Linkin park’s latest wants you to know, or at least think, that it’s a big deal. From the eerie opening monologue of A-bomb mastermind J. Robert Oppenheimer in The Requiem right down to the album’s title: ‘A Thousand Suns’ the record screams grandeur – if comparing your latest work to the invention of the nuke doesn’t set the standards to game-changer then what does, eh? Initial buzz pointed towards it being an album by a band at a turning point, wiling if not determined to mix things up and reinvent themselves. There’s a lot riding on Linkin Park’s fourth studio effort, after all, you could call the band the lone survivors of a music genre that’s not only long dead but one which many prefer to think of as long forgotten. Yet the rap-rock six-piece live on with a track record of unparalleled success behind them. Somehow their output has endured and not only that, it’s been highly anticipated, so the real question with ‘A Thousand Suns’ is, behind all the smoke and mirrors can Linkin Park carry the torch successfully into the new decade?
On the whole they don’t fall far from succeeding. ‘A Thousand Suns’ sees the band change gears, willing to take more risks whilst still running the fine line of dabbling in both rap and rock without getting too comfy in either territory. Chester Bennington once again becomes the bands go to guy for melodic vocals but this time around acts as the connecting point to the bands earlier screamier output. Case in point: just compare him flexing his vocal chords in breezy track Burning in the Skies to the Strepsil educing screams of Blackout and you’ll get the picture – sure the band want to move forward but not without offering a brief taste of nostalgia to die hard fans.
Meanwhile, the rap aspect which has always been one of the bands staple USP’s proves to have some life left in it yet with tracks like the tribal When They Come For Me, the laid back Waiting For The End and the rebellious Wretches and Kings ticking all the right boxes. Mike Shinoda and the band may not be exactly Rage Against The Machine, but they’ll certainly do. That being said, you do get the impression that the album relies a bit too heavily on lifted speech samples. From Oppenheimer to the sombre Martin Luther King Jr and angsty sixties counter-culture activist Mario Savio, perhaps they feel their inclusion will help give the record a deeper underlying message, even if it is slightly unclear just what that message is. But despite that, it works and instead of wondering what kind of morality tale Linkin Park are trying to express you simply find yourself humming the new tracks in an effort to get them out of your head. You can almost hear the arena crowds chanting the chorus of debut single The Catalyst already, it seems that the torch has been carried effectively into the new decade and all it took was a thousand suns to light it.
‘A Thousand Suns’ is in stores now.