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Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight

Linkin Park, Minutes To Midnight

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

LINKIN Park’s Minutes To Midnight is one of the most eagerly anticipated rock albums of 2007 and the good news is that it doesn’t disappoint.

From epic opening instrumental Wake to emotive final track The Little Things Give You Away the album thrills, exhilarates, commentates and even heartbreaks.

It’s the sound of a band throwing off the shackles of the nu-metal era to deliver a collection of work that has to rate as their most accomplished to date.

Wake is a clever opening in that it slowly comes to life, teasing listeners with the crackle of a needle hitting vinyl, some mellow keyboards and, finally, a crunching guitar riff.

It sets things up well for the hand-clap intro and fury of Given Up, another teaser that suggests Linkin Park might not have progressed that much at all.

As Chester Bennington delivers volatile lines like “I’m sick of living” and “tell me what the fuck is wrong with me” over the top of metallic power riffs you might begin to wonder where the long-promised sound progression is coming from.

But from that point onwards, the album changes gear somewhat and really unfolds into beautiful life.

Metal purists are sure to lament the slushy electronics, strings and falsetto vocals of Leave Out All The Rest – but it’s an honest, heartfelt piece of songwriting that’s delivered with genuine passion.

And Bleed It Out is an ambitious offering that tip-toes the line between old and new, Shinoda’s distinct rap style taking centre stage over the top of some genuinely foot-stomping beats, piano loops, lively guitar riffs and a blistering chorus from Bennington.

By the band’s own admission it’s a party record and one that’s sure to become a firm live favourite – the vibe is utterly infectious and even hints at old-skool Motown mixed with modern rock.

Shadow Of The Day unfolds with all the brooding intensity of Joshua Tree-era U2, complete with emotional lyrics (“and the sun will set for you”) and a sound that exemplifies radio friendly. It’s tame by comparison to a lot of their stuff but evidence of a band that’s determined to break out of the nu-metal pigeonhole (into nu-ballad territory?).

Credit to them, though. They’re clearly here to stay and with diverse material such as this look well on their way to establishing themselves as a band capable of going the distance with the likes of The Rolling Stones and U2 (or bands of that size and longevity).

Current single What I’ve Done follows and offers another thrilling mix of old and new styles, as well as a keen sense of regret that’s backed by the emotive images displayed throughout the video. It’s evidence of the band at their most outspoken – and they’re not afraid to point an angry finger at the world’s ills.

What I’ve Done is one of three tracks – along with Hands Held High and The Little Things Give You Away – that demonstrate a newfound maturity and a hard-hitting social commentary that’s difficult to ignore no matter what you think of the music. Needless to say, they provide Minutes To Midnight with three of its most outstanding moments.

Hands Held High, in particular, offers an exhilarating mix of contrasts – military-funeral drums and an “amen” chorus underscoring a hard-hitting flow from Shinoda that bemoans the current state of America, from its political leaders to its urban state of decay.

It’s on a par with Shinoda’s own Kenji on his Fort Minor album for its ability to combine excellent songwriting with thought-provoking sentiment.

The album cranks things up a notch with No More Sorrow, a crunching blend of metal and classic rock that further demonstrates the progression of Brad Delson’s guitar work, before once again slowing it down for the lovelorn Valentine’s Day.

And then we’re into the final stretch – hungry for more, but suitably impressed.

In Between finds Shinoda at his most tender, singing his lines over the top of a cello line and displaying an admirable sense of restraint (the song continually threatens to expand without ever doing so), while In Pieces draws on a layered approach that eventually gives rise to another thrilling guitar moment from Delson (charting classic rock territory).

As loud as things get, however, the song never loses its sense of structure or gives in to the Goth-style wailing that sometimes marred earlier recordings with its youthful exuberance. Perhaps it’s the presence of Rick Rubin as producer, or just that Linkin Park have grown up and found plenty to say.

Epic final track The Little Things Give You Away is arguably one of the finest songs they have ever written. Inspired by tragedy, it was finished in the wake of their visit to New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and features another blast at the Bush administration.

Rather than shouting, however, the track features sombre guitar riffs and a falsetto approach that lends extra credence to lyrics such as “all you’ve ever wanted was someone to truly look up to you and six feet underwater I do”.

It’s the sort of song that manages to combine the emotional intensity of Snow Patrol (think Run in terms of guitar structure early on) with the passion of Green Day (on Wake Me Up When September Ends) – it could well become a timeless anthem and brings the album to a magnificently memorable close.

The only thing left to say is rush out and buy this album. It may have been one of the most keenly anticipated releases of 2007 – but now that it’s arrived it’s also one of the best.

Download picks: Bleed It Out, Shadow Of The Day, What I’ve Done, Hands Held High, In Between, The Little Things Give You Away

Track listing:

  1. Wake
  2. Given Up
  3. Leave Out All The Rest
  4. Bleed It Out
  5. Shadow Of The Day
  6. What I’ve Done
  7. Hands Held High
  8. No More Sorrow
  9. Valentine’s Day
  10. In Between
  11. In Pieces
  12. The Little Things Give You Away

  1. Great review of a cracking album. Linkin Park’s best to date and one to blow the pretenders away…

    Matt    May 16    #
  2. Interesting the references to U2’s Joshua tree cus the inside artwork on the cd is such an obvious recreation of the Joshua Tree inside artwork, with the desert replaced by the ocean

    Andy    May 24    #