Living Things by Linkin Park

 

Of the numerous efforts put out by this Californian six-piece since their beginnings in the scene during the turn of the century, it wouldn’t be too far off for one to allege 2012′s Living Things as being the closest rehash of the radio-friendly anthems found on Hybrid Theory and Meteora, the band’s first two studio releases. A more accurate description and search for resemblance would point to an album bang in the middle of the couple, albeit of a remix variant – think of it as a Reanimation with an active metal element. And you wouldn’t be off your rocker for seeing it that way either.

 

TRACKLIST:
#1. Lost in the Echo 3:24
#2. In My Remains 3:19
#3. Burn It Down 3:51
#4. Lies Greed Misery 2:27
#5. I’ll Be Gone 3:30
#6. Castle of Glass 3:23
#7. Victimized 1:51
#8. Roads Untraveled 3:44
#9. Skin to Bone 2:48
#10. Until It Breaks 3:47
#11. Tinfoil 1:02
#12. Powerless 3:37
Japanese Bonus Track:
#13. What I’ve Done (Live) 4:04

 

PERSONNEL:
Chester Bennington: Vocals, Guitar, Percussion
Mike Shinoda: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboard, Piano
Dave “Phoenix” Farrell: Bass Guitar
Brad Delson: Lead Guitar, Keyboard
Joe Hahn: Turntables, Keyboard, Sampling
Rob Bourdon: Drums, Percussion

 

PRODUCER:
Rick Rubin
Mike Shinoda

 

DATE OF RELEASE:
20th June, 2012

 

SINGLES:
Burn It Down

 

Even if you’re averse of going that far, it’s yet safe to say that this album for better or for worse, doesn’t exactly come across as a direct progression from 2010′s A Thousand Suns. The songs are more crunchy, hard hitting and the entire context seems to possess direction – which isn’t something you could level at the murky mess that was Minutes to Midnight, say – another of its predecessors.

 

In essence, there are two kinds of songs on Living Things. The vast majority are loud, crisp and fixate on delivering a healthy dose of quick energy to the average rock listener. Much of the first half can be categorized as such – with the rappish Lies Greed Misery leading the way; while Lost in the Echo with its booming vocals and guitar is a top effort and arguably enters into the league of the band’s Papercuts, which is saying something. Again, this signifies the blunt overall nature of the album, to reiterate the point – it doesn’t faf around with speeches with snazzy effects or gloomy textures of instrumentals (albeit the ones on A Thousand Suns were very cleverly arranged). It hits off straight away, and stays hit. Some folks would like that I reckon.

 

Then you have the more progressive variant of tracks that choose to tread off the beaten track for a bit. Castle of Glass and Roads Untraveled are encountered at the halfway point and qualify into this category, with their common theme of bringing about a  ‘rather mellow’ to ‘moderately heavy’ sonic experience. Folk is their genre of choice, and they and their well thought out vocals do it fine enough. However, Victimized sandwiched between the two at #7 ends up being a disappointment. Much was made about this track prior to the album’s release, but at 1:51 it isn’t too much of a go, really. The song ends before you know it, and you’d be much better off regarding it as an interlude. Though not at the choicest of positions you’d have to say, between the two aforementioned songs that exhibit experimental tendencies.

 

Tinfoil is a genuine interlude but, and sets up the closer in Powerless brilliantly. The true gem of the album however, lies on the track prior in Until it Breaks. Guitarist Brad Delson spends the entirety of the last minute and a half on vocals on that one, which could only mean that several things special were going on on the first couple of minutes as well.

 

Though there are instances where the album treads on swampy ground too, as you would expect. Skin to Bone at #9 comes off as too chaotic and noisy, whilst lead single Burn it Down is unfathomable in the wider context the record portrays, and probably will serve as cannon fodder for the anti-radio types. And In My Remains seems like a slight drop after the powerful intro track. But that one’s a minor gripe, really.

 

Overall this is a tough one to judge, Living Things. Most fans would take an album like this one in a heartbeat. After all, it features several tracks of the band at their old-school finest, with a few others choosing to expand on the overall sound and venture into uncharted territory. Trouble is, Linkin Park upped the bar so much with A Thousand Suns that this 36 minute follow-up seems rather hasty in comparison. In isolation, the band can be given a pat on their backs for an effort like this. But after the expansive swallows of the last couple of albums? Perhaps not so much so.

