vineri, 24 decembrie 2010

The revolution is over. Waiting for the end while burning in the fire of a thousand suns.(review for album A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park)

“By now, you've probably listened to Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns somewhere between 20 and 50 times (just like Mike Shinoda told you to!), and you've probably formed a pretty solid opinion on the album. Either you think it's a brave, ballsy reinvention of the band's sound, or you hate it because, dude, where are the guitars?!?”
I first listened to this album the day it was released: September 14th and while the songs were playing I was invaded by a terrible feeling of disappointment. Most of you may say, “of course you were disappointed, you expected that Linkin Park would launch the same mix of hip-hop/metal you were used to”. The answer is no. Since the hybrid MTM was launched, I knew they will get another turn. I knew they have changed a lot and they want to do something else. But every old Linkin Park fan, including myself expected to something else new but good. And special, and different. ATS is not good. Neither different or special. ATS is one of the worst albums I’ve listened in the last years. ATS is commercial.
Linkin Park marked my whole existence as a teenager. I started listening to them when I was 13.  Of course that since then, my taste in music has changed a lot and now I’ve got many other rock-metal bands to listen but Linkin Park converted me to this genre of music. They were my favorite band for such a long time and even now they have a special drawer in my soul.Those guys really did something original, they were a hybrid of rap/rock/nu-metal which went great and could give you an amazing feeling every time you were listening to their albums. They had an identity in the music culture, they had a personality. You could say “yes, this is Linkin Park, this is their style, sound, imprint”. Everything became confusing since MTM came out. MTM is a divided album as I written in it’s review. It’s a hybrid in the real sense of the word. It isn’t unitary and while listening to it, you realize that Linkin Park are in a personality crisis and have divided thoughts and feelings. It sounds like they don’t know where to head at. Since then,  I’ve been waiting for the new album because I guessed that this album will show the way they’ve changed and their new direction.  Everything got clear after ATS was released. These guys have radically changed. Now, I can’t say LInkin Park as a band has a style or personality anymore. Now Linkin Park is a total mess. In their live shows, they play a mix of old and new songs and this thing makes you wonder “where is Linkin Park? Which is their REAL style? Who are them in fact?”. What is clear is that they’ve got a new direction and entered in a new era of making their music. They adopted this pop-electronic-rap genre which is a mix of sounds that doesn’t tell too much. They really are a hybrid. No imprint left. I pointed this out because all the bands who remained known as great bands in the music history have their own personality, style and signature in music. If they changed, they didn’t change radically, they improved their style (see: Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Rolling Stones). Linkin Park is continuously changing. By changing all the time, a band cannot put an imprint on the music history and remain written there. By changing all the time a band can end up in confusion and also confuse it’s fans.
I didn’t listen ATS “between 20 and 50 times”, but I listened to it a lot. With/without headphones, paying attention to the lyrics, sound, message. Unfortunately, that was a waste of time because my opinion remained just like the first. I wrote this review long time after the album came out because I wanted to let the feelings dissolve and combine and I tried to understand the album but it seems there’s not much to understand.
Compared to MTM, ATS is unitary and homogenous. But the fact it has 15 songs outsmarted many people as 5 of them are just so called “interludes” (The Requiem, The Radiance, Empty Spaces, Jornada del Muerto, Fallout) and one of them is a speech of Martin Luther King (Wisdom, Justice and Love). So there are only 9 full songs that remain. I didn’t fully understood the role of these interludes, I guess they wanted to create some bridges and links between the songs or point some feelings out but I’m still not sure what’s their real meaning.
The third track- Burning in the skies is a slow song with very short guitar riff at the end.  It sounds like the demo of the song New divide with Chester singing “ I’m losing what I don’t deserve” while in New Divide he was saying “I get what I deserve”. It has nothing special, maybe just some metaphoric words like “ In the end we were made to be apart/Like separate chambers of the human heart” and “swimming in the smoke of bridges I have burned”. The sound is commercial, good to be played on the radio.
