Linkin Park received both praise and heavy criticism for their latest effort, Minutes to Midnight. I'll be the first to admit that I was disappointed when I realized that the days of rock/rap were over for the hugely popular band. Of course, any time you take the world by storm, there will always come a time when the excitement and newness fades.
Like all bands, Linkin Park is looking for that way to combine the exploration of artistic expression with a renewed relevance to contemporary culture. The result was Minutes to Midnight, a surprising mix of styles and genres that both reward and disappoint the listener simultaneously.
Is the new album worth a listen? Sure. Is it worth a purchase? Can't say for sure. Fans will surely be divided on this one. If you demand the combination of rage and heartbreaking vulnerability, you will be disappointed. If you feel a kinship with the band based on the past and you're willing to evolve alongside the band, you may be pleasantly surprised.
If music is an expression of life, Minutes to Midnight expresses a growth within the band, though perhaps a growth that is still fumbling to find a solid identity post-trauma. Bands like Linkin Park, Nine Inch Nails, and Korn, though all very different in style, all made it big through the combination of expressing their personal traumas with an unusual vulnerability. The measure of continued success, however, depends somewhat on the artists' ability to grow both as people and as musicians.
Trent Reznor has lost fan base because people tend to grow up. They mature, God willing, and leave behind them some of their childish rantings. One would hope that people eventually come to terms with their wounds and traumas and find the ability to forgive and move on. Artists who stay locked into a perpetual irresponsible youth phase lose their fan base to maturity and tend to find themselves somewhat irrelevant to the next generation.
Linkin Park shows us that they are willing to grow and to change. They still have good music, so we can't throw them out simply because they didn't provide us with another In the End or Papercut.
Those of you whose Linkin Park experience is incomplete without a good scream will still have a little juice through songs No More Sorrow and Given Up. If you want a little Limp Bizkit feel, check out the Hands Held High and Bleed It Out. Of course, What I've Done is already a hit on the radio and several movie soundtracks.
For the more melodic side, check out Shadow of the Day, The Little Things You Give Away, and Valentine's Day. Linkin Park is more political here, referencing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the War in Iraq. Regardless of their point of view, it's refreshing to see that they can look beyond their own hurt and engage the world around them.
Minutes to Midnight is worth listening to. It currently graces my list of top ten albums of the year thus far.