Monday, October 24, 2016

Worst Of The Band? The Hunting Party Is Disappointing Linkin Park!

The Good: Moments of vocals, One or two stray lyrics
The Bad: Musically awful, Vocally inconsistent, Overproduced, Short, Terrible rhymes and lines
The Basics: As I progress through the works of Linkin Park this month, my hope is that The Hunting Party truly is the bottom of their barrel!

When my wife suggested Linkin Park as my October Artist Of The Month, she did so because she loves the band's early works. Given that Minutes To Midnight (reviewed here!) is one of her favorite albums, I was open to putting on a lot of Linkin Park. But when I listened to the debut album of Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory (reviewed here!), we decided to leap forward to Linkin Park's latest album, The Hunting Party.

And it sucks.

Yes, as a reviewer, I want to give sophisticated analysis, but sometimes the bottomline right off the bat is worthwhile. The Hunting Party is a huge departure from early Linkin Park - so much so that my wife stopped us on our first listen and had me listen to some Dio and Dragonforce just to hear some metal that was not just flat-out terrible. Like Blue October leaping over into Christian Rock and mortgaging their fanbase, Linkin Park goes in a terrible new direction on The Hunting Party with a metal rock sound that is sloppy, loud and far more chaotic than it is ever musical.

With only a dozen tracks clocking out at 45:12, The Hunting Party might be awful, but it is very much the album Linkin Park intended to make. All twelve tracks are written by Linkin Park (three are co-written by the group). Linkin Park's members contribute all of the lead vocals and the primary instrumentals. Two of Linkin Park's members are credited as co-producers on The Hunting Party, so it appears they had almost entire creative control out of the work.

That, alas, does not make it any better.

Opening with the screaming of "Keys To The Kingdom," Linkin Park makes a noise akin to death metal in its sound. The song transitions to something more musical before it ends with a clip of a child talking?! Most of the instrumental accompaniment on The Hunting Party just guitars thrashing to keep tempo and some of the most generic drumming I've ever heard. The guitarwork and percussion on "Guilty All The Same," for example, sounds like any of a hundred garage bands playing across the U.S. tonight.

Vocally, The Hunting Party has all of the elements one expects from a Linkin Park album. There is singing, which tends to transition into screaming. There is screaming, which often leads into rapping. And there is rapping which competes with the instrumental accompaniment and often leads to more screaming. On The Hunting Party, the screaming sounds less an expression of angst and more a formulaic element that is expected and predictable than audacious.

On the lyrical front, Linkin Park seems somewhat tapped out on The Hunting Party. The Hunting Party features songs with lazy, generic lyrics like "There's no peace / Only war / Victory decides who's wrong or right / It will not cease / Only grow / You better be prepared to fight" ("War")! Linkin Park once had something to say and on songs like "War," it feels like they've forgotten how to say anything well!

The rhymes on The Hunting Party seem less original than on other Linkin Park albums. While the band uses many obvious rhymes, they still manage to use better diction than some pop-rock artists. On "Final Masquerade," Linkin Park mixes the banal with the sophsticated when they sing "The light on the horizon was brighter yesterday, / With shadows floating over, the scars begin to fade. / We said it was forever but then it slipped away, / Standing at the end of the final masquerade" ("Final Masquerade").

The raps on The Hunting Party seem similarly unimpressive. With rapped lines like "Roll credits, to get it, / The show's done, / They're talking for just talking, / But meaning they got none, / None of 'em come proper, / They talk like a shotgun, / But how many got bred with integrity, / Not one / So no, I'm not afraid to see these suckers hold a blade to me / Ain't a way to shake the ground I built before you came to be" ("Wastelands"), Linkin Park seems to simply be rapping because it is what fans expect of them occasionally, as opposed to using that style well.

Ultimately, The Hunting Party is a flat-out disappointing, musical mess that is more jumbled than it is stylistically diverse. It is a compelling argument that Linkin Park jumped the shark some time ago.

For other Artist Of The Month works, please check out my reviews of:
Unplugged: The Complete 1991 And 2001 Sessions - R.E.M.
Blackstar - David Bowie
Tunnel Of Love - Bruce Springsteen


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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