When they come for me- a protest of Mike Shinoda against all the critics, reviewers and disappointed fans. It’s hip hop, electronic with random drums. The attitude is good, it’s a way of saying that they really don’t care what fans, reviewers and other people think, they’re on their own and they want to make their own music as they like without caring about critics. In the music history, there are very few bands which followed only their own vision without being influenced by mainstream. Amazing way of thinking but very bad way of expression. This song has nothing more than a crazy sound with that “shut up motherfucker” inserted in the worst way. It’s incredible the way these guys could express their revolution and hard feelings in their past albums without having that “parental advisory, explicit content” sticker on the CD cover. Now they got it and they got it bad because they really don’t know how and where to swear. They aren’t  convincing anymore.  And the verse “ I’m not a robot/ I’m not a monkey/  I won’t dance even the beat is funky” is really silly. Uninspired.
Robot boy- slow song with very good piano intro.  And nothing else. The title reminds me of Tim Burton’s character,  and the lyrics seem to be a protest against the violence in the world and against the lack of love and affection that we all suffer from. The idea is good and I think this song could become much better if they worked more on it. I think I can call it “good”.
Waiting for the end- very good hip hop part at the beginning, even the lyrics tend to be better but the slow solo part of Chester that comes after is so slow and boring that can be a very good cure for insomniacs. The end is somewhat faster and interesting but…no guitars again.
Blackout-  some guitars and tendency to a harsh metal sound. The lyrics don’t express much but we can hear Chester shouting somehow. It sounds like a demo with raw and distorted sounds. But the final feeling resulted is rather frustration than revolution. One of the “good” songs on this album.
Wretches and kings-  maybe “the best” song on the album, but also sounding like a demo. We can get some revolution and so called “life” listening to it.
Iridescent- slow, very slow and very… emo. “ Do you feel cold and lost in desperation” what’s that? Of course it becomes pretty optimistic telling you to “remember all the sadness and frustration and oh let it go” and a small guitar riff comes as a bonus at the end but… this song is one of the most commercial songs I’ve ever heard. And every time Chester sings “remember all” with a harsh vocal I burst into laughing. It really doesn’t work in such a slow song. It worked before… in nu metal. It worked damn great.
The catalyst- the first single that came out, the first thing we all heard, the first thing that disappointed. A protest against war with religious background “God save us everyone”. It sounded to me ike a following of “Hands held high” which had that “amen amen”. The catalyst has “God save us” so now we see that these guys have become more than afflicted by the wars and disasters in the world. They have become religious even in music. That’s not bad but the repetition of God save us and “we’re a broken people living under loaded gun” becomes boring throughout the whole length of the song. Most people rated “the catalyst” as the best song on the album. I can’t say that. I just can say that it sounds more vivid than many others on ATS. And of course, it’s good for the morning radio.
The messenger- a song I simply can’t listen to. It’s like a following of the make love not war flower power motto. It’s disappointing. Chester singing alone with a slight keyboards background reminds me of a pop-star girlie singing a song about love and kindness on MTV. It’s like a kick  between the eyes. It hurts.
What I can say in conclusion is that those guys created an album which seems to be a protest against world’s violence and lack of empathy. It seems that they were very marked by the disasters that struck America  in the past years and now they’re singing for peace. This thing is obviously shown by the songs The catalyst, Robot boy, Iridescent and the speech of Martin Luther King inserted in the album. Nothing bad in this decision but It would have been damn good if they’d choose a more non-commercial way to express this. When they came out and in the first years of their evolution as a band, Linkin Park’s music could be listened only to the rock and metal radio. I was a little bit shocked when I first heard them on the morning radio with “shadow of the day” some time ago…now all the songs on ATS can be  played on the radio. The only thing I can get from this is that Linkin Park has become a commercial band and now they’re in the pop music mainstream. I’m sure they wanted to do something great and outstanding but all they could do is to release another bunch of pop-electronic songs which will easily loose in the huge pile of easy songs.That’s disappointing and sad. They lost most of their old fans and gained some brand new listeners, who never heard or never liked their first albums. Even one of my friends, keen on pop and electronic music who never liked Linkin Park before said “these guys sound pretty good” after listening to ATS. Linkin Park new era of slow soft music begun. What will they create next? A symphony? Nevermind. The revolution is over and here ends the evolution of a very promising band. Burning in the fire of a thousand suns, as the guys themselves declare.

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