Linkin Park, "A Thousand Suns"

75 Billboard Rating

Linkin Park has certainly tinkered with its sound during the course of its previous three albums. But on its latest release, "A Thousand Suns," the six-piece rock act truly breaks the habit of everything we've heard from it before. The set is solemn; at times more of an industrial tone poem that puts Brad Delson's guitar decidedly on the back burner (and barely even in the oven) in favor of keyboards, samples and rhythm loops that frame these nine songs and six interludes. And though it may initially be hard to know what to make of such a drastic reinvention, as well as such heretofore unfamiliar affirmations as, "When life leaves us blind/Love keeps us kind," it does work. The fresh sound is fueled by the chill vibe of "Burning in the Skies," the hymn-like sensibilities of "Iridescent," "Robot Boy" and single "The Catalyst," as well as such aggressive, rap-style throwdowns as "When They Come for Me," "Waiting for the End" and "Wretches and Kings." The structures give vocalists Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda plenty of emotive space-and both deliver. Bennington, in fact, boasts the performance of a lifetime on album closer "The Messenger."

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