Sound — 7
A brief bit of history for you: I was a huge fan of these guys from their debut Nu-metal album "Hybrid Theory" back in 2000. They were in the driving seat of the Nu wave that hit everyone: they were heavy, melodic, poppy, and just sounded very fresh at the time. They then made - what I consider their best album to date - "Meteora" back in 2003, which was effectively more of the same. Then the band went on a break and didn't show up until 2007 with their new album "Minutes To Midnight" - produced by legend Rick Rubin - which was a fairly different take on their sound, sounding a lot more commercial, radio-friendly, and to be fair a little generic. Still, the album pleased the majority of fans and dragged in a lot of new fans. Now, think back a couple of years to 2010, when Linkin Park made their new album "A Thousand Suns", not only produced by Rick again, but now had Mike Shinoda producing, too, which had them changing their sound to an unprecedented extreme; to the point where it didn't sound like LP at all, thus alienating 80% of the fans. Mike Shinoda's response was that if they made another rock record that sounded the same, they would forever be branded Nu-metal, so this was a way of rebelling. Overall, it left alot of people annoyed, and was fairly average. Now, even though the last album wasn't that great, it is clear at this point that the album was a stepping stone for what was to come in the form of their latest effort "Living Things", produced once again by Rick and Mike, which is actually a pretty good album. Taking the electronic sound of "ATS" and the rock structure and elements from their heavy days, this album shows a completely fresh new sound for the band. Taking all the strengths from every album to date and amalgamating it into this new beast. Chester does what he does best, and I'd have to say this is some of his finest vocal work. For the most part, the hair on the back of your neck will sit on end, because his voice sores. But what is seeming to progress a lot more in the band, is Mike singing. He even gets his own song in the form of "Vicimized". And this is my problem with the newer material of LP. It would appear Mike wants to be in the limelight all the time, and with him co-producing it makes it even easier to have they say in doing it. I'm all for new additions to the band, or any band, but Mike's voice has never been a good one for me. It's ranged from bad to average. Sometimes the singing works in the album, but for the most part he should really know his place in tha band. For the most part though, the album is very engaging from start to finish.
Lyrics — 5
And this is where it has its biggest downfall. Chester proves time and time again that he is a prodigy at what he does and he isn't the problem; his lyrics are good and his singing is amazing. No, the main problem lyes once again in the form of Mike Shinoda. I found his singing average, his rapping dated and cheesey and his lyrics to be of the generic kind. He tries to make the band a lot more politically aware in - mainly the last two albums - the last three albums. Politics go hand-in-hand in punk music, so its something that is overused and done before. I love punk music, and many bands have proved you can talk about politics without hitting all the generic points. Unfortunately Mike doesn't stray out of it, and listening to what he has to say is a comeplete bore. And if he isn't rapping about oversaid topics, he's singing about things he has sung about countless times in the past. How many people can f--k him at this point in his career, really? It's a shame to say it, as I once saw Mike as an idol growing up, but I feel he is actually holding the band back; while at the same time pushing the band forward. It's a bittersweet thing.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, a massive improvement for me. Sure, the album isn't perfect, but the sound has evolved and morphed itself into a very interesting thing. Like I say, the main flaws with the album are Mike's overall contributions to the vocal and lyric writing side to the band. He's done a great job in pushing the bands sound forward, but I feel there needs to be a bit more confrontation and challenge in the band to stop any downfalls in what the band has and is achieving. If you're a fan of the old Linkin Park, you'll be pleasantly surprised by this album. It caters for fans of the old and new and if this is the sound of things to come, they have a fan in me.