Sound — 7
As you all probably have heard, the sound is very different from every other Linkin Park release. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Though some (if not most) people will have trouble getting use to a slightly more docile Linkin Park, one should keep an open mind when listening to this particular release. Though a lot of people talk about the surplus of ballads and songs with a slower tempo, another thing is different in this album too, and that would be the almost trippy sound that Linkin Park albums generally filled with. Yea, there's still a heavy amount of distortion, but the sound in total is different. Also, there is a lot less of a Rap-Core feel. It seems like Shinoda was making a cameo as some sort of super producer, rather than an active band member, of course other than his attempt at being a lead vocalist.
Lyrics — 8
Despite a few cliche lines here and there, the lyrics are top notch on this album. The few verses that Shinoda does have are absolutely amazing. The subject matter is good as well, I especially like the last track, "The Little Things Give You Away", which is about Hurricane Katrina. The topics are original and the lyrics are as well. I would rate this the best Linkin Park album in terms of lyrics, and one of the best albums from anyone in a long time, also in terms of lyrics. The vocals by Chester are also the best I've ever heard from him. Shinoda's ballad is another story. I don't get what they were trying to accomplish, if anyone should have sang that track it should have been Chester. It was a little too timid, especially in comparison to some of Shinoda's other verses on the album.
Overall Impression — 8
Though it's entirely new, and entirely different, there are still a few gems which the strictest of Linkin Park fans will enjoy (Bleed It Out, Given Up, In Pieces.) Of the "softer" Linkin Park tracks, none of them truly stand out as amazing. They were trying to do something, but weren't fully able to accomplish it, but I predict their future releases will expand on their new sound. The only track that I can say that I genuinely hated was Valentine's Day. Hardcore fan or not, this album is definitely worth a listen to and I'll say that most people should purchase it, if only for the curiosity aspect. All in all I think it was a solid title and with time the band will be able to capture the sound/mood that they just quite couldn't get a hold of in this release.