A Thousand Suns
Warner Bros. Records
Rick Rubin is a genius. He has produced the best album The Avett Brothers have made by stripping away their unbridled energy and focusing on their songwriting, made Wallflowers frontman Jakob Dylan into the next coming of his father Bob Dylan, and reinvented Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dixie Chicks, all while producing Slayer albums. Now Rubin (along with keyboardist/ songwriter/ vocalist/ co-producer Mike Shinoda) has taken Linkin Park and made their best record to date, A Thousand Suns, by combining the beats and hip-hop influence of Shinoda and electronic mastermind Joe Hahn (Mr. Hahn to you), the Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde vocals of Chester Bennington, and the musical versatility of the other half (guitarist Rob Bourdon, drummer Brad Delson and bassist Phoenix).
“Waiting for the End” is an instant classic and a perfect example of all six members coming together to make a timeless track. Starting off with a beat that could have been ripped off of a Dr. Dre album, Shinoda comes in with a flow that instantly gets heads noddin’. He hands the mic to Bennington who commands the lead with a surprisingly well-sung (and controlled) verse. More vocals and harmonies come in while the beat swells. Shinoda takes the bridge and raps right into what should be the climax of the song, and then they overlap into one of those musical moments that just gives you chills. This is one of the best songs of the year.
Just like with the Avett Brothers, Rubin lets Bennington loose on the very next track “Blackout.” The music is ominous and industrial, but lacks guitar until about two-and-a-half minutes in, where Mr. Hahn showcases his turntable skills by DJing the screams and blowing your mind.
Incorporating speeches by J. Robert Oppenheimer, Martin Luther King (on the surreal, but brilliant “Wisdom, Justice, and Love”), and Mario Savio, Linkin Park takes their increasingly industrial rock and makes it more political (but nothing like Rage Against the Machine), yet more accessible. Their first two albums were straightforward hard rock with a hint of electronic thrown in. They had the remix album Re-animated, and then the surprisingly radio-friendly Minutes to Midnight afterward, but nothing has come together quite like A Thousand Suns. Rick Rubin has corralled everything that makes Linkin Park and made it more cohesive. In turn, he has once again produced (or co-produced in this case) another album that is easily the best in that artist’s repertoire. Whether a fan of Linkin Park or not, listen to this album and you’ll have a different (and better) opinion of the band and more proof as to why Rick Rubin is the best producer working today.
Linkin Park: www.linkinpark.com