by Jesus Ibarra
With number one singles like “The Catalyst”, Linkin Park’s newest record is set to become one of their best ever. Debuting at the number one spot on Billboard, A Thousand Suns is a departure from their established sound, yet very much an organic evolution into what I think is a very natural step for this amazing band.
I’ll disclose now that I grew up on Linkin Park and they are one of my most favorite bands, so I’ll try to limit my bias as much as I can. Before I bought this record, I kept hearing from online music sources that this was very much a departure for the band musically, and also hearing from the band that this is a more old school record in that it is meant to be listened from beginning to end non-stop. This gave me pause, but I’m a music junkie, so it was a short one. I bought the record, listened to it in one sitting and tried to digest it, but it takes more than just one listen. And I agree with the band this album is so much richer and denser that it is better to listen to it as a whole. Which is why I can’t go song by song listing what I love and hate about them.
However, I can comment on the album as a whole. I enjoyed it, more so than I thought I would. It is very much a concept album that’s grand and epic, but the concept may change with the interpretation. It evokes different feelings at different times with different people. I’ve read things stating that this record is about the end of the world, an aftermath of nuclear war, the story of humanity from hope regret to redemption; I have even heard that this is a political machine from which the band is spouting their propaganda. I don’t see that last part, but I do see some of the other aspects I have mentioned. Additionally, the band has stated they went in making this album with the theme of the human story in mind.
The artwork also evokes an array of feelings with its dense images, as does the name of the record. For me this is a record about humanity in its darkest hour, whether that is facing the end of the world or just facing a climatic event, and how humanity manages to cope with it beyond the destruction and desolation. As I listen again and again, I get a sense that the human story, the human condition is there and it’s trying to find a way to survive. Musically this is not a rock album or an electronic album; I would classify this as a record of art. That is to say, that it blends so many genres: rock, electronic, dance, rap, and pop, that it really doesn’t have a genre.
The band has stated that this is truly an experiment on their part and it shows as each track is layered with density from the various genres I just mentioned. When you buy this record, and I highly recommend you do, the opening pages of the liner will tell you what the band tried to accomplish, and they succeeded. They didn’t just make a record, they made art and that is saying something in this day and age.