The sixth album by nu-metal titans Linkin Park, The Hunting Party, features guest appearances by Tom Morello, Daron Malakian and other famous names.
Southern California rap-rock crew’s first album without co-producer Rick Rubin in almost a decade is being billed as a return to their hard-riffing, punky roots. So The Hunting Party is a back-to-basics, guitar-slamming beast. Does this mean Linkin Park have finally dropped their pretensions to become the nu-metal Radiohead? Not quite. The album still contains echoes of their more experimental work, with wonky sonic glitches and spooky vocal samples half-buried between tracks. The Summoning is pretty powerful too, a slithering crescendo of horror-movie tension and eruptive noise belches. Sadly it only lasts one minute. A few more of these weirder numbers would have been welcome, but it feels like Linkin Park are trying to regain the hard-rock heartland after years of falling album sales. In other words, they are playing it safe by harking back to that classic nu-metal era? When scowling young Americans drained heavy rock of all its life-affirming, crotch-thrusting, gloriously overblown pomp and replaced it with cry-baby White Male Privilege wrapped in chest-beating, testosterone-choked anger? Great. That sounds like exactly the reactionary backwards step that rock needs right now. Cheers guys. Not entirely fair. Yes, while it would be true to say co-vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda still offer no challenge to Morrissey in the self-mocking wit stakes, The Hunting Party is not without its melodic and emotional peaks. All For Nothing and Final Masquerade both contain surprisingly large amounts of big-haired glam-metal swagger, while the powerhouse groove-stomp of Wastelands sounds like it could get entire cities moshing. Fans can rest assured that Linkin Park have covered their usual spectrum here, from gratingly pompous to operatically camp. Linkin Park have collaborated with big names before, notably Jay-Z, but this is the first of their albums to feature famous guests. Is this just a cosmetic detail or does it make a real difference to the band’s sound? A bit of both. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine feels like a shadowy presence on the moody avant-rock instrumental Drawbar, while hip-hop legend Rakim is hardly on peak form with his perfunctory rap cameo on Guilty All The Same. But Daron Malakian from System of a Down definitely lays a feverish miasma of System-style prog-metal over the slippery, percussive groove of Rebellion. On balance, Linkin Park sound better with a little help from their friends.