Linkin Park – The Hunting Party

Linkin Park The Hunting Party Album Cover

Linkin Park –  The Hunting Party Album Cover
[source: Warner Bros.]

I remember when Linkin Park first teased The Hunting Party; before we even knew the name of the album. All it was, was a heavy guitar riff. This was somewhat unexpected after the more eletronic vibe of Living Things, and it’s electronic dance music remix album, Recharged. Most people were sure it would be an EDM album. Living Things was good, but it is by far my least favorite of Linkin Park’s albums. The riff brought intrigue and excitement to my worrisome mind.

I’ve written in the past about my experience with Linkin Park in the post “Linkin Park – Not A Robot.” That post was written before Living Things, but my thoughts on Linkin Park still remain true; I think they are awesome. The Hunting Party bares it teeth, lunges into my ear canal, and rips apart my perception of Linkin Park.

The Hunting Party has a personality of its own. It wants the hunt. It eagerly awaits its prey. Prey that needs to be rocked apart. Prey that thinks rock is too “poppy.” The guitars are in the spotlight, and the drums are strong. The album demands the volume to be cranked up. The album has 12 tracks, with two of the tracks instrumentals. But this doesn’t make the album a mere snack; the extended instrumentals at the beginning, thrown in the middle, or bringing up the end of songs turn this into a full, red blooded meal. The album clocks in at a satisfying 45 minutes, and each minute satisfies your soul.

The album kicks off with “Keys to the Kingdom.” Chester’s distorted screaming greets your ears and the song begins. The instruments kick their way in, and then Mike’s beautiful singing comes in to contradict Chester’s screaming and the loud drums. At first you might think Mike went soft. After the second chorus, however, Mike begins to craft a rap with a sharpened edge to it; that rap makes me crave more (and more I shall get). We get a nice instrumental near the end of the song. The first of many instrumentals you rarely see in modern rock music. The song ends with some “oh’s” thrown in, as Chester screams the chorus. It’s lovely, in a twisted way. Starting an album with this song is a bold choice. I can see why they did it, but coming in with no expectations, it can be a bit overwhelming. At the same time, Linkin Park displays the fact they mean business, and it sets the tone for the remainder of the album. I’m not sure why the kid says “I’m not allowed to say certain things;” I fear this will remain a mystery.

All For Nothing” features Page Hamilton (Helmet). I don’t know much about him, but he provides vocals for the chorus, and does some guitar at the end of the song. I’ll get back to him. Guitars and drums are a running theme in this album. “All For Nothing” has those in full force, and starts out with Mike’s rapping, flowing from word to word in the verses. The chorus hypnotizes you with Tom Hamilton’s vocals, with the effect strengthened by Chester echoing “You say.” Chester’s yelling rallies you to join, but you aren’t 100% sure you should. Another instrumental near the end of the song with the guitars being sung by Page. A transition occurs at the end of the song with Mike saying, “Put the heavy shit there.” We are two songs in, and they are not light by any definition of the word. What could it mean…

It means “Guilty All The Same,” which was the first song debuted from the album. The beginning guitar riff was the riff teased before. It is “the heavy shit.” You are greeted by drums and guitars blasting, and then piano is added, and it just builds into an earful of bliss… again in a twisted sort of way. It turns down a little (very little) when Chester sings the verses, and yells the chorus. In between the vocals, the music jumps back up. About 2/3 through the song, Rakim surprises you mostly because you are expecting Mike. I didn’t know much about Rakim, but I can hear his influence on Mike. Rakim’s rapping has a similar flow and bite as Mike’s. Looking at the lyric book, Rakim’s rap has more content than the rest of the song. I like that.

The Summoning” is almost a palate cleanser. It’s coming off the hard hitting “Guilty All The Same;” your ears receive a methodical white noise, with seemingly random, quiet drums and piano, with a guitar burst added in for good measure. It slowly builds, becoming louder, until it stops. Silence. Little league baseball game… again, I don’t know why. Possibly, because, they hit a home run with “Guilty All The Same.”

From the deafening silence at the end of “The Summoning,” “War” mauls us with the power of punk. I’m not a big fan of punk music, so “War” is my least favorite song on the album. But it is sooooooo good. The punk format of the song abides perfectly with the lyrical content. The complete and utter pause of the music right before the chorus is amazing. After the silence, Chester yells a single word: war. Respect and reverence ease out during the silence, while disdain emotionally jumps out from the yelling. It’s a contradiction I love. “War” ends just as suddenly as it began.

