Linkin Park • The Hunting Party • Warner Bros • US Release Date: June 17, 2014
“All you f*cking lames go… careful what you shoot because you might hit what you aim for.” Apparently, that’s how Linkin Park rolls on latest LP, the aggressive The Hunting Party. Don’t get it twisted – Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda did not come to play around this time!
“Keys to the Kingdom” opens The Hunting Party with ample angst and testosterone. Chester Benningtonis fully invested, screaming “No control, no surprise / tossed the keys to the kingdom…I’m my own casualty / I f*ck up everything I see…” Mike Shinoda matches the energy: “I can still bring the pain so / Y’all stuck in that same flow / I got that insane flow…” “Keys,” hence, ends up being a favorite.
“All For Nothing” (featuring Page Hamilton), keeps things fiery, intense, and enjoyable. Shinoda continues to let the f-bombs hang out: “Kick back, there’s no other way to say it / so let me break this f*cker down for ya…” Makes you wonder, how did The Hunting Party escape the parental advisory, explicit lyrics sticker?
As if “All For Nothing” were ‘light listening,’ a closing interlude foreshadows “the heavy sh*t…” to come on yet another gargantuan cut, “Guilty All the Same.” Linkin Park continues going hard, receiving an assist from legendary rapper Rakim. After completing a trio of dynamic rock, mysterious instrumental interlude “The Summoning” arrives intense and unsettling.
“War” proceeds, with ambitious rollicking tempo and more ‘straight at your chest’ metal. The brief cut is an open book, exemplified through simple lyrics such as “War, destroyer,” conveyed in dramatic, dynamic fashion by Bennington.
An anti-war message continues slyly on “Wastelands,” with Shinoda asserting “This is war with no weapons / Marchin’ with no steppin’ / murder with no killin’ / illin’ every direction.” Bennington finishes things off: “In the wastelands of today /when there’s nothing left to lose / and there’s nothing more to take…while the future slips away / and your hope turns into fear / in the wastelands of today.” It’s a predictable chorus, but “Wastelands” is by no means horrid.
“Until It’s Gone” eases off the gas a might, but it’s by no means light-hearted, even with thoughtful message “Cause you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” The guitars remain jagged and the drums continue to pound. “Rebellion” definitely continues to provide ‘balls to the wall’ rock. The guitars maintain sickness, further accentuated by a guest appearance by Daron Malakian (System of a Down).
“Mark the Graves” is more instrumental than lyrical, but it’s not a bad thing. At five minutes in length however, more brevity would’ve been nice. “Drawbar,” featuring Tom Morello executes brevity well, delivering a captivating instrumental lasting shy of three minutes. Still, with every Linkin Park album, while the interludes are expected and sometimes interesting, you wonder if an album absent of them would function sufficiently.
Penultimate cut “Final Masquerade” is enjoyable, though predictable. If nothing more, the energy remains high-flying. The lengthy “A Line In The Sand” concludes the album.“A Line in the Sand” could be described as foreboding, mysterious, and ambitious. It’s not necessarily a ‘championship clincher,’ but it is interesting.
Overall, Linkin Park shows improvement over a recent string of albums, namely questionable efforts Minutes to Midnight (2007) and A Thousand Suns (2010). Still, proclaiming that The Hunting Party is exceptional and thrilling from top to bottom would be an overstatement. The Hunting Party is good, arguably above average, but don’t call it a ‘classic.’
“Keys to the Kingdom,” “All for Nothing,” “Guilt All the Same,” “Wastelands”