'A Thousand Suns' has definite charm
222After hearing the new "A Thousand Suns," I instantly realized that "Minutes to Midnight" was not that great of a departure. On the other hand, "A Thousand Suns" definitely does not sound like Linkin Park's music of the last decade either.
"ATS" is a concept album; the concept is based around nuclear warfare and warfare in general. The title "A Thousand Suns" comes from the Hindu Sanskrit text Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky that would be like the splendor of the mighty one," a quote made in reference to the atomic bomb.
Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has said, "On this record, the concepts blend human ideas with technology; human fears, your fear of what's going to happen in the world, the music kind of references that."
Rick Rubin returned to help produce "A Thousand Suns," released in September, and used Linkin Park's talents to explore their musical possibility. "ATS" has 15 tracks; unfortunately, only nine of the 15 are full songs, leaving six filler tracks: "The Requiem," "The Radiance," "Empty Spaces," "Jornada Del Muerto (Journey of the Dead)," "Wisdom, Justice, And Love" and "Fallout."
The album's full songs are "Burning in the Skies," "When They Come for Me," "Robot Boy," "Waiting for the End," "Blackout," "Wretches and Kings," "Iridescent," "The Catalyst" and "The Messenger."
Mixed within the tracks of the album, the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and political activist Mario Savio can also be heard. Savio was involved in the Berkeley Free Speech Movement; his "Bodies Upon the Gears" speech is found in the intro of "Wretches and Kings."
Linkin Park's previous albums were heavier, which is more of my forte. But in my honest opinion that isn't necessary when a band this talented makes a leap of faith; by that I mean going where no other musician has gone before. From the reviews I've read on "ATS," Linkin Park has created a new genre; I say that because you can find influences from rock, hip hop, techno and reggae blended together in such a way that it sounds very original.
When Linkin Park was recording "ATS," they said they wanted to do something original and different. The album features the band's first guitar solo, ("Burning in the Skies") and its first acoustic song, "The Messenger." The solo was unexpected for me, but it is organized quite well into the song; "The Messenger" was also unexpected but it is very beautiful and displays some of Chester Bennington's best vocals.
I consider myself very experienced with modern music, but even for me, this album is very difficult to label with any genre. "When They Come for Me" is the greatest leap and my favorite track. The first time you hear this song you may think it sounds off pace, or just plain weird. But after listening several times you'll see how spectacular this song is. Even though this number is most of the reason why the CD says "parental advisory, explicit content," the chorus is just epic.
On the flip side, the weakest song on the CD would be "Robot Boy." Although I agree with the message of the song, it's just nothing spectacular.
Overall, I rate this album 4 on a scale of 1-5. It's difficult for me to go any higher because of the nearly eight minutes of filler songs and because this album has very few standout tracks. But a 4 is still a high rating and Linkin Park deserves that, not the endless negative comments and reviews that they've been receiving.
So if you still have doubts about "A Thousand Suns," give it another shot; it grows on you. Trust me.
Alex Esplin is a junior at Dorius Academy. He enjoys writing short stories and is working on a novel; he also plays guitar and sings for a local band. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.