With the sudden stop of “War,” “Wastelands” slowly emerges from the ruins. I’m thinking that’s on purpose (although I don’t think war stops suddenly, and the lyrics of “War” supports the philosophy… I’m digging too deep again). Some drums build up to the rhythm of the guitar. Mike raps upon this stage of drums and guitar. The cadence of the song feels like a march on a war path; even though the song “War” is over. I love the huge climax at the end; it just falls to Chester singing the chorus. He’s singing with a different emotion from the previous iteration of the chorus. Then it slowly builds up by adding drums, and then the other instruments come back up, and the rhythm is back. It’s awe inspiring, actually. And with that, we come to the end of the song, and some light percussion playing us into the next song.

That light percussion continues into the heart of “Until It’s Gone.” Some Linkin Park electronics are added for good measure. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but it’s present in “Numb” from Meteora and “Burn It Down” from Living Things. Front and center, the drums grab your attention. This is actually a really interesting song, and it’s placement on the album is paramount. This is the first “palate cleanser,” as “The Summoning” was not. It’s the Linkin Park we all know and love, except it has claws. The synthetic sounds is what separates this song from the songs that came before. Another thing about this song is the lyrical content. Listening to the lyrics, we know the message is “You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone.” Chester is singing about something specific, as conveyed through the emotional depth of his voice, but he doesn’t betray exactly what he’s missing. The lyrics are very general, but the vocals describe something personal. The music only adds to that emotion. The song winds down with a bassy, video game beat, and a baby sound. I don’t know how else to describe it. That’s what happens. Again, I’m confused.

After being distracted by the adorable baby noise, “Rebellion” attacks us with its guitars. These guitars are alien to Linkin Park. These guitars call Daron Malakian their master master. The guitarist from System of the Down makes his guest appearance on the album, and it creates a lasting impact. After an intro to harshly push you into it, a Linkin Park sound is added to the mix. The rugged guitar continues, while something unexpected happens. Mike begins to sing over it. I love the dichotomy. The expectation would have been Chester’s screaming. Right after the first verse, Chester is eased into singing the chorus. This gets me excited. You don’t get to hear both of the singers singing one after the other very often.  It’s beautiful. On top of that, you get to hear both of the singers singing with their voices going over each others voices. Mike’s voice will be prominent, but you can barely hear Chester’s voice in the background. Then it transitions to the other way around with Chester’s voice being prominent and Mike’s voice barely audible. It sounds amazing. Oh, and don’t worry. Chester does some screaming in “Rebellion” as well. It wouldn’t be right if he didn’t.

Reading the title of the song, “Mark The Graves” creates an image of something heavy. In actuality, light drums and guitars begin the song. The build up is slow, but when then it finally hits some heavy guitars, flashing some of its teeth. The first verse arrives with light guitars, and Chester singing in a melancholy state. Skipping a chorus, it moves onto the second verse, adding a bit of drums to it. One of my favorite lyrics from the album is in this song: “But the scars will never fade / At least I know somehow I made a mark.” The chorus is composed of four short lines and Chester emotionally yells each line. The tone of the song is different from the rest of the album, but its unique addition leaves a lasting impression.

Drawbar” is the second instrumental track on the album. It features guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine). Bridging “Mark The Graves” and “Final Masquerade,” it serves more of an extended intro to the latter. Piano and guitar dance around each other at the very beginning. Slowly the guitar gains traction, as the piano joins the waltz. The piano starts to fade to the back, and the snare drum cuts in. The piano objects, but the drum and guitar continue. Finally, all the players come together, and the sound begins to slowly rise. As they reach their climax, the piano begins to dance alone. The last key is pressed, and the note fades to silence. At first I wished it would have went directly into “Final Masquerade,” but I’ve learned to appreciate the silence.

Drums push us out of the silence and into “Final Masquerade.” A familiar melody joins the drums. Chester sings the entire song. His voice stirs emotion into my thoughts. Much like “Until Its Gone,” “Final Masquerade” has a recognizable Linkin Park sound. I don’t have a lot to say, except it is a beautiful song. The power of the music mixes with Chester’s emotional voice in an elegant way. It feels like the last song of the album. But it’s not.

