I wasn’t ready. That’s my conclusion about Linkin Park’s latest album, The Hunting Party. For those of you who know this album, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing a review about an album that came out almost a year ago. It’s because I wasn’t ready to listen to The Hunting Party when it was released. I had really enjoyed Linkin Park’s previous album Living Things – it was the gold star of what a great album should be. The music was strong, the writing was solid, the content was memorable and heart grabbing, and the entire body of work was simple. It was stripped down and simple in a way that really makes you appreciate something. It renewed my love for Linkin Park.
But then the first single from The Hunting Party was released. I was excited to listen to it, but when I heard it, it wasn’t impressive. It didn’t catch me other than to rub me the wrong way. Sadly, I brought this mindset to the table when I first listened to The Hunting Party in its entirety. My reaction was poor. I was let down and disappointed. I skipped through half the tracks because I saw nothing redeemable about them within the first minute of play. The songs sounded rough, even cheap, like they had been done on no budget and in a rush. They must have recorded this in Mike Shinoda’s basement was a real thought that went through my head.
I put the album away, saying out loud that I’d had enough. Listening to it once was enough, no need to ever play it again.
But that wasn’t how it turned out. Months went by. I watched as people touted The Hunting Party as being an incredible album – but this was Linkin Park, so they’ll always have fans that love whatever they do. I paid little attention to it. I saw others who seemed to have the same feeling as me: that it was crap. It was an unimpressive album, with very little going for it.
That’s when it happened. I was in the mood to listen to Linkin Park one day, so I pulled them up on Spotify and hit shuffle. One of the first songs that came up was from The Hunting Party. I let it go. I figured I might as well let it play, it was my own fault for putting it on shuffle rather than picking each song. So Wastelands started to play, and I realized that it wasn’t that bad of a song. The opening music was kind of catchy, and a sort of strength came in behind it as Mike Shinoda started to rap. Chester’s voice wailed through it with a kind of desperate passion. It was good, and for the first time I recognized that. I listened to that song four times in a row before I took Spotify off shuffle, and started at the beginning of The Hunting Party with the first track Keys To The Kingdom.
Now, I’m not fond of the opening of Keys To The Kingdom. I really think they could have done without Chester’s little screaming monologue, but once you get past that, it’s a great song. It has power to it, and Mike’s raps are on point. This song even boasts my favorite lyrics of the album, “Careful what you shoot, because you might hit what you aim for.” How fantastic is that?
The entire album is full of these little gems, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to be ready to listen to it, but I do know that it was me and not them. I can see myself sitting in front of Linkin Park, saying the words, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I think a lot of times life tosses things our way and we’re not always ready for them. Sometimes we jump into things – commitments, projects, relationships – that we’re just not ready for. Down the road, when things have changed, when we have changed, we can understand a bit better. Maybe we are then finally ready to give that commitment a fresh start, or to dive back into a failed project and attempt to make it better. Maybe we mend a bridge with someone we’ve hurt, ready to make things right.
Time is a game changer. What seems worthless today might tomorrow be very precious to you.
Check out The Hunting Party by Linkin Park. Give it a listen, maybe two. Be on the lookout for those crisp lines and catchy beats. It’s a forceful album, with a lot of passion and frustration balled up in each song. It’s the lion’s snarl of Linkin Park albums.