Monday, May 14, 2007

Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight is like my Dad in a dress

While in my head I KNOW that it's my Dad, something just isn't right. Chester and Mike have both said over and over again they wanted to make a NEW sound to Linkin Park, and forgo the Rap/Rock stigma that has plagued them. Their 3rd Album(We don't count Live in Texas) not counting the Jay-Z collaboration, which kicked ass by the way, will be released tomorrow, but AXB Enterprises was sent a copy a week ago. We've been listening, and the absence of Rap kind of took away from the album. Replaced with a recurring "Clapping" instead, it sounds a lot like every Hoobastank album ever put out. This is not a bad thing, for Hoobastank rocks, but my mind KNOWS it's Linkin Park.

Here is the AXB Enterprises rundown of Minutes to Midnight.

It starts off with a nice little 1:41 Intro Track called "Wake". While both cryptic and moving, it sets the stage for what’s to come. It has all the partially distorted sound of Hybrid Theory, but in reality works as an all but useless instrumental crescendo to nothingness.

"Given Up"-Our first introduction to the clapping. We'll return to this. Standard issue guitar and mediocre writing really tells us what to expect from the album. The chorus really sounds like Chester, but Chester singing in some lighter band as it seems. It's not terrible, but its by no mean memorable.

"Leave Out All The Rest"-An Intro that reminds us of the glory of Crawling, but then vocals that remind me of some artsy ballad. Quite a bit more Pop than I would like, but overall one of the stand out songs on the album. No sudden changes or alterations to the formula of ballads. It stays on course and delivers a solid effort.

"Bleed it Out"-Is that rap? Not technically. Is that clapping? Yes it is. With a sound like a Frat House impromptu concert it has wicked potential. A simple chorus adds to Mike Shinoda's erratic but structured(yeah..)verse. Chester has his standard grain to his voice, when this song it just doesn't fit. The beat is just too simple and "polite" to sound hardcore.

"Shadow of the Day"-NIN Closer beat starts it off, which can usually mean a good thing, but then its another ballad. This is one of those Sampling dilemmas that arise. Should you use something so iconic then not deliver an equally dark anthem? Sure artistic licence is just that, and you can do whatever you want, but it just doesn't seem right. Much like the entire album.

"What I've Done"-Gothic and menacing beats elude to "One Step Closer", with a sound very reminiscent of early LP, and of the Intro "Wake". The vocals remind this blogger of Eve 6. Don't ask me why, but they do. It's ok, and that's pretty much it. You've all heard this as their single. You know what it sounds like.

"Hands Held High"-Mike Shinoda's debut as a Solo on a LP album. I've always thoroughly enjoyed Mike's sound, and this song is no different. With a simple snare and choir harmonies as a base it is a highlight of the album. Political and social commentary abound, while they say that there is no Political basis of their songs, personal views share glimpses of the truth in lyrics.

"No more Sorrow"-Is that Clap-Clap-Clapping I hear? Seriously Rick(Rubin), if there were over 140 songs to choose from, what are the odds of the clapping? While it would sound good with one, it draws away with 3 in one set. Very dark guitars and drums demands attention, while Gerard Way vocals sound a little forced. I finally realize who this album sounds like. I'll return to that. Not good, not unbearable.

"Valentine's Day"-Another ballad, but with better lyrics this time, at least they relate to one another. Another Pop song that would be accompanied by a Black and White introspective video, possibly of them all on the bus either writing in journals or laughing about an untold joke.

"In Between"-"let me apologize to begin with. Let me apologize for what I'm about to say." These lyrics start the song, and they were smart to not have this as the CD opener, because people might just listen. Another solo from Mike, yet this one is in no way as fantastic.

"In pieces"-Gay Disco beats overpower vocals on this track. Repeating the verse is not the formula for a great song. The guitar solo is equally impressive as it is unneeded. This song just doesn't deliver.

"The Little Things Give You Away"-Their "New Orleans Song", but not. "the Levees are broken...", "Six feet underwater", "washed away, as a nation simply stares". Chester and the band can say anything they want, but when you release a 6 minute PLUS song integrating very political disregard it shows. Not a stand out by any means, but that's fairly standard on the album.

Choice Tracks;

"Hands Held High" & "Leave Out All the Rest" are the stand outs on the album. Go ahead and get them on iTunes or the download service of your preference.

If you are a die hard LP fan this cd is a good addition to the collection, but if only because it is Linkin Park. If you are NOT die hard, just go out and purchase Dead Letters by The Rasmus instead. Same formula with better results.

Overall: B

AXB Enterprises
Photo Courtesy of Linkin Park

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