Moving on from their trilogy of more electronic avant-metal albums with co-producer Rick Rubin, Southern California’s Linkin Park return to hard-riffing fundamentals here.
The former nu metal superstars are billing their self-produced sixth album as a kind of ‘prequel’ to their 2000 debut Hybrid Theory, rebooting their sound with a nod to classic punk and hardcore influences. This holds true in punchy metalcore growlers like War or Keys To The Kingdom, though the promised elimination of more populist ‘emo’ elements is soon disproved by lightweight melodic numbers like All For Nothing and Final Masquerade.
Starry guests abound, with legendary rapper Rakim making a cameo on Guilty All The Same, a Muse-style doom anthem of agreeably progtastic melodrama, while Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine features on the piano-driven post-rock instrumental Drawbar. Both are stand-out tracks, as is the Godzilla-sized future stadium-stomper Wastelands.
Straining a little too hard for intellectual depth and emotional intensity, The Hunting Party is ultimately let down by its lack of focus and poor quality control. Perhaps if Rubin was still on board, he might have barred substandard drivel like Until It’s Gone, a sustained belch of windy bombast with a lyric that even Bon Jovi might consider overly banal.