“Final Masquerade” fades, and “A Line In The Sandslowly builds. A thunderstorm approaches. White noise and a tiny guitar is heard. Finally, Mike begins to eerily sing over the white noise. The storm begins to build while he sings. He finishes the first verse, and the storm bangs, starting with the drums. Guitars are added for effect, of course. The storm stabilizes, and Mike sings verse two, but this time with the power of the storm behind his voice. Chester even adds his voice to Mike’s to strengthen the verse. The storm rises again, and Chester yells the chorus; he is determined to overpower the storm. During the eye of the storm, it cycles down. Demanding to be heard, Mike begins to rap. The storm starts up again after his rap, and we are left to fend for ourselves against the heavy instrumentals. The storm comes to an end, and Mike begins to sing the first verse again. Hauntingly, Mike’s voice finishes the song and the album. I wish my music player didn’t loop the album back to “Keys To The Kingdom.” You need a few more seconds of silence to feel the impact from the song.

I could spend a few thousand more words on the lyrical content of each song, but I won’t. I will say The Hunting Party is impressive in that department. Each and every lyric is packed with emotion, and Mike and Chester amplify the emotion of the words with their voices. The guitars and drums are front and center, further adding depth to the lyrics. The magnitude of the impact hasn’t been felt on any other Linkin Park album, making this my personal favorite.

That’s the end of my thoughts on the album. I’m just going to type up a little bit about the process behind this review, so feel free to skip the next few paragraphs. I wanted to type this up in one setting, but it took longer than expected. I’ve listened to the album so many times. Tuesday, I sat down and listened to the entire album while following along with the lyric book. I made some minor notes. Afterwards, I started writing the introduction to this post. I started to play through the album again, and pausing while writing the paragraph for the song. After I had a good paragraph that described how I felt about the song, I continued on to the next song. I finished through “Until It’s Gone” on Tuesday, so if there’s a disconnect in the writing after that, I apologize. I finished writing on Wednesday, so I didn’t have to wait too long. Hopefully my editing will smooth things over, but if it doesn’t, now you know.

I listen to my music mostly in the car while I’m driving somewhere. Over the past few months, I listened to a playlist consisting of all of Linkin Park’s main studio albums (Hybrid Theory EP, Hybrid Theory, Meteora, Minutes to Midnight, A Thousand Suns, and Living Things). After a few times of going through that, I added the rest of their songs (a few singles like “New Divide” and their remix albums, Reanimation and Recharged) and turned on the shuffle. I listened to the singles from The Hunting Party as they were released, and listened to the album on iTunes Radio when it was streaming before the release. I was typing up the E3 blog post while doing that, so my mind wasn’t really listening to it. I got The Hunting Party the Monday before it was released (preordered it from Linkin Park’s website, and it just happened to get here before Tuesday). I popped it on my iPod, and I listened to it exclusively in the car. I fell in love with the album, but I didn’t examine it this closely until Tuesday (which I described in the last paragraph). I want to do that with their previous albums sometime, but it’s difficult for me to find the time. It’s took me four hours to write the review, and I spent an hour or so listening to it the first time through to just listen to it (keep in mind, it’s only a 45 minute record). That’s about five hours of just examining an album, which felt longer actually. Don’t take that the wrong way; I enjoyed it. I’m going to end my rambling.

Thanks for reading!

E3 2014

E3 is an interesting time of year for gamers. The Electric Entertainment Expo is usually in June, a time of year known by gamers as “The Games Drought.” E3 is basically a press event, where games are announced, demonstrated, and played. It makes gamers salivate, and wish they would jump into the future where these games are available (for the most part). The expo took place last week, and I watched/read from the comfort of my own home. Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Sony all took the stage at their press conferences and gave us a peek at what developers have been cooking up. Nintendo also revealed a few new games. Here’s some of my favorites.

Assassin’s Creed Unity

Assassin's Creed Unity

Assassin’s Creed Unity
[image source: http://www.superbwallpapers.com/games/assassins-creed-unity-29667/ – Superb Wallpapers]

The biggest surprise from Assassin’s Creed Unity’s E3 cinematic trailer was four player coop. Of course multilayer has been done before in Assassin’s Creed, but never during the story. I love coop, but it’s not the main reason I’m excited for Unity. Unity takes place during the French Revolution, which should be fun. Plus, it looks like we’ll be back to a crowded city setting. The main reasons I’ve loved the Assassin’s Creed series is for the interesting assassination methods, and the freerunning on the rooftops. I missed it in Assassin’s Creed 3 and I skipped Blackflag for several reasons. I’m looking forward to jumping and stabbing again this October.

