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The Hunting Party - First Listen Review


zuben7o7
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I've been a fan of Linkin Park since I heard Lying From You on 99x in Atlanta every hour in the Spring of 2004. That song is still my favorite to this day and Meteora is my favorite Linkin Park album.

 

I have seen the band many times all over the USA and consider myself a well-versed and respected fan in the Linkin Park community. Although I haven't been an absolute huge fan of an entire album of theirs since Meteora, LP has still brought the jams and are one of the best alternative rock bands of our generation.

 

With that said, I still don't feel like they ever reach their true potential on albums. I think they focus so much on a certain direction and that floods their minds on what an album should sound like. The reason their first two albums are so popular, especially amongst the early fans and casual fans, is the unique nature of bringing all the elements that are Linkin Park into one: loud guitars, riveting dualing lyrics from two great and very different vocalists, and electronics that kept it all together without ever gravitating to an electro sound.

 

With Minutes to Midnight, the band shredded that approach for an almost completely stripped down sound. There are some quality jams on MTM and I appreciate the album more now than I did in 2007, but even I only listen to this completely 2-3x a year. A Thousand Suns saw them go in the completely other direction, dropping the noticeable loud guitars for an almost completely electronic-rock sound. For a concept album, the album is overall very good. But much like MTM, I only truly love a few tracks. However, I feel if ATS was an album placed in an earlier decade, it would have much more respect than what it garners now in the mainstream. Then you have Living Things, the supposed mashup of everything the band has ever done into one big album. They failed miserably. Living Things is easily their worst album, with half of the songs sounding like a bunch of "seeds" strewn together and put on an album.

 

Now, we arrive at yet another mission for the band. The Hunting Party. Great album name. From the sound of it, this album was going to go more in the indie-pop-rock lane but quickly dropped (thankfully). Only this time, the band wanted to go straight back to loud guitars, raging screams, and newly-found hardcore drums. Its just the product that came out seems forced, almost garage band-ish if you will, and unpolished.

 

I just got done listening to The Hunting Party for the first time. I was completely underwhelmed, much to my disapointment. I like hard, heavy rock. I like jams. I was expecting jams and did not get what I was looking for. While I surely will enjoy this album with more listens, it overall doesn't pack the punch I was quite looking for and does little to change the current landscape of modern rock, much like the band said they were aiming for.

THE HUNTING PARTY

First Listen Review

 

KEYS TO THE KINGDOM

 

I had heard many times over the course of the past week that this song was the definition of filthy jams. I was expecting something that would just blow me away and a track I would probably want to play 5x over before getting to the second track. Unfortuantely, that did not happen. The elements are there. It's loud, it's heavy, Chester is roaring, and Shinoda sounds good. It just didn't translate right on my first listen. Going to take a bit to get used to way Chester sounds. I was expecting just a full on onslaught by the band here but it didn't deliver. I think Given Up, Lost in the Echo, Don't Stay, and Papercut are all better album openers. Seems shorter than it is. Chester sounds a bit like Chino from Deftones on their song Elite, although I much prefer the ladder.

5/10

 

ALL FOR NOTHING (FEATURING PAGE HAMILTON)

 

This song was almost completely forgettable upon first listen. The intro straight from Keys is unimpressive. Shinoda rapping in the verses... I thought he should be brought up in the mix vocally. The chorus sounded a bit catchy, if not poppy. Another generic guitar piece. Bass is loud and noticeable, which is cool. I think I will end up enjoying this track more way down the line and it has great potential live but upon first listen, it did little for me. I am completely unfamilar with Page Hamilton or Helmet so I didn't know how this song compared to them or shared his influence. Sounded similar to some of Rise Against's mainstream stuff.

4/10

 

GUILTY ALL THE SAME (FEATURING RAKIM)

 

The first time I listened to this track was the night it was suddenly debuted on Shazam. I was driving on the interstate and had to listen right then. I put my iPhone 5 speaker to my ear and listened while driving. Terrible idea. So underwhelmed. I thought Chester sounded so weak, thought the intro was borrowed from fellow Warner Bros. rockers A7X, and thought the Rakim rap section was miserable.

After about a month, I finally got into the track and now, I love the whole thing. This track also seems much shorter than its huge running time. Chester sounds great and the band is really jamming after the second and third choruses. The instrumental part of the bridge with Rakim might be the highlight of the album and he drops a really great 24-bar filthy verse. As of right now, this is my favorite track on the album.

9/10

 

THE SUMMONING

 

Typical LP prelude instrumental track. Not a whole lot going on music-wise but I do enjoy the piece and hope it is played live as an intro for a track. Reminds me of a longer Empty Spaces from A Thousand Suns.

7/10

 

WAR

 

First thing I noticed about this track is how completely raw it sounded. Very interesting mix. I heard a lot of people say it sounded like early Green Day and I don't hear it. Chester has a good delivery here. Better than I expected. Quality riff from Delson, much less punky that I figured, which is good in my opinion. I'm not a fan of quick 2 minute songs but this completely destroys Victimized from Living Things. Overall, I enjoyed this track more than the first two upon first listen.

