Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight
Warner Brothers (5/15/07)
Rock / Alternative
Minutes to Midnight is touted as the album that showcases Linkin Park’s growth. Instead, it’s an album which sees the band pushing the extremes of its sound further in each direction. Gone, for the most part, are the dueling vocals from Mike Shinoda (the rapping) and Chester Bennington (the singing), which used to anchor a majority of the band’s sound in each song. It pops up once or twice, but is more the exception than the rule here. The music is tighter than ever and the band seems to continually meld together, which is something to be said for a six-piece.
“Given Up”, the first song on the album (following a brief instrumental opener), is a nice page out of the screaming, hard-rocking Linkin Park playbook, while the melancholic “Leave Out All the Rest”, is a complete 180 and it’s here that the juxtaposition of the extremes becomes apparent.
The best part of Minutes to Midnight, though, is that the band is comfortable enough to not have to rely on its old standards. Sure, there are songs like “Given Up” and “No More Sorrow”, which are chock-full of angst and intensity, but the greatest moments of the album are the slower tracks like “Shadow of the Day” (probably one of the best songs the band has ever recorded) and the politically charged “Hands Held High” (with some of the best lyrics the band has ever written). Then there’s a song like “Valentine’s Day” that does its best to merge the two ends of the spectrum.
The separating of the dual vocals has worked wonders for the band, as they’ve crafted a full, interesting album with plenty to prevent boredom. Even a track like “In Between” has enough melody in the background to keep it from being completely bland. Of course, there’s also the up-tempo “Bleed It Out”, which seems a little too forced and probably could have been cut in favor of something a little more fleshed out (the band does point out that this song was included for the â€œfun factorâ€ it offers).
(As an aside, the accompanying booklet features brief explanations on the development of the album and each track, an excellent insight into the band for fans or the casual listener.)
Linkin Park’s debut was a breath of fresh air back in 2000, and the band is only getting better with age and experience. It’s clear the band took its time with this release, and it really shows with all the little nuances scattered throughout the album. Even if you were able to ignore all the hype and strip the Linkin Park name from this album, it would still be a contender for year-end best-of lists.