 

 

 

 

Responses (16)

  1. Derek Jonathan says:

    I honestly disagree with the critical points of this review. While I can understand some people wanting the band to go off in even more complex directions after A Thousand Suns, in many ways ATS was created simply out of necessity. From the beginning of their careers, the band has always been incorrectly categorized and lumped into a genre they didn't want to be a part of and never tried to be a part of (which was nu-metal). Their musicianship and quality of their music was always ahead of the other offerings in that genre, and that label held them back for the first 4-5 years of their career. Infact it was label pressure to recreate Hybrid Theory expand on the "hard rock" offerings of their debut that lead to Meteora. The band has confessed on numerous occasions that Meteora was a product of trying to live up to their first album, and it's why in some cases the album wasn't as highly reviewed as it's predecessor. It's why the band spent the next two albums trying to run away as far as possible from their old sound. They were disgusted by it and felt it was stale.

    Sometime between ATS and this album however; the band grew comfortable with who they were and realized that there was nothing wrong with revisiting that sound, as long as they do it in a way that sounds fresh and not a retread of their earlier works. And that's what LIVING THINGS is. It's the band being comfortable in their own skin, and no longer running away from who they were, while still moving ahead. That's why you can hear a little bit of everything on this album. The band has used all the tools in their toolbox to make an album that pays respects to their career, from then till now. This was never meant to be a sprawling epic like ATS. It's a song based record, and meant to be a utilization of everything the band has learned to date. And I feel, with the exception of 1-2 tracks, the band did that beautifully. This is a fantastic record when viewed on it's own merits, and not (unfairly) put alongside ATS.

    • Rob Wilson says:

      I agree with you here Derek, though it's great to see they appreciate ATS at least!

    • I would have to agree with most of that, though from a strictly discographical point of view, it would have made much more sense for the band to hypothetically put out a sound like this in the post-Meteora period. Rather than post ATS, an album after which most fans assumed that the band had completely drawn a line under their early era and were progressing to newer horizons album after album.

    • I 100‰ agree with you. Does lpa have a review up on LT yet? I really think this and a review on LT would be something Mike would repost/talk about on his blog

    • I honestly wasn't assuming that Varun. I thought with ATS they'd sort of hit the end of the experimentation. It was all over the place, it had some interesting tracks and a few tracks I really liked, but the album felt unfocused.

      Linkin Park themselves have stated that Minutes to Midnight and ATS were really products of them saying they absolutely wanted to break out of the nu-metal box and that ATS was just them saying fuck it and creating something bizarre.

      This album is far more focused. They've incorporated everything they've done into this and in my eyes it's a stunning success. It's one of the more interesting albums I've heard in years. I enjoyed every track, I loved how every song has a sound of its own yet works with the other tracks on the album. I love the use of effects without the effects for effects sake feeling you got from ATS at times.

      Despite being a massive fan of Hybrid Theory/Meteora, I think the second half of this album is my favourite. Skin to Bone and Roads Untravelled are amazing. I agree with you that Lost in the Echo is probably one of their best tracks to date though.

      I think Hybrid Theory is still their best, but I put this album above Meteora and I love Meteora.

  2. Priyanka Shah says:

    Linkin Park <3.

  3. Thành Tr?n says:

    I can't believe someone could say that "victimized" is a dissapointment. It's short, so what? Isn't it the way LP made their songs? And the last tracks were the best of this album, for real. I can see myself singing "Until It Breaks" and "Castle of Glass" all the time in the future.

  4. I like linkin park's calmer and their more "exciting" songs. In my remains, castle of glass, lost in the echo, roads untraveled, I'll be gone, and powerless are my favorites.

  5. Armand Samaroo says:

    ID have to agree, I was one of those that really really liked A Thousand Suns, I saw some maturity in LP's sound and a actual story to the whole thing, and while I did enjoy Living Things, I cant quite say it lived up to my expectations. I was really enjoying where they were going after ATS but now I'm a bit lost.

  6. Dave Lee says:

    As far as I've seen, no reviewers really agree where weaknesses are on this album. My only complaint was that the chorus on Lies Greed Misery was pretty irritating. While this isn't the follow-up to ATS we're waiting for, that was a concept album, and this is a "fun" album. and it WAS fun.

  7. Rohan Nair says:

    This new album has great mix of all kind of songs, personally "Castle of Glass" is one of the best songs in this album.

  8. I loved the album overall… I think it had a nice balance of the old LP sound but also has some more expansive/experimental tracks. Also got it on Amazon for only $5! Don't think that deal's going to last but it's way better than $12 on iTunes for sureee.

  9. Lode Jersiebe Geboers says:

    A Thousand Suns is still my favorit album, Living Things.. I most like.. it includes my favorit songs… Lose In The Echo and powerless.

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