OAAR: Linkin Park - Living Things (2012)

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Welcome to Opportunity Assassins Album Reviews (OAAR), where we put each album to the test to determine which is the best of all time so you don't have to. You've just so happened to trip over OAAR on Contemporary Artist Tuesday (ignore the fact we posted this at 1AM on Wednesday), where we take a look at bands that are now or were recognized to be tearing up stages all over the world during the 21st century. We explained the rules behind the Opportunity Assassins Album Reviews using the super impressive statistical formula but here's a quick refresher course for the forgetful (or the lazy, whom we embrace with open arms).

1) Every track is scored on a 0-5 scale.
2) The scores are totaled up to create a weighted average based on run time.
3) Each album receives a score of 0-5 for how it is in comparison with the other albums in the artists's discography.
4) Each album receives an "experience score" for how good the album stands as a whole over time.
5) All of the numbers from steps 2-4 are gathered up to give us the Total Opportunity Assassin Album Review Score.

That's it. Simple as creating a good old fashioned Wisconsin Bonfire. With that, let's jump into our first Opportunity Assassins Album Review with Linkin Park's 2012 album, Living Things.

Living Things, the fifth independent studio effort by Linkin Park definitely hearkens back to the edgier, guitar-driven days of Hybrid Theory and Meteora.  Sadly, the album does little more than hearken.

Linkin Park appear to have fallen into a trap of recycling albums in the best AC/DC tradition.  Living Things, like many of its predecessors, begins with a more heavy metal sound, evolving into melody driven pieces then devolving into electronica-rap experimentation, ending finally with a song that plays like the album's end credits.

Strong tracks like "In My Remains", "Burn It Down", and "Skin to Bone" are offset by tracks that seem to be a recycling of Chester Bennington's favorite melodies ("Roads Untraveled") or Mike Shinoda's favorite cadences ("Until It Breaks").  When the album's best cut ("Burn It Down") seems to be one long hook, rather than a complex song, it's hard to get too excited.  Don't be surprised upon first listen to think, "Have I heard this album before?"  You have.  And that's not necessarily a good thing.

Author: Pete

Living Things provides us with quite a lot of good mixed up with a lot of bad held together by mediocre. Vocally, I'm thrilled to hear more singing out of both Chester and Mike especially when providing doubling duties on some tracks. An obviously Mr. Hahn (samples) heavy influence in writing Living Things actually works quite well in several cases while missing on others. The worst tracks stem from disruptive bridges, of which there are plenty, poor track layout and an obvious "single track" writing style (as opposed to a "single album" writing style). This is probably part of why the album doesn't even hit the 40 minute mark in total length.

At the shitty end of the spectrum is the midpoint track, "Victimized". Honestly, I don't think there's a better title for this song, as it accurately describes your auditory senses after having to suffer through this mess. Not only that but book-ended by two of the better songs on Living Things that are night and day different. Add to that the heavy screaming that Chester is still holding onto for whatever reason, I guess it's a good thing "Victimized" is only a short 106 seconds long. After the audacity (a word that should be used more often in music related articles) of "Victimized" who would've expected such a spectral 180? "Roads Untraveled" is not only a wonderful track, but is also a song that is an automotive karaoke delight you can't just help but sing along with. Hell, even if you don't sing, I'm sure one day you'll find yourself whistling or humming the tune while walking down the street. Simple, not weighed down by too many vocal flairs and featuring the subtle use of Chester doubling Mike's chorus line after the second verse, Roads Untraveled is the shining light of Living Things.
Author: Jake

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