OAAR: Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight (2007)

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Ah, yes..Minutes to Midnight, Linkin Park's third studio album and follow up to Meteora released 4 years prior. I remember the first time I listened through Minutes, not for any of the songs in particular, but more for the fact that Chester dropped the word "fuck" for the first time after two albums (and seven years after the release of Hybrid Theory) of not saying anything worse than "damn" (if my memory serves me correctly). Now, I wouldn't call this a controversial move, nor a necessarily surprising move lyrically but it was definitely an "it's about time" moment for a band as heavy as Linkin Park was in the early days. It's funny, actually, giving Minutes to Midnight another dedicated listen through because it felt like Linkin Park decided to make up for lost opportunities to offend this time around.

So what did I think of Minutes to Midnight? Well, let's take a look at some highlights and low lights. First up is the track "Given Up" which is the last song Chester screams in that he actually doesn't ruin or at least take away from the track as a whole. Paired with lead in track "Wake" we're greeted with a pretty decent beginning of an album. "Bleed It Out", Mike Shinoda's first vocal lead opportunity, is a fun tune with simple hip hop lyrics but features what can be considered to be my favorite way to build out a track starting with a simple lead in then building and layering instruments on top coming to a section where you just can't help but to tap your toes. Unfortunately, though, Chester's screaming once again prevents this track from reaching a perfect 5 score.

The middle of Minutes to Midnight is littered with mediocre tracks including low points "Shadow of the Day" and "Hands Held High" - two of the most boring and lackluster tracks on the album. Luckily, toward the end, the songs improve quite a bit. "In Between" once again provides another example of how great Mike's singing voice is and how well it and Chester's blend when used wisely for harmonies or vocal doubling. Finally, we're left with a good closing tune featuring some great vocal harmonies and excellent drumming in "The Little Things Give You Away". Quite honestly it's probably the best closing track of the Linkin Park albums we Opportunity Assassins have reviewed to date not to mention it surprisingly exceeds the 6 minute mark, a rarity for Linkin Park. Overall, I'm reminded of a question a professor asked me because it perfectly describes Minutes to Midnight -  "Are you striving for mediocrity?"

Author: Jake

It's no surprise that everyone considers Minutes to Midnight Linkin Park's 'experimental' album, but it needs to receive equal pub for how badly the experiment failed.  As you can see, I gave the album a 0 for experience score, because quite frankly there is no rhyme or reason to the songs or the order or anything that happens over its 43 minutes, and I refuse to allow you, dear reader, or anyone else to argue that "it's held together by intentionally sounding nothing like any other Linkin Park album!"  Let's parse Minutes to Midnight from top to bottom for no other reason than because we can do so and not lose any intrinsic values.

I handed out a 1 for Discography Score simply because "Bleed It Out" and "What I've Done" make my 5-star/road trip/party perpetual playlist.  "What I've Done" may be a bit too catchy, but both of these songs share the weave of intensity and melody that has been a Linkin Park trademark since the beginning.  I've come to establish Linkin Park as a "4" band in my head, meaning that I would almost never change the song/station should my iPod or the radio flip over to one of their songs.  "Shadow of the Day" and "No More Sorrow" are exactly that, and would probably have worked better as songs on other albums.

The real problem comes when get to the 3s and below.  "Wake" is quite literally an arbitrary instrumental opening track, although it sounds cool despite its uselessness.  "Given Up", "Leave Out All The Rest", "In Pieces", and "The Little Things You Give Away" all suffer from incompleteness or band-formulaic writing, and a surprising number of the tracks on this album seem to end abruptly amidst a lengthened out-chorus.  The shit really storms on "Hands Held High", as the album's nadir squanders a cool marching snare beat and well constructed vocal harmony melody by overlaying Mike Shinoda's incessant political rap.  This track is a paramount example of what happens when you take a political message and force it into song form, rather than creating a song that also carries a message.  A band like Rage Against the Machine can pull off the latter (and may still piss you off), but the world should have taken it's cue in 2004 from Eminem's sonic abortion "Mosh".  Much like "Hands Held High", "Valentine's Day" and "In Between" are saved from 1s by a couple redeeming melodic points and nothing more.

I understand that music is rebellious by nature, but Minutes to Midnight seems to simply rebel against good music.  Hopefully Linkin Park never forces us to go back there.
Author: Pete

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