A walk in the park

TheHunt­ingParty is an un­ex­pected — and pos­si­bly risky — shift for Linkin Park.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By Mikael Wood

Be­fore Linkin Park’s lat­est al­bum was born, a dif­fer­ent Linkin Park al­bum died. It hap­pened not long af­ter Mike Shin­oda, the Los Angeles band’s cre­ative mas­ter­mind, be­gan build­ing songs for the fol­low-up to 2012’s Liv­ing Things.

Like that record, the new mu­sic was thought­ful, melodic, full of de­tailed elec­tronic tex­tures – in keep­ing, ba­si­cally, with the sound of the many young al­ter­na­tive rock acts that Linkin Park once in­spired.

“And there was a day when I lis­tened to it and thought, ‘ oh my God’,” Shin­oda re­called re­cently. “I like to lis­ten to this type of mu­sic, but there’s too much of it out there, and I don’t want to get lost in the oceans of it.”

He was sit­ting in a North Hol­ly­wood record­ing stu­dio and tapped the mix­ing con­sole for em­pha­sis. “Mean­while, there’s this other thing that I want, and it’s not be­ing fed by any­body. So that’s what I need to do.”

Shin­oda, one of the group’s two vo­cal­ists along with Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, promptly scrapped the demos he’d been work­ing on and started again, chan­nelling in­flu­ences he hadn’t called on since Linkin Park’s early days: Hel­met, Mi­nor Threat, the Swedish punk band re­fused.

He de­cided to record to tape rather than with dig­i­tal soft­ware, and to con­cen­trate on per­for­mances rather than post-pro­duc­tion edit­ing.

“I told the guys in the band, ‘ We need to weed out any­thing that doesn’t feel di­rect and vis­ceral’,” Shin­oda said. “This record had to be raw as hell.”

The re­sult, re­leased June 17, is The Hunt­ing Party, Linkin Park’s sixth stu­dio al­bum and its most ag­gres­sive in years, with fuzzy gui­tars, break­neck tem­pos and as much scream­ing as singing.

Pro­duced by Shin­oda and gui­tarist Brad Del­son (fol­low­ing the band’s lengthy stint with rick ru­bin), it marks an un­ex­pected – and pos­si­bly risky – shift for a group whose early hits did as much as any to pave the way for Imag­ine Drag­ons and Bastille, to name two in­her­i­tors that have found commercial suc­cess with a soft­eredged ver­sion of Linkin Park’s syn­thed-up rock.

“They were just in the mood to do some­thing heavy again,” said Daron Malakian of Sys­tem of A Down, who co-wrote and played gui­tar on Re­bel­lion. (other guests on the al­bum in­clude Tom Morello of rage Against The Ma­chine and Hel­met’s Page Hamil­ton.) inun­dated with “safety rock sold as edgy al­ter­na­tive mu­sic”. As an ex­am­ple, Ben­ning­ton sang the high-pitched acous­tic-gui­tar riff from Imag­ine Drag­ons’ It’s Time.

Where’s the chutz­pah in that? he asked, al­beit us­ing an un­print­able word for part of the male anatomy.

There’s no dis­agree­ing with Ben­ning­ton’s point about a void: Hard rock has never been less rel­e­vant to the larger mu­si­cal con­ver­sa­tion than it is right now, with only a hand­ful of bands – Queens of The Stone Age, Tool, foo fighters – mak­ing records that at­tract even a frac­tion of the at­ten­tion that Bey­once’s and Luke Bryan’s get.

Yet Linkin Park’s re­turn to a more vig­or­ous sound might also have been mo­ti­vated by the recog­ni­tion that it was be­gin­ning to flail. The band’s pre­vi­ous two al­bums sold far fewer copies than its early al­bums, while Liv­ing Things in par­tic­u­lar seemed to lack the en­ergy that used to de­fine its mu­sic.

Shin­oda ac­knowl­edged that the group’s re­cent work may not be among its best.

“Liv­ing Things was a very care­ful bal­ance of sonic el­e­ments,” he said, re­fer­ring to traces of pop and dance mu­sic. “But look­ing back, I’d say if we’d gone any fur­ther in that di­rec­tion I would’ve been bummed out.”

Still, Shin­oda in­sisted that The Hunt­ing Party was not a prod­uct of busi­ness savvy – the band’s at­tempt to ex­ploit an un­der­served mar­ket – but of its de­ter­mi­na­tion to fol­low a cre­ative im­pulse. In­deed, he de­scribed con­sult­ing Linkin Park’s man­age­ment for ad­vice on the commercial vi­a­bil­ity of an ag­gres­sive rock al­bum in 2014 and said he was told it was hardly a sure thing.

But how the al­bum fares is less im­por­tant than what it rep­re­sents, Shin­oda said.

“There are def­i­nitely people who think Linkin Park is un­cool,” he said with a laugh. “But I’ve al­ways thought there’s some­thing oK – if not awe­some – about be­ing on the out­side of things. And by mak­ing an al­bum like this now, I think I’m stand­ing be­hind that.” — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

it’s a fact: Linkin Park’s 2000 de­but, Hy­bridThe­ory, sold more than 10 mil­lion copies. Mike Shin­oda (left) in­sisted that the band’s new al­bum is not an at­tempt to ex­ploit an un­der­served mar­ket, but of its de­ter­mi­na­tion to fol­low a cre­ative im­pulse.

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