Sound — 8
This album seems to depart farther from the bands previous sound on albums such as Hybrid Theory at times, however at other points on the record, there are beats or phrases semi-reminiscent of the older Linkin Park sound. The sounds range from heavy pulsing beats to softer piano ballads, and all the way to an acoustic guitar anthem at to close the album. This record has been in the works for almost 2 years and in that time the band has been on a self-declared quest to find new and innovative sounds and they did not fail. A Thousand Suns features many different percussion sounds, mostly electronic, but there is also a fair share of organic percussion sounds as well. Synthesized keyboards are heavily used to broaden the soundscape and vocal effects complete the picture. Brad Delson has clearly delved deeper into the realm of guitar effects, obvious on tracks like "When They Come for Me" and "Wretches and Kings" although tracks such as "Burning in the Skies" feature a more familiar Linkin Park tone. Joe Hahn takes a much larger DJ role in this album as compared to Minutes to Midnight (2007). His largest feature is at the end of the track "Wretches and Kings" where there is a clear scratch solo at the same level of "Cure For the Itch" of the 2000 album Hybrid Theory. Also throughout the album, predominantly in "Blackout" you can hear Joe mixing samples of vocals, like in the beginning of "Don't Stay" (Meteora 2003) There are also 3 instances of recordings of famous speeches mixed into tracks, either as and intro in "Wretches and Kings" or as the basis of the entire track in "Wisdom, Justice, and Love" which features a speech from Martin Luther Kind Jr. Overall this is a very diverse album. Although having many new and fresh sounds, there are still traces and nods towards the older styles on Linkin Park to be found on A Thousand Suns.
Lyrics — 8
A Thousand Suns' lyrics take dynamic leaps from Mike Shinoda's standard lyrics about his musical views, all the way to the end of the world. Chester's lines seem to steer towards a more expressive and emotion feeling. Lyrical themes repeat throughout the album. For example the intro track "The Requiem" features some of the first few lines from the next to last track "The Catalyst". These lines from "When They Come for Me" seem to sum up a major theme that is represented across the album: "Once you have the theory of how the thing works, Everybody wants the next thing to be just like the first, I'm not a robot" Mike's lyrics in this song lash out against the people who have been saying that Linkin Park should have stuck with their early Hybrid Theory sound. This album's goal was to depart from previous Linkin Park records and create a new sound, so it's natural that the lyrics would represent this concept. Vocally the album shows many new and familiar sides of both frontmen. Chester's vocals range from heavy frantic screams in "Blackout" to soft controlled and emotional vocals in "Iridescent". The song "Waiting for the End" has a very unique, almost foreign sound while "The Messenger" features heavy soulful singing on top of acoustic guitar. Mike returns to his rap roots for several tracks like "When They Come for Me" and "Wretches and Kings". The song "Waiting for the End" has seemingly reggae influenced raps. He also contributes his singing voice in songs like "The Catalyst" and several other points throughout the album. A new addition for this album is group "chanting" vocals found on "The Catalyst" as well as other tracks. Some of these feel like a worthy addition to the song, while others simply feel like a set-up for a live audience participation section. Finally there is a very interesting vocal in the opening track, "The Requiem". It sounds like a computer generated female voice singing a segment of the lyrics from "The Catalyst", "God bless us everyone, will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns, for the sins of our hand, the sins of our tongue, the sins of our father, the sins of our young."
Overall Impression — 9
This album, in my opinion, should be judged by itself, and not compared to previous Linkin Park albums. It's much to different from past records to be compared. This new sound is definitely a new direction for Linkin Park and, in my opinion, is a very good one. The band seems to slowly but surely be working its way toward the true Linkin Park sound, and this is another piece in the puzzle. To me, the most memorable songs from A Thousand Suns are "The Messenger", "Iridescent", and "Burning in the Sky". These three tracks stand out on the album and have stuck in my mind when I wasn away fromt the album. A great aspect of this album is its consistency. Each time I listen through the album, I feel like I have listened to a true album, not just a collection of songs that happened to be recorded around the same time. Even "The Messenger", a track so distant from anything else on the album seems to blend into the experience. Each song still maintains it's own traits so it doesn't feel like the same song repeated over and over. The album just flows and makes an original album experience. I don't see myself listening to this album by skipping from track to track, but instead starting at the beginning and listening all the way to the end, because the album as a whole builds on itself and flows so well.