Sunday, July 22, 2007

Musical Review : Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight


After four years of silence, the band Linkin Park has come out with their third studio album called Minutes to Midnight, a reference to the Doomsday Clock which was instigated by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The clock gauges how close humanity is to "midnight", were midnight is a large catastrophic destruction of humanity. Originally represented the threat of global nuclear war, but has since evolved to include nuclear weapons, climate-changing technologies and "new developments in the life sciences and nanotechnology that could inflict irrevocable harm. This new album has some deep political and social undertones, which manifests itself strongly in such songs as "What I've Done", "Bleed It Out", and "Hands Held High".

Linkin Park has been called by some “unclassifiable”, or an “undefined” genre, while others classify them as a hybrid, most popularly “Rap-Metal”, “Nu Metal”, or “Rapcore”. Usually though Linkin Park is classified under the very general “Alternate Metal” or “Alternative rock” genres. Linkin Park is a medley of several genres and has a very unique sound, and as such these classifications often seem very limited and inapplicable to this band.

Linkin Parks first two Albums "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora" both hit Multi-Platinum in the United States and also in Canada and several other Countries. Their new album "Minutes To Midnight" had great expectations to fill, with fans worldwide, notably in the United States, , Japan, The United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Australia, all waiting for the unique band to produce another hit record.

The album was delayed multiple times, first scheduled for summer 2006, then fall 2006, then early 2007, until finally the US and Canada release date was set for May 15, 2007. With the huge fan base, and unprecedented low new-release price of around $15.00, the album was readily received. The album debuted at number 1 in the United States, and many other countries. In the U.S. the album had the biggest first week sales of 2007 thus far, with 625,000 copies shipped. The album hit platinum in the, Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States of America, along with gold in 15 other countries, and has shipped over 3.3 million worldwide, in under a month.

In this new album Linkin Park made and active effort to change their sound. Lead guitarist Brad Delson said about their new record:

“When we initially starting thinking about making this record, in our mind we wanted to try something new”

Their producer Rick Ruben said to them:

“I want you guys to just forget about what the Linkin Park “Sound” sounds like. And just go and just write music and write whatever you like”

Chester Bennington, lead singer said about the new sound:

“We didn’t want to make a trilogy; we didn’t want to make another album that sounded like what people would expect.”

And that is what they did; they rebuild Linkin Park from the bottom up, changing every aspect of their music. As I was evaluating their pre-release tracks and sound, I came across some very confused, angry and intrigued fans. There was one who actually did not believe it was Linkin Park. Their sound has changed so dramatically that it has become barely recognizable.

Right from the start there are dramatic changed in the sound, the familiar heavy distorted sound have been replaced by slightly overdriven soft rock sound, the vocals are much more conservative in both dynamics and tone than their previous albums, what’s more Chester Benningtons’ trademark screams are not to be found oft in their new sound. One element that has been added to the mix, are the guitar solos that traditionally Linkin Park did not perform. This album is also the first album to feature Mike Shinoda singing, rather than rapping, and in fact actually sings two songs all of his own, “In Between” and “No Roads Left” found on the Minutes to Midnight bonus track.

Another element that was introduces, was the use of profanity which has earned this album an ugly “Parental Advisory” sticker on the bottom right of the album cover, this is mainly from rapper Mike Shinoda and his indiscriminate use of the English language, although Chester does swear in his single “Given Up”, they are producing a “Clean Album” so for those who do not wish to hear profanity have the option. Speaking on profanity, their first swear on a CD was found on hybrid theory bonus track “High Voltage” which swear was very minute. Later on, after Meteora, when Linkin Park teamed up with rapper “Jay-Z” who regularly swears in his many songs, it is a great possibility that this experienced prompted the band to discard its previous taboos. Another plausible explanation is that in the great reformation of Linkin Park, and the “play what you like” attitude, that this required removing this creative hindrance. Regardless of the reason in the first track that Mike Shinoda sings, “Bleed It Out”, he sings “Going out of my _____ mind, dirty mouth, No Excuse”, which gives further insight into the thinking of Shinoda and the band on this matter.

With this new change the previous Genres given to the band are now truly inapplicable. Linkin park has changed closer to a soft rock feel with large hip-hop-pop influences, and a subtle a classic rock undertone.

