Sound — 9
From the off it's clear that Linkin Park have taken a different route from their usual. The band have been talking for a long time about changing their sound and have succeded. In fact, personally I find it hard to compare it with Meteora and Hybrid Theory, it seems that different. There is a more mature sound and attitude to the album. There is little to find in the way of bridges where Chester nearly rips his throat apart screaming(besides in Given Up)and very little guitar parts that would suggest nu-metal, or are in any way heavy. Songs like Shadow of The Day, Leave Out All The Rest and In Pieces are reminiscent of songs like Easier To Run. People may feel cheated because of a lot of the synth noises(or rather sounds that are distinctly un-guitar like)but anyone that isn't narrow-minded should enjoy and appreciate how the album was put together. It's a lot less produced sounding than previous albums, and it's evident with Rick Rubin at the helm of the record. However, it isn't all doom and gloom, as songs like Given Up, No More Sorrow and Bleed It Out offer something rare(by this albums standards anyway. There's Mike's signature rapping, which is lacking on this record, and the classic heavy songs that Linkin Park can offer. It is a different sound, and may disappoint people who are too stubborn to enjoy a new sound, but for people who can see past the change, they will appreciate it.
Lyrics — 7
Lyrics, for me, have been a weak point for Linkin Park for some years. There's also parts in this album where the lyrics seem very corny, and very teenage angst type of feel, but overall the lyrics have matured. What's partiularly noticeable is the new type of material they began to write about. In "Hands Held High", Mike raps in protest rather than the bordering on emo material he sang before. The lyrics are a lot less predictable, and less lyrical clichs are to be found, and overall it's an improvement
Overall Impression — 8
Like I said before, I can't compare this to the other two albums, because the sound is quite different. It's in a different league completely, but still it's hard to find things I hate about it. On occasion, the slower songs can drown in themselves, and there's a lack of upbeat, heavier songs, but overall it's a welcome return for a band that will be put down no matter what they do. But they have matured and awful lot and have crawled out of their nu-metal shell, and is hard to classify them now. Most impressive songs would have to be "Given Up", "Shadow Of the Day", "Hands Held High", "No More Sorrow" and "Valentines Day". Great record, and looking forward to hearing more from LP already.