Rumours of Linkin Park’s impending return to heavy, metal-friendly music are rampaging all over the internet, and with the trailer for The Hunting Party showing plenty of promise, Metal Hammer Dep Ed Merlin Alderslade makes the case for why this could be a timely move for the rock megastars.
Linkin Park are not metal. There, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get serious about this globe-conquering 21st century phenomenon, shall we? Recent murmurings from the band themselves have suggested that the Cali heavyweights are set to make an unexpected return to heavier sounds for new album, The Hunting Party. Sounds that, lest we forget, saw them drop the biggest-selling debut album of the 21st century and define an entirely new (read: nu) generation of alternative music fans. A reason to get excited, then? If you, like me, were a hoody-donning nu metal warrior that wore your Spineshank patch proudly, then quite possibly. Of course, not long after those rumours started to gain momentum came Guilty All The Same, a track that, while hardly an anthem in the vein of One Step Closer or even Numb, certainly seemed to give credence to Mike Shinoda’s claims of an “energetic” direction for a band that has sat atop the rather vague alt rock mountain for well over a decade now. But is there any real reason to be interested in a “heavier” Linkin Park in 2014?
In the Autumn of 2000, Hybrid Theory installed itself as not just one of the finest debut albums of its time, but an era-topping achievement in production and genre-hopping innovation. Linkin Park were by no means the first band to meld metal, hip-hop and electronica, but they did so with a finesse and a sheen that had fans flocking to heavy music at a maddening rate, bolstering another subculture with metal’s already muddled ranks and setting the template for countless bands for years to come. Think its impact was overrated? Watch how many people are belting out In The End at Download festival on the Saturday night. Doubt its influence? Listen to the production and Oli Sykes’ forceful, angst-ridden tones on Sleepwalking. Take heed of Issues DJ, Scout, being given a 90-second scratch-session on the band’s recently dropped debut. There’s only one place this stuff is being lifted from, folks, and it’s being done loudly and proudly. Whatever you think of the band, Linkin Park have had a big influence on metal’s more commercially viable strain, and its an influence that, for better or worse, is starting to appear in a big way.
Perhaps it is timely, then, that LP themselves have seemingly chosen to return to the genre that gave them their success in the first place. Since that time, their association with heavy music has only lessened more with each passing album, with 2003’s solid sophomore, Meteora, being followed by a trio of albums that ranged from average to insipid at best. As my esteemed colleague Dom Lawson quite rightly suggested in his less-than-subtle video blog at the time, 2012’s Living Things was hardly an album to open up pits and lose shit to. It was the sound of a band done with anything even approaching the peripheries of metal or anything even remotely heavy whatsoever. Bands don’t have to stay “metal” to stay great, of course – look how Opeth have majestically evolved into the prog rock behemoth that they are today – but in Linkin Park’s case, it feels like they’ve spent too long skirting around the things that made them great in the first place.
Now, we not only have a new single that is by far the heaviest thing they’ve done for years, but news of guest appearances from the likes of System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian and Helmet man Page Hamilton. If this is a return to the heavy stuff, that’s not a bad crew to be rolling with, ladies and gentlemen. Plus, choosing to play Hybrid Theory in full this summer shows that the band are not as dismissive of their heavy roots as they had recently appeared, so if they honestly believe that the timing is right, Linkin Park could indeed be about drop something more befitting of the band that once crafted that almighty nu metal hitfest. Whatever happens, for the first time in far too long, there is a Linkin Park album on the way that our world has genuine reason to show interest in. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype that’s building…