Music

Linkin Park: A Thousand Suns

This is Linkin Park's attempt at creating their own version of Dark Side of the Moon...and, shockingly, it works!


Linkin Park

A Thousand Suns

Label: Warner Bros.
US Release Date: 2010-09-14
UK Release Date: 2010-09-13
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is revered as one of the greatest albums of all time because it was one of the most ambitious albums released in that era. The idea of crafting an entire album that was designed to be a continuous musical composition, rather than several separate songs, was a revolutionary idea in rock music at that time. Sure, concept albums existed before Dark Side of the Moon, but virtually all of them were conceptually based around a lyrical theme, rather than a musical one. While Dark Side of the Moon did have its singles, the innovation and progression it introduced forever changed the rock and roll landscape.

Other groups have tried, with varying degrees of success, to release albums that came across as one continuous composition, but most groups that attempt this feat are part of genres in which that type of album is expected. Progressive rock groups such as Rush and Porcupine Tree, or technical metal bands like Meshuggah and Between the Buried and Me, are the best examples of success in this venture. Not since the album that started it all has a mainstream rock group with a worldwide following in the hundreds of millions attempted a feat such as this -- until now.

Once the poster boys of nu metal and the leading band among angst-ridden teenagers, Linkin Park has become a much more mature, well-rounded group in the past four years. The release of 2007's Minutes to Midnight heralded the beginning of a new era for the California six-piece, one focused on pure hard rock and mostly free of the acrimony of youth. The haunting vocal melodies, piano sections, and lack of electronics divided fans, with some praising the band's style shift and others criticizing them as sellouts. The band's new album, A Thousand Suns, is likely to divide listeners even further, as they continue to evolve beyond their roots into even more new territory. For those who can appreciate it, this album is undeniably the most intelligent, majestic album of Linkin Park's career; a stunning testament to the band's ability to expand beyond the boundaries set for them by critics and fans.

To its immediate credit, the album does see the return of Mike Shinoda's rap vocals, an element sorely missed on Minutes to Midnight. Shinoda does have a great singing voice too, but relegating the singing mostly to Chester Bennington re-clarifies Shinoda's roles in the band as MC, keyboardist, and occasional second guitarist. The album also sees an increase in Joseph Hahn's electronics over Minutes to Midnight, but not in the traditional form of record-scratching and one-shot sound effects. Rather, Hahn creates a separate musical landscape in the background of the entire album, layering and accentuating the primary instruments in certain parts, and acting as an organic, spacey music bed in others. The record scratches and sound effects do still exist, but they take a backseat to the new sounds of the innovative DJ.

The album has fewer actual "songs" in the traditional sense, with almost half the album's tracks being interludes or instrumental sections. However, that is the beauty of A Thousand Suns. In itself, this album is one 48-minute song that ebbs, winds, and flows through different sections, almost like the movements of a classical symphony. When experienced in order from start to finish, this album is an incredibly powerful composition, with many subtle touches that require listeners to replay the album multiple times in order to catch them all. Unfortunately, this does somewhat diminish the enjoyment of individual songs apart from the album as a whole, but tracks like "Wretches and Kings", "When They Come for Me", and "Blackout" are still quite excellent on their own. Listening to them as part of the whole album just improves them that much more.

A Thousand Suns is completely unexpected, beyond anything that Linkin Park fans could have ever imagined possible from the band. This album is a glorious work of art from a band that has become so much more than what they once were. Linkin Park may have been criticized in the past for trying to be more than they are, but this album proves that they are not constrained at all in their artistry. A Thousand Suns is the best attempt yet at reaching the heights of Dark Side of the Moon, and while the album may not perform as well as its inspiration in this age of file sharing and iTunes, it is still a stunning work of musical genius that rivals the older album in inventiveness and quality.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

‘The Avengers’ Offer a Lesson for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.