Change is not easy and, particularly when a musical legend like Rick Rubin is urging you on in the studio, it must be even more difficult. However, Linkin Park handles their explorations of a direction forward with impressive grace here. Fueled by the band's trademark raw emotion and fascination with sound textures, Minutes to Midnight is an impressive achievement.
One of the musical gifts of Linkin Park has been demonstrating how to successfully channel raw anger into expressive art. Knowing that, it comes as no surprise here that some of the album's best moments come in dealing with the emotional impacts of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. In similar fashion to his smash hit "Where'd You Go" by the side project Fort Minor, Mike Shinoda delivers a devastating rap about the Iraq War on "Hands Held High" that speaks eloquently for millions. No wonder the band pitches in "Amen" choruses as punctuation.
That anger boils over as the martial metal-punk sound of "No More Sorrow" sounds the rallying cry for an angry public ready to take back their country and world. The band delivered the effective closing song "The Little Things Give You Away" after touring New Orleans after the impact of Hurricane Katrina. The failings of our current presidential administration are laid bare as all too personal and human.
Quieter moments abound on Minutes to Midnight. At times the band seems to be reaching toward a feeling of transcendence found in many of U2's ballads. At times this is quite effective as in the sad, but gorgeous, "Shadow of the Day." Other times it has a tendency to suck the life from a song. However, with Linkin Park's tendency to experiment with sound, it is rarely boring.
Top Tracks on Minutes to Midnight
- Bleed It Out
- Shadow of the Day
- Hands Held High
- No More Sorrow
- The Little Things Give You Away
Another Triumphant Project for Rick Rubin Helps Linkin Park Turn the Corner
Most of the hip hop influence has faded from Linkin Park on Minutes to Midnight. However, rap-metal as an effective genre has essentially faded from the scene, and, instead of sounding like a band grasping for the relevance of the past, Linkin Park sounds like they are moving forward as a rock band even though they are not always comfortable. Perfection is not present in these grooves, but a restive band working hard under the guidance of one of popular music's most nurturing producers is apparent throughout.