Linkin Park | A Thousand Suns

After the Minutes to Midnight debacle, I was having some serious doubts that Linkin Park could deliver in their newest album, A Thousand Suns.

I’ll share my thoughts about LP before I tried their new album. LP to me was a band who sold out, didn’t have direction, and tried too hard. Minutes to Midnight was horrible compared to their previous albums, and I was particularly surprised because the album was produced by Rick Rubin.

MtM sounded like LP wanted to head to a new, more grown-up direction, but still didn’t want to get rid of elements of the old band. The result was a confusing array of less-than-mediocre songs that were obviously overdone and uninteresting beyond a few listens.

Now that you have the background, you can understand that my expectations going into this new album were not high.

I could not have been more wrong.

A Thousand Suns is an album done right. I love the concept of the album, I’m enjoying the songs, and I can finally understand what Rubin and LP were trying (but failed) to achieve in their previous album.

Gone are the emo teenage angst of the old LP. If there’s any chance of considering this album good, you MUST erase all previous images you had of the band. A Thousand Suns sounds nothing like the Linkin Park of old. It’s a breath of fresh air, it’s engaging, and best of all, it paints a story and makes you think.

The album concept is centered around nuclear warfare and is named after a line from a famous speech given by J. Robert Oppenheimer of atomic bomb fame. In other songs, clips of famous speeches by people such as Mario Savio and Dr. Martin Luther King make appearances and enhance the story line.

One thing that I noticed was that all the songs sounded different. Instead of over-amplified guitars and screaming in all the tracks, the new songs use a variety of instruments, layers, combined with LP’s usual instruments.

Chester is a lot more calm and introspective in this album, but still balances this with energy and passion. Mike is as good as ever, providing backing vocals and of course rapping, complementing Chester well.

Top tracks include “When They Come For Me,” ” Waiting For the End,” and my personal favorite thus far, “Wretches and Kings,” which starts off with Savio’s famous “put your body upon the gears” speech. To me, this song is the quintessential new Linkin Park, a perfect balance for the band.

There are some other hidden gems in the album, including the chilling “Wisdom Justice and Love” and an acoustic closing track called “The Messenger.”

All in all, I went into A Thousand Suns ready to dismiss it as another lame attempt of Linkin Park trying too hard. But I came out pleasantly surprised. LP managed to make a very solid album, with an overarching theme, fresh tracks, and most importantly, a direction. They have successfully reinvented themselves, and to that, I give them props.

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