Few are the bands that can merge hip-hop, heavy metal, and alternative rock into a collective album. Few are the bands that can expand their fan base with their new sound while retaining their original audience. One exception is Linkin Park (LP), who blend the aforementioned genres into their latest album entitled, “Living Things.”
The playlist starts with “Lost In The Echo,” a motivational track. Although it’s mainly alternative-themed, it also has the feel of their classic sound. Mike Shinoda emcees while Chester Bennington sings the chorus. There’s talk of letting go and a sense of cutting ties with those who betrayed the singer’s trust. Shinoda raps, “I don’t hold back, I hold my own. I can’t be mapped, I can’t be cloned.” The song suggests standing on one’s own two feet. The way Bennington screams “go” near the end forebodes to traces of “Hybrid Theory” and “Meteora” in later tracks.
The second track, “In My Remains,” is more like LP’s later albums “Minutes to Midnight” and “A Thousand Suns.” It carries a soft rock tone. It is sorrowful and introspective, a soliloquy of sorts. Bennington sings, “Separate, shifting through the wreckage, I can’t concentrate. Searching for a message in the fear and pain. Broken down and waiting for a chance to feel alive.” He’s alienated and disassembled. He’s attempting to put himself back together piece by piece. He’s also been ignored and taken for granted as revealed in later lyrics.
“Burn It Down” features hip-hop, heavy metal and alternative rock. Bennington uses his pure singing voice in the intro then channels a portion of his heavy metal chops in the chorus. Shinoda raps in the outro. There’s a theme of self-destruction as the chorus implies building something just to break it down. The equal mixture of genres make this an excellent first single.
“Lies Greed Misery” lets Shinoda’s emcee skills shine. There’s heavy bass in the intro as Shinoda raps and sets the groove. “Imma be that nail in your coffin,” he states. “Saying that I softened. I was ducking down to reload.” This is a song about payback. As Shinoda continues, his accusations become more menacing towards his aggressor. At the peak of hostility dwells the chorus, which Bennington delivers in a gruff, but tamed tone. “I want to see you choke on your lies,” he shouts. “Swallow up your greed. Suffer all alone in your misery.” This track is similar to “Hit The Floor” off “Meteora.”
“Castle Of Glass” is an alternative rock song with deep meaning. Rob Bourdon’s drumming sets the feel of this thought-provoking melody. Bourdon employs syncopated sixteenth notes for the track’s upbeat tempo. The drumming gets louder as the song progresses and its message intensifies. Shinoda performs this song as a tenor. It features poetic devices, including imagery. Shinoda sings, “Fly me up on a silver wing. Past the black where the sirens sing.” Such phrases paint a mental picture for listeners. There’s also a metaphor in the chorus. Shinoda claims he’s a crack in a castle of glass. He’s illustrating how humans are imperfect. We need reconstruction.
“Victimized” is full-fledged old-school Linkin Park. Shinoda emcees about giving no more second chances to his oppressors. Bennington unleashes the power of his vocal chords for that classic LP heavy metal sound. He screams, “Victimized! Victimized! Never again victimized!”
“Roads Untraveled” carries a melancholy sound, shaped by the bells and piano in the intro. Shinoda sings most of the song, sharing the chorus with Bennington. His tone is deep and solemn. Guitarist Brad Delson provides backing vocals, singing an octave above Shinoda to add depth to the track. Shinoda urges listeners not to deal in what ifs. The mental anguish will only blind them from traversing to their future. In many ways, it’s an anthem for the rejected lover. Shinoda sings, “Give up your heart left broken. And let that mistake pass on. ‘Cause the love that you lost. Wasn’t worth what it cost.” The singer is imparting wisdom to his downtrodden brother. He’s trying to spare him unnecessary pain. Shinoda and Bennington are in harmony as they hum lamentable woes for the dream-deprived.
“Living Things” is a must-have. It covers a wide range of genres, including alternative, hip-hop and heavy metal. Linkin Park managed to develop a new sound that still bears traces to their hardcore roots.