Linkin Park are calling their sixth studio album The Hunting Party the prequel to 2000’s Hybrid Theory. Bullshit. The Hunting Party, whilst containing some heavier pieces is still laden with over the top synthesised odds and ends and Mike Shinoda’s once powerful rap lines are now poorly lyricised verses that get lost amongst the wreckage. If this was the year 2000, there would be only one track (maybe) that could have made the end cut of the fantastic Hybrid Theory, that being the final track, ‘A Line in the Sand’, which is easily the best feature of this new album.
Despite odd tracks worth a listen, here and there, since the sophomore effort, Meteora, the majority of the Linkin Park releases have bordered on throw away albums. 2012’s Liking Things was a step in the right direction, albeit a small one, however it seems The Hunting Partyhas taken a step backwards or at least maintained the mediocrity.
‘Keys to the Kingdom’ kicks off the release and whilst Chester Bennington is in full voice, the structure of the track seems disjointed and lacks a rhythm. ‘All for Nothing’ featuring Helmet’s Page Hamilton is average. It’s the quintessential Linkin Park dribble since 2003. Shinoda rap that seems held back, stock standard chorus, Hamilton’s involvement is barely recognisable. ‘Guilty All the Same’ features rap artist Rakim. It seems Shinoda may be bereft of ideas if the band needs help from the outside?
Then there’s the punk track, ‘War’ that sounds more like a Rise Against B-side before ‘Wastelands’ shows how to take a Rage Against the Machine riff and lose it amongst electronic ambience and obscure drums. Again, Shinoda’s lyrics are lame: “This is war with no weapons, marching with no stepping, murder with no killing, illing every direction, first, no sequel, do the math, no equal John with no Yoko”. If it rhymes, it seems Shinoda doesn’t care what it says. Dr.Suess had a similar line of thinking. Of course, Chester is there with the obvious chorus. ‘Until it’s Gone’ is the radio friendly single as he croons with that all too familiar Linkin Park ambience we’ve seen and heard before over the last decade.
System of a Down’s Daron Malikan features on the exciting track, ‘Rebellion’. The riff he creates is killer, though you can’t help but think he’s taken this from a SOAD session surplus. However we are then treated to Lesson 101 – How to Ruin a Great Riff by Linkin Park. The synthesised overuse damages any chance this song had. The track called out for an aggressive approach, Chester and Shinoda give us luke-warm snuggle lyrics. Such a waste of a great SOAD riff, not even a late Chester scream approach saves this.
‘Drawbar’ features RATM’s Tom Morello, an instrumental that would look right at home on any Radiohead album. Piano intro, light drums, gentle guitar work, it’s a snore fest. The stadium sing-a-long ‘A Final Masquerade’ brings back that once again familiar Linkin Park riff. You can imagine the crowd singing in unison, arms side to side in the air to this dribble.
Finally, we are saved by the band’s final track, ‘A Line in the Sand’. Heavy riff, Chester in full flight and a decent Shinoda croon that builds up anticipation. A shining light amongst the debris of yet another Linkin Park disappointment.
1. Keys to the Kingdom
2. Guilty All the Same
3. The Summoning
6. Until it’s Gone
8. Mark the Graves
10. Final Masquerade
11. A Line in the Sand