With Linkin Parks investigation of genres many fans have said that they lost themselves. And truly is seems that they have lost their “old” selves. In a few songs you can hear that it really is Linkin Park, such as “Given Up” which holds pretty much true the old Linkin Park sound, and in “Bleed It Out” which has raspy vocals, heavy rapping, and a distorted guitar. “What I’ve Done” the flagship song for the album also has a great similitude of their old albums, which this song was incidentally the last song they wrote on the album. But for the most park the casual listener could easily pass up this album as mainstream music and would not recognize who wrote it, as I have seen on several occasions.


OVERALL (3.90)

Overall the album turned out very well, although there are songs on it that really suck, there are also songs on there that are really great. This album is getting many negative reviews, but these reviews are not objective, they are judging Linkin Park harshly because of the fact that they changed, and “sold out” to get more money, or to get on the radio, or whatever the case may be. Now this may be true, but the fact is that they are still making good music. If you listen to this album with preconceived notions of what Linkin Park is, you will probably be disappointed. As one put it “Good, but it won't scratch your Linkin Park itch” which is exactly what it is. If you’re looking for another hybrid theory or Meteora, you will be disappointed. Although I was hugely disappointed with this album at first, it grew on me, and to tell you the truth, now that I look on for what it is instead of what it isn’t I can objectively compare it to similar groups. Maybe Linkin Park isn’t as original as it used to be, maybe they sold out a bit, but they sure as heck create the best music in the genre even if I would prefer it were a different genre.




-BREAKDOWN-




WAKE (3.25)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

-(N/A)-------- ----------- ------------- -------------

Lyrics: No Lyrics

Composition: This introduction instrumental starts with swelling and chimes, and progresses to include drum, bass, and guitar, vamping chords. This then fades out into the next songs intro . It’s a nice intro, but not anything that you will remember.

Innovation: Nothing shocking here, and pretty much basic for Linkin Park.

Relevance: The song evokes some urges and makes you feel something, which is what a song should do, overall good.

Musicianship: Nothing that the musicians do, surprise you or makes you looks, very basic.



GIVEN UP (3.7)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

Lyrics------------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

-----------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: Very basic lyrics, about being trapped inside yourself, about hating yourself, looking to break loose of the monotony and looking for help, one song like a million others. It’s also noteworthy that this is their first song they swear in, and the first every Chester swears as a member of Linkin Park.

Composition: Starts out with a nice fresh beat, and the some nice rythematic belted chords that gets your head jumping. Then gets into some very “real” chords that brings you to a new level. Vocals use good melodies and interesting chorus line. Though later on the song seems to take a detour to some very metal roots which is very well inserted though did not exactly fit.

Innovation: Some very different rhythmic patterns, and points for blending genres and the metal detour, original.

Relevance: Despite the somewhat dull lyrics the feeling gets across, and you can feel the emotion.

Musicianship: All in all it’s a fairly simple song, but not too simple. The only things that may turn heads are the vocals, and the uncharacteristic beat for the genre.



LEAVE OUT ALL THE REST (4.3)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: Very interesting lyrics, a change from the average songs. An optimistic song with pessimist undertones makes you think and feel, which good lyrics always do.

Composition: Starts out similarly to Wake, but better, has some very nice vocals and the chorus has some harmonies that require the listener to feel something. Overal a very good sounding and feeling song.

Innovation: Not overly original save the lyrics which are very nice. The overall sound is not mainstream but it is not too shocking either. The lack of depth is made up by the quality of harmonies and lyrics.

Relevance: Defiantly makes you feel sober, has a serious feel to it, which makes one think of a variety of topics. Death, posterity, legacy, purpose, and several “big” questions.

Musicianship: The use of synthesizers and electronic instruments gives composers a very unique style of song to look at. Also they include stringed instruments, along with the classic rock and roll instruments and some very liberal percussion instruments.



BLEED IT OUT (3.7)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics-----------Composition--------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

----------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: The meaning of these lyrics are in dispute by many, some say that he is talking about the making of the songs. While others take a more literal interpretation of the song talking about the war, although they still do not agree on all the lyrics. Whatever it actually means, it is lost in the song but the fact that I can mean different things to different people is a good lyrical skill, though lack of clarity is not. Slightly below average lyrical content.

Composition: Very basic composition thought the Rap-Rock feel does add depth. The clapping and screaming also add new dimensions though not necessarily positives. All in all the song is slightly above average feel, something you may get stuck in your head.

