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.
#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
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
DATE OF RELEASE:
20th June, 2012
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.