I know, this isn’t a hip-hop album. Linkin Park is one of the few rock bands I really love, and there is enough hip-hop influence here for my regular readers, but more on that later. While their last couple albums had an electronic sound to them, I’m really digging The Hunting Party because Linkin Park has gone back to that heavy-metal sound that was predominant on Minutes To Midnight. Mike Shinoda continues to improve overall as a vocalist, sounding a lot better rapping as well as providing background and main vocals singing. Chester’s lyrics don’t always sound inspired on this album, but the overall sound is what keeps me drawn in.
The album starts with “Keys To The Kingdom”, which becomes more addicting the more you play it. Mike sings one verse, raps another, and handles background vocals while Chester gets his scream on during the chorus. The high energy continues and pretty soon we get the highlight for hip-hop heads: “Guilty All The Same” featuring a rare guest appearance from the legendary Rakim. Not only does Rakim destroy his verse, but we get vintage Chester on vocals and Brad’s guitar riffs hit hard. Next, we get a straight heavy-metal song with “War” before things get a little more emotional. After the single “Until It’s Gone”, the guitar riffs shine the most in the second half of the album.
Overall, I think this is a huge improvement from Linkin Park’s most recent albums. Besides the obvious Rakim collaboration, I also really enjoyed seeing them essentially make a System of a Down song with Daron Malakian (you could picture Serj & Daron singing “Rebellion” instead of Mike & Chester). As previously mentioned, some of the lyrics on this album don’t really grab you, despite the awesome sound behind them. I remember watching behind-the-scenes documentaries from Linkin Park’s early albums and seeing how hard they critiqued each other on their songwriting, and I wonder how no one managed to tell Chester that “and you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone” is such a played-out lyric in 2014. That aside, I’m loving the sound of this album, as it was my go-to album this year when I was pissed off and needed something loud.
My Grade: A-
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #6 on the countdown!