Innovation: Once again the Rap-Metal-Rock blended feel is somewhat innovative and the sound itself is rather unique and new.

Relevance: The chorus makes you feel like rocking out, but the feeling will likely not be memorable and easily forgotten. Nothing someone is going to obsess over, or change their life over as many of their previous songs have done.

Musicianship: Average, but the addition of clapping which is not found in rock or metal if a very innovative and liberal move on Linkin Parks part.




SHADOW OF THE DAY (3.6)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

-------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: Very simple Lyrics, About lack of motivations and departing from old ways/friends/lovers, very short lyrical content but decent input.

Composition: Decent musical structure, once again swelling music, chimes, and soft vocals. The vocal range and dynamics are fairly impressive and the overall feel of the song is very nice. Good melodies and something you can easily get stuck in your head.

Innovation: Not very original, but not un-original, just a very standard song, although the electronic element adds a bit to the song.

Relevance: Not a very meaningful song to most, but it does make you feel lingeringly happy.

Musicianship: Nothing special done in this song, nothing overly outstanding in a musical perspective, but not too dull.




WHAT I’VE DONE (4.1)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

Lyrics----------Composition-----------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

----------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: Simple lyrics, but very thoughtful and impressive, taking and insight into not only themselves but society and culture. As their flagship song it really does have a greater depth and meaning then most songs.

Composition: The song just feels important. Its full of regret and somberness, a firm solid song that tells its listeners that it’s time to change. It brings the listener into the fight, into the raw energy of the song and directs them to the cause. Also has very nice harmonies and musical aspects, simplistic but complex.

Innovation: Not overly original in the composition or the vocals but the feelings evoked defiantly have a very innovative feel to them, regardless of what this is attributed to.

Relevance: Very relevant and political, a necessary song for the day.

Musicianship: Some good examples here, the notable use of the turntable, the heavy political topics, and the cry for action.




HANDS HELD HIGH (4.6)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

-----------------------------------------

Lyrics: The lyrics on this song are good, the first verse is decent and gets progressively better, but the second verse is truly above ordinary, and successfully communicates the meaning to you.

Composition: A very well put together song, very simple but it is what the songs calls for, very nice harmonies and drum line.

Innovation: Very well done, controversial in lyrics, fresh in a musical light introducing several different aspects into the song, some very original ideas.

Relevance: This song strikes close to the heart, I have talked to people who have cried when they first heard it, it’s defiantly a song that says something and I feel the power every time I hear it. One of the more meaningful and well put songs of our day.

Musicianship: Good on Linkin Park to work a soft rap song, with singing and musical elements, defiantly a point on interest for artists, though nothing that hasn’t been seen before.




NO MORE SORROW (4.2)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

--------------------------------------------

Lyrics: I was impressed by the lyrics of this song, very good, meaningful and mature.

Composition: A powerful feeling song, very metal roots, a nice suiting scratchy voice, and an obvious anger. The harmony of pre-chorus is brilliant and the chorus itself fits great. The very metal interlude is a bit over the top though.

Innovation: Moderately innovative, not something you would confuse for another song.

Relevance: Very relevant and meaningful. Another anti-bush, anti-Iraq song, but some good points made in it.

Musicianship: Nothings really shocking in their musical content, nothing that an artist would really pay attention to.




VALENTINES DAY (4.1)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics--------Composition-----------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

----------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: Good lyrics in this song, very repetitive at the end, but that is an effect used by Linkin Park, this sound is about lost love, and the lyrics seem very sincere, and contemplative.

Composition: The sound of the song Is very different then not only mainstream but also from their previous songs, with some unique aspects. It may seem simplistic at first, but a deeper listen reveals an array of instruments all playing beautiful harmonies,

Innovation: A very unique setup for a song, and overall it employs a very interesting set of instruments, and has a unique feel.

Relevance: Very relevant to many who have experience such things, I would almost dare to say all.

Musicianship: With a new musical template like this one there are eyes sure to look further then the standard song formula that every band and their dogs use.




IN BETWEEN (3.4)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

-Lyrics-----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

--------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: The lyrics are somewhat weak, all about the overly sung about lost trust, and looking for redemption. It’s not new for mike or Chester to sing about and I’m sure we can expect more to come. Side note is that this is Mikes first time actually singing in a song alone.

Composition: Very simplistic and almost sickening in its repetitiveness and predictable nature. Not unbearable but not something that I would listen to twice in a row.

