Album Review: Linkin Park, 'The Hunting Party'

After spending two albums exploring electronic textures, Linkin Park has rediscovered guitars. "The Hunting Party," the group's sixth set overall - and first since 2003 without producer Rick Rubin - is a blast of muscular fury that's as fierce and raw as Linkin Park has been since its career-opening tag team of "Hybrid Theory" and "Meteora." The difference is, 14 years on, the sextet's blend of metal, rap and prog flavors is even more seamless - and more dynamic, as evidenced best by shifting arrangements throughout, particularly on album closer "A Line in the Sand," whose stark, airy start gives way to a blustery, metallic fusillade.

Frontmen Mike Shinoda and Chester Bennington continue to find fresh ways to intertwine their vocals on these angsty, angry and occasionally politically minded tracks. But the stars of "The Hunting Party" are really guitarist Brad Delson, who co-produced with Shinoda, and drummer Rob Bourdon. The latter is in pummeling, monster form throughout the album, while Delson fires off a vertiginous array of commanding riffs and head-snapping solos that sound pent-up after 2012's more restrained "Living Things," which was the band's fourth consecutive No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200.

Linkin Park brings in some big-gun collaborators as well: rap god Rakim on "Guilty All the Same," System of a Down's Daron Malakian on the fist-waving "Rebellion" and an ambient guitar patch from Tom Morello on the instrumental "Drawbar," a short and surprisingly low-key track that serves as a moment of relief amid the fury. It's a "party" that has bagged plenty of prime game. But the real story here is Linkin Park itself: It's great to see a band return to the style it built its reputation on without sacrificing the advances it has made since. 


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