Linkin Park will release their sixth studio album The Hunting Party on June 16, and the LA sextet have been promising fans a collection of songs darker and heavier than anything they've previously recorded.
“We’re not 18-year-old kids making a loud record, we’re 37-year-old adults making a loud record,” co-vocalist Mike Shinoda recently noted, also stating that The Hunting Party is inspired by artists such as Refused, Helmet and At The Drive-In.
We now have the album, and we can examine those bold claims in more detail. Here’s our track-by-track guide to The Hunting Party.
KEYS TO THE KINGDOM
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and with The Hunting Party it’s evident that Linkin Park are out to shake up expectations from the off. Keys To The Kingdom explodes into life with a distorted Chester Bennington vocal, the singer barking “No Control! No Surprise!” like a cyborg Dennis Lyxzen, before a stop-start Brad Delson guitar riff kicks in. Mike Shinoda then weighs in with some tough guy rapping - “Got a different method, but I can still bring the pain…” / “Careful what you shoot for, cos you might hit what you aim for…” - before a trademark LP chorus crashes in. By the time the track closes out with some ‘woah-oh-woah’ massed vocals you’ll be buzzing.
ALL FOR NOTHING
Helmet’s Page Hamilton is on here somewhere: good luck to anyone who can locate his trademark staccato riffing in the mix. All Or Nothing largely adheres to the traditional Linkin Park formula, with a brash Mike Shinoda verse bleeding into a widescreen Chester Bennington chorus: the second verse sees Shinoda asserting: “Let me break this fucker down for ya, I really don’t know ya… no I’m not your soldier, I’m not taking any orders, I’m a five star general…” There’s also a pretty, tinkling piano outro, setting up ‘the heavy shit’ that follows…
GUILTY ALL THE SAME
If you’ve the slightest bit of interest in what Linkin Park are up to in 2014 you’ll know this one already. It’s huge – featuring a cool Matt Bellamy-esque riff, big portentous doomy piano chords, martial drums, and then a big monster chorus featuring a melody reminiscent of a section of My Chemical Romance’s Thank You For The Venom. “You’re guilty all the same, too sick to be ashamed,” sings Chester. “You want to point your finger but there’s no-one else to blame.” When hip-hop legend Rakim steps in for the second verse it’s impossibly exciting.
A little pause for reflection. This atmospheric mood piece is one minute of FX pedal noise, synth washes and random clanging guitar chords: for reasons that probably make sense only if you’re in the band, the run-out features what sounds like a sample of a kids softball game. “Watch the ball! Run, run, run!”
Woah, Linkin Park go Punk Rock! Ushered in with a classic “1-2, 1-2-3-4” count, this is 2 minutes 11 seconds of snarling punk rock attitude which sounds more like Trash Talk than Linkin Park. The pregnant pause before the chorus (“War! Destroyer!”) is particularly smart. You would never guess this was Linkin Park in a million years. Bracing.
And, in contrast to the previous track, this could only be Linkin Park. The band are on familiar ground here, with a cool, clatteringly funky rhythm, rapped Shinoda verses (“Every phrase a razorblade,” he brags) and then a big Chester B chorus referencing the “wastelands of today” where there’s “nothing left to lose” and furthermore “nothing more to take.”
UNTIL IT’S GONE
The album’s inevitable monster ballad. The lyrical sentiment is breaking no new ground, as Chester Bennington acknowledges when he sings “I’ve heard it said a thousand times, but now I know…” and the song’s key lyric - “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” - is repeated like a mantra.
From the second the opening riff kicks in, you know exactly who the special guest on this track is. System Of A Down guitarist Daron Malakian’s fingerprints are all over this, from that killer introduction to Bennington’s hectic, bonkers screams of “Rebellion! Rebellion!” in the middle eight. The chorus runs “We are the fortunate ones, who’ve never faced oppression’s gun”: hard to argue with that.
MARK THE GRAVES
The track’s most experimental track, wrapping a chunky Helmet-esque riff, ambient noise and swooshing keyboards into a rather fractured, disorientating whole, which never settles into a formula. Interesting.
If the previously reported presence of Rage Against The Machine guitar wizard Tom Morello on this track has got you all in a tizzy you can calm down right now. This tasteful minor key instrumental could be Muse at their most low-key, with a sweet piano intro, marching drums and some unobtrusive, chiming processed guitar, presumably supplied by the RATM man.
More A Thousand Suns than Hybrid Theory, this is LP at their most controlled and meditative, a slowly unfurling, mid-paced anthem built around simmering keyboards, unfussy, low-tempo beats and palm-muted guitar. It features one of Chester Bennington’s finest vocal performances on the album: “The light on the horizon was brighter yesterday, shadows floating over, the skies began to fade…”
A LINE IN THE SAND
The Hunting Party draws to a close with this 6 minute 35 second sci-fi themed epic, which builds from a static-flecked, chilling, ‘last man on earth’ transmission into something more powerful and menacing, featuring an echoing, double-tracked Shinoda vocal and some classic Bennington rage - “You’ll get what’s yours,” he seethes. “Give me back what’s mine!” - before seguing into an almost Maiden-esque guitar part and finally dissolving into a reprise of the opening.