Innovation: It defiantly sounds different, so point there.

Relevance: To me he doesn’t sound sincere and I don’t believe him.

Musicianship: I don’t think that many people will look to “In Between” and musically revolutionary.




IN PIECES (4.3)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

--Lyrics---------Composition----------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

-----------------------------------------------

Lyrics: Interesting lyrics, open to many personal applications, but centralizes on a person who doesn’t tell the truth, one who toys with emotions, Very deep lyrics and meaningful.

Composition: Good musical composition, similar to their other songs, but has some gems in their music. The verses have a certain romance but the chorus is where this song shines, the powerful raspy chorus and emphasis on the key words.

Innovation: A very good song with a unique feel even from the rest of the CD. It has Great use of syncopation and vocal harmonies.

Relevance: A very relevant song for many, who hasn’t had deceits tear something apart. A very moving song.

Musicianship: Its interesting use of music and details make this and interesting study for fellow artists.



THE LITTLE THINGS GIVE YOU AWAY (3.8)

(Song) (Music Video) (Lyrics)

-Lyrics-----------Composition---------Innovation-----------Relevance----------Musicianship

--------------------------------------------------

Lyrics: This song has some political and social lyrics, and although the lyrics are at some points are narrow and seems shallow overall they are good.

Composition: Keeping with the album the music is very simple with large detail taken into the every note, good harmonies and melodies, witch a rare guitar solo, and some different rhythmic beats.

Innovation: Defiantly different then mainstream, but doesn’t stand out next to some of the other songs in the album.

Relevance: Very relevant as the political topics are now a days, but not as clear-cut as some of the other songs.

Musicianship: In this song Linkin park does push a few limits on modern music and use some techniques usually not employed, but pulls it off.

5 comments:

heidi lou said...

ha. i like how they all have relatively good scorings.
big fan huh?

OnHech said...

Like i said, they obviously make "Good" music. They know what they are doing, and aren't just some backwater teenage angst band. I was disappointed in this album and was temped to give lower rankings but I recognize that this is good music.

Thanks a lot for commenting. And a note to others that this is my first musical review, and any constructive criticism of the layout would be unappreciated. . . er i mean appreciated.. :D

Also if you by any chance actually like an aspect, feed free to inflate my head a bit more and tell me what you like. It will help me make my pending reviews better. Thanks!

Tephrochr said...

Your outline brought me to tears, so powerful the feelings emitted from it were. I feel like Yoda.

Okay, straight to the point.

Loved it, your choice of words made me wish my computer had a set of speakers. Unfortunately your.. speeling hert mi hart.

I liked the setup though, easy to read, and you know where to look (for example, to find "No More Sorrow"'s innovation comment) later on down the page for other songs.
Impressed.

Devil From Russia said...

I think your ratings are too high. There is no point for having a 0-5 or 1-5 rating, if no one ever gets below a 3.

What I sampled of this album seemed like Green Day's American Idiot.. except.. not good and several years too late. You're not really different or innovative when you complain about the same thing everyone else in your field complains about in the same exact way.

I also think your rating seemed random:
For instance:
"What I've Done"|"Hands Held High"
Lyrics: 4 | 4.5
Composition: 4 | 5
Innovation: 4.5 | 4.5
Relevance: 4 | 4.5
Musicianship: 4 | 4

OVERALL: 4.7 | 4.4

You rate everything on "Hands Held High" as better or the same as "What I've Done", yet "What I've Done" ends up getting a whole 0.3 stars higher of an overall rating. This makes your system seem kind of pointless.


P.S: I am really sorry for taking so long to actually get to reading your post. I'm a crappy friend, but c'mon man.. for really long posts, split them up into sections!!!

OnHech said...

Thanks a ton Artem. I have no clue how exactly I got those erroneous numbers but I went through all of them again, and they have been fixed. I made the following Changes:

What I've Done
Overall Rating : 4.7 to 4.1

Given Up
Overall Rating : 3.6 to 3.7

Hands Held High
Overall Rating : 4.4 to 4.6

OVERALL ALBUM RATING
3.95 to 3.90

Just the fact that you spend enough energy to notice that makes up for your late comment!
--
For reference the way I got these number is that I firstly rated them on all 5 categories. Add them all up and divide by 5 giving the overall score, then dividing all the overall scores by the number of tracks. Then before I post I post, I replace all the numbers with stars. So somewhere along there I was on drugs or something :P

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