Sound — 9
First of all: the overall sound differs a lot from the "classical" Linkin Park sound they once started out with, as in the heavy Hybrid Theory Era - this leads to a lot of controversy between quite a few fans. After all, it is a rather experimental concept album. The baseline-sound of the album is best described as electronic rock - imagine on a scale of "Minutes to Midnight" by LP meets "Intruders Must Die" by the Prodigy. Quite a few speech/sound-samples from political speeches are used. Now, for a Song by Song analysis: 01: The Requiem (2:01): a short electro/piano entrance with female singing and a background-chorus 02: The Radiance (0:57): speechsample and some work by mr. hahn in the background, electronic 03: Burning in the Skies (4:13): softer singing, chester in clean voice for the chorus and an edited background-choir with mike shinoda as main voice for the verses. reminds a lot of "Hands held high" or "what I've done". 04: Empty Spaces (0:18): battlefield-sounds 05: When They Come For Me (4:53): *heavy* electronic with an arabic touch, Very Bass-heavy, drums steadily rocking the rhythm in the background. Shinoda rapping again, good to hear. short interlude by chester. 2nd-heaviest track on the album in my opinion. 06: Robot Boy (4:28): piano, a slow choir of voices. again, lot of electronica giving the basic melody. the far-away screams of chester near the end send shivers down your spine. 07: Jornada Del Muerto (1:34): the slow choir singing on in japanese, a nice fade-out to robot-boy. 08: Waiting For The End (3:51): pace picks up again. Distortion kicks in, along with shinoda rapping. The chorus by chester is a heeeavy contrast to the verse, just his singing and drums with some background-voices. In the end, both clash together. 09: Blackout (4:39): synthesizer-intro, till chester's screaming wakes you up and LETS HIM DO THE RAPPING... What the.. And it definitely sounds awesome. Screaming on the chorus, rapping on the verse. This is weird, especially when the electronics kick in hard for the interlude. Mike sings in the end, for a pumping transition into: 10: Wretches and Kings (4:10): this is a BEAST compared to the rest. Intro-Speechsample and extremely heavy electronics. Shinoda doing the verse-rap and chester in an agressive chorus. This is as heavy as it gets on A Thousand Suns. Mr. Hahn gets to work the table too, nice to hear. 11: Wisdom, Justice, and Love (1:38): another speech-sample(MLK), a dark wind in the background. Fades out robotically. 12: Iridescent (4:56): slow, sad, piano, mike and chester singing. got a slight 80s-synth-pop-touch to it. it feels like a follow-up to "shadow of the day". 13: Fallout (1:23): a first little outro from the feeling. Robo-voice and a dark background. 14: The Catalyst (5:39): the 3rd in power on this album. Mike and chester giving away a grand finale. More electronics again, in a nice symbiosis with the heavy guitar-backing. 15: The Messenger (3:01): acoustic guitars, chester singing. When I first heard this track I had a weird combination of green day's "when september ends" and "the little things give you away" in my head. This is a definitive last song on the album as soon as you hear it starting. Overall: 9, it is a *concept*-album, and the concept in itself fits rather nicely. maybe an 8.5.
Lyrics — 10
01: The Requiem (2:01): the female singer gives a short insight of what's to come, with a line from the second-last song, the cataclysm. We 02: The Radiance (0:57): Speech-Sample by Robert Oppenheimer, with a hindu parable "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds". Seamless link from the Requiem, as a dark second intro to the album. 03: Burning in the Skies (4:13): "I'm swimming in the smoke of bridges I have burned - so don't apologize, I'm losing what I don't deserve." lyrically the negative outcome of "what I've done", stating that we've screwed up. "I use the deadwood to make the fire rise, the blood of innocence burning in the skies". 04: Empty Spaces (0:18): sound-sample, battlefield-sounds with a sergeant talking 05: When They Come For Me (4:53): a short ode-to-self by shinoda - "I'm a tough act to follow". Nicely fits the fan-discussions. 06: Robot Boy (4:28): deeply motivational song, not the deepest of lyrics, pretty straightforward statement to get your a** up and do something about it instead of just complaining how bad everything has become. 07: Jornada Del Muerto (1:34): sorry, japanese somehow didn't compute 08: Waiting for the End (3:51): about a new beginning, the personal restart, "I'm picking up the pieces, know where to begin, the hardest part of ending is starting again". In a deeper sense also a reflection of their previous works, heavily selfcriticising. 09: Blackout (4:39) hard to tell, these lyrics seem very shallow at the beginning, and you get distracted by chester rapping them, but they have a deeper meaning. could be about breaking up a relationship as well as about a manipulative government. this is a tough one. 10: Wretches and Kings (4:10): if you thought "no more sorrow" was too shallow for being a heavy political song, THIS is the one for you. The intro is the speech Free Speech Activist Mario Savio held upon the Berkeley Entrance Steps in 1964 ("you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels upon the levers upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop") - and the lyrics follow up just as heavy. "the people on top push the people down low", "there's no sh*t we don't run when the guns unload" - "wretches and kings, we've come for you". 11: Wisdom, Justice, and Love (1:38): martin luther king. "Injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.." keyword of the speech: "a true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order". Where is this going? 12: Iridescent (4:56): "remember all the sadness and frustration - and let it go" 13: Fallout (1:23): the lyrical fallout of "burning in the skies". 14: The Catalyst (5:39): "God save us everyone, we're a broken people living under loaded gun". This is a echoing scream of all the evil things in "what I've done". 15: The Messenger (3:01): a song of compassion, of remembering who you are, of literally coming home. A beatiful ending. The lyrics give you a lot to think, to phantasize, but they do not miss to carry their basic meaning the instant you hear them. Solid 10. This album got meaning. First word to the last.
Overall Impression — 10
This is *definitely* no Hybrid Theory crawlback. They tried something new, another different angle of approach to their own musical experience. If maybe you thought "man, this is too weird, soft and experimental for me" when you listened to "Minutes to Midnight", then "A Thousand Suns" maybe just isn't for you - but as it still got it's heavy side at times, and a lot of interesting ideas finally come true (like chester doing the rapping in blackout - the first time you hear it, the style will blow you away), my appeal to everyone would be: "Get it, or go to a friend who owns it, and listen to it, in it's full length, without any breaks, at least once." You *will* get the urge to tap back or maybe even forward a song at first, but I really recommend the full deal at least once before you start choosing the tracks. At times when listening to this album I really missed the "old" LP, the hard and heavy times. But then I listened to the lyrics, fused with the new sound, and figured that Linkin Park has evolved. "When They Come For Me" put this up really good... Some of the old songs made you jump up steadily, made you pump the adrenaline, go haywire, but.. They lacked soul at times. And those guys are here to change that.