burn It Down” is the first single and third track on the ‘Living Things’ album. It features the inclusion of another style of music, chiefly electronic musical arrangements overlaying the bands rock and rap origins. It is not quite as big a departure as one might think since Linkin Park has been known to excellently mix other styles of music into their albums. The electronic notes resonate with excellent timing to fit snuggly into the vocal and instrumentals, taking this song to the next level.
That said, the song is complicated since it echo’s Linkin Park’s sentiment that ‘Living Things’ is an album about relationships and the people in them. As the first single, “Burn It Down” completely embodies the cycle a relationship can go through before ultimately failing. The song can be about addiction, abuse, disappointment, bad relationships, revenge or any other myriad of emotions. It has appeal on many levels but doesn’t stick to a main theme, leaving the more specific driven songs for other tracks on the album.
The 4th track “Lies Greed Misery” is a very specific revenge song. In essence, it carries the message that you reap what you sow. A classic song for the angry listener, it gives the impression that Linkin Park speaks to someone in frustration. It is an up-tempo screamer of a song mixed in with rap and big hits of bass to achieve that head-thrashing, middle finger-flashing, rock anthem feel.
Dovetailing off of that vengeful note, the 5th track titled “I’ll be Gone” takes the other route of ending a relationship, peacefully leaving and never looking back. Whether this song is about suicide or simply walking away from the bonds of a relationship is up for debate but the song is very powerful. No doubt it will either be a future single or a very popular Karaoke song as an excellent ballad for the heartbroken.
“Castle of Glass” sets off a profound and haunting spine chilling tone for this 6th track on the ‘Living Things’ album. Completely open to interpretation at first, a closer examination of the lyrics reveals a song about war. The musical arrangement has a constant drum beat that speeds up and slows down like a soldiers march.
The second verse is about flying out of the warzone on silver wings, through the aerial cannon fire and the dreamlike feeling of coming home after such a long time. Duty and honor is not a shiny medal and a pat on the back; many times its about witnessing ¬†horrors, maintaining a semblance of sanity and surviving to get home again. That distinct feeling is what this song embodies, especially for our returning soldiers.
Toonari Post’s Review of the ‘Living Things’ Album continues in Part 2 for Tracks 7 through 12.