7/10

 

WASTELANDS

 

I had heard a brief clip of this song and that was it, none of the live versions. The riff is definitely crunchy-jammy and up my alley, one of the better ones on the album. Shinoda drops some quality stuff here but it didn't stay with me. The beginning of chorus vocals are very poppy sounding, I do not like, but it gets better in last part of chorus. A solid, if not odd, track overall. I need to listen to this more to really get a better grasp on if this is my type of jam or not, but that could probably be said for most of the record at this point.

6/10

 

UNTIL IT'S GONE

 

Another typical LP mid-tempo radio single. At least the overall tone of this song is darker and moodier than, say, New Divide, Burn It Down, or even What I've Done. The intro is great with the synth but it's way too short. More generic guitars and uber-generic lyrics. Chester sounds good during the verses but not a huge fan of the first few choruses. The last chorus with the progression and last scream is a good change but overall, the song is too plain and repetitive.

5/10

 

REBELLION (FEATURING DARON MALAKIAN)

 

Definitely my least favorite song on the album upon first listen. I am not a huge fan of System of a Down and I can definitely hear Daron's influence here, altough System is much more brutal. Shinoda is cool in the verses singing but I hate the chorus. Guitar doesn't jam enough for me and the drums don't do much either. More forgettable, forced screaming. Really not sure about this song, was really hoping for a massive breakdown bridge or something.

3/10

 

MARK THE GRAVES

 

I've heard Thrice and Foo Fighters comparisons for this song and I can hear both arguments, especially the Thrice one. I am a big fan of both bands. Definitely an experimental rock song. I couldn't translate one thing Chester sang in the verses. Really all over the place kinda song but the guitar is good in a lot of places and the bassline is unique. I think I will end up liking this number much more after a few listens.

7/10

 

DRAWBAR (FEATURING TOM MORELLO)

 

Another interlude piece, but this is much different sounding than any of their other album interlude stuff. I really enjoy it. The piano and drums sound good together and you can hear Morello in background. He may not be jamming like he did on a Rage song but this is a good 2 minute piece that is subdued but interesting enough for repeat value.

8/10

 

FINAL MASQUERADE

 

Cool drum intro. Chester sounds good but not over the top amazing like I've seen in reviews. A good, quality ballad. Super generic guitars and overall song structure. Lyrics are definitely good. Much better than Powerless or Iridescent. I think this song might have been better on more piano-based stuff than guitar actually. WIsh they could make a Breaking the Habit-type track again (without rehashing old sounds). Quality track for a ballad but I'd prefer something more heavy at this part of the album.

6/10

 

A LINE IN THE SAND

 

I really enjoyed this track overall. It's not super epic like I had heard but it has a lot of great parts to it. Interesting to hear Shinoda sing regular verses and choruses then rap over a quiter part of the song. Chester sounds a little odd on the chorus. Some good jams going on in this song, but again, not exactly what I was expecting. The drums are very, very good on this track. Definitely heavy and definitely long enough for a lot to be going on. I hear more Thrice influence, but not much Metallica. Definitely better than the last few album closers.

7/10

 

The Hunting Party. I hope it grows on me. (I wish there were 2-3 more just gnarly rock tracks that exploded.) I think it will but it still doesn't stir the pot enough for me. It's great to have the band jamming on guitars again, and introducing more complex drums and basslines but a lot of the album feels unpolished and unoriginal. Was hoping for more signature riffing from Delson from the earlier days. Shinoda lays down some of his typical solid rapping but none of it stood out to me and he sounded far back in the mix compared to WTCFM and W&K on ATS (some of his best rapping, period). Chester is here and there on the record, great to have him screaming, but I prefer the screams of the early days, Given Up, Blackout, etc. These screams on this album are frequent but didn't rattle my core like those tracks did upon first listen. Chester doesn't feel epic on this album. I wish they still could incorporate more of their signature electronic sounds (Joe??) without sacrificing the overall goal of creating a visceral rock record but it seems like the band has a hard time getting it all together in one package like they did back in the early-2000s.

 

Overall, I feel like this is a step in the right direction for the band, I just feel the album didn't quite live up to the hype from the band (surprise, surprise). The album name and art, along with song titles are clever and better than its predecessor. The album destroys Living Things on all levels, which tells you how much Living Things sucks in my book. I look forward to disecting more of The Hunting Party and will update my review in a month, as my outlook on songs will surely be different, and hopefully for the better.

Edited by Preston
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Great review!

 

I look forward to disecting more of The Hunting Party and will update my review in a month, as my outlook on songs will surely be different, and hopefully for the better.

I think it will be nice if you do the new review in another post so we can compare it to the first listen review. Just a suggestion.

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