Batman: Arkham Knight

Seeing the Batmobile in action in the gameplay trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight made me giddy with excitement. The trailer makes the game look shiney. I’m glad to see Rocksteady back at the helm for this installment. I played Arkham Asylum, but I haven’t played Arkham City yet. I own it, but I haven’t found the time to play it. I’ll have to play it before Arkham Knight‘s release date in 2015.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Here’s the trailer for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The trailer is standard as far as Borderland’s trailers go. You got claptrap, dub step, and bazillions of guns. I’m not sure about the game. It’s a “pre-sequel” because it takes place between the first game, and the second game. I want to learn more about the characters in the universe, but at the same time I’m burned out on the gameplay of Borderlands 2. It doesn’t look like the changed any of the gameplay, except a few added weapon variants, and the oxygen mechanic. I’ll see how reviews go, and maybe I’ll want to play it when it comes out in October.

Destiny

Destiny

Destiny
[image source: http://www.bungie.net/pubassets/25156/E3_2014_4.jpg – Bungie]

I’ve been looking forward to Destiny for a long time. This trailer from Sony’s E3 press conference doesn’t really show off much more, but it still makes me hyped. Plus I got into the alpha for the game. I played a bit, and it’s a lot of fun. The guns feel good, and traversing the world is fun. I’m really anticipating this game’s release in September.

The Division

The Division has been on my radar ever since it was announced last year. It’s an interesting take on the apocalypse. Instead of fighting mutants or zombies, you are fighting for your life against other human beings. You still have access to technology as you struggle for survival. This trailer demonstrates it well. As with Assassin’s Creed, this also has an emphasis on coop. It looks great, and it’s too bad that we have to wait until 2015 to play this game.

Evolve

Evolve is being developed by the crew that brought the world Left 4 Dead. Check out this trailer from E3. It’s going to be a multiplayer game, pitting four players against one monster controlled by a fifth player. It’s called Evolve, because you can make the monster evolve into a bigger, more badass monster throughout the match. I’m not big on multiplayer games, but this sounds like a fun game. It comes out October 21, 2014.

Far Cry 4

I really liked Far Cry 3, as I mentioned in my “Games of 2013” post. So when Far Cry 4 was announced at E3, I had to check out the gameplay trailer. Looks like the same old fun times, and Ubisoft even added coop! I’m looking forward to conquering more outposts in interesting ways when this game comes out. Just have to wait until November 18, 2014.

Grim Fandango

Grim Fandango

Grim Fandango
[image source: http://www.giantbomb.com/grim-fandango/3030-13230/ – Giant Bomb]

I got lucky, and was able to play Monkey Island (which is also a Tim Schafer game) from back in the day, but missed out on Grim Fandango. So when Sony revealed a letter from a “little kid” at their press conference asking about a Tim Schafer game, I got excited. At first I was like “PSYCHONAUTS 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” but then I listened some more, and realized that it wasn’t talking about Psychonauts 2. Instead, it was asking about Grim Fandango which a lot of gamers missed out on. And Double Fine, Tim Schafer’s studio, is making a remastered version of Grim Fandango. I’m excited to get a chance to play this gem from the past.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo: Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection
[image source: https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/games/halo-the-master-chief-collection – Halo Waypoint]

Halo: Master Chief Collection was announced at the Microsoft press conference. Check it out. This is jammed packed with content. It includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which is the remastered version of the first Halo. It also includes a remastered version of Halo 2, much like what they did with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. Additionally, it includes Halo 3 and Halo 4. On top of all that, online multiplayer will be available for all four games, including the first game, which did not have online multiplayer. As a frugal gamer, this collection just screams “Take my money!” This deal comes out November 11, 2014.

Homefront: The Revolution

Homefront: Revolution

Homefront: The Revolution
[image source: http://www.polygon.com/a/e3-2014/homefront-the-revolution – Polygon]

Homefront: Revolution was actually shown off before E3. One of Crytek’s studios was developing the sequel for THQ. After THQ went bankrupt, they bought the rights, and decided to take the game in a different direction. They added a Crytek spin to it. Homefront: Revolution will give the player options on how to complete an objective, like Far Cry or Crysis. It’s looking really pretty, as you can see in this trailer. All we got for a release date is 2015.

Infamous: Last Light

I just finished up Infamous: Second Son, so it was cool to see Infamous: Last Light at Sony’s press conference. It’s a standalone DLC, and it allows you to play as one of the NPC’s from Second Son, Fetch. Fetch is an awesome character, and I’m excited to see her story fleshed out in this DLC. Her powers are incredibly fun as well. This will be released in August.

Legend of Zelda Wii U

 

Legend Of Zleda Wii U

Legend Of Zelda Wii U
[image source: http://www.spawnfirst.com/news/e3-2014-nintendo-press-conference-review/ – Spawn First

Nintendo teased a new Legend of Zelda for the Wii U. Have a peek at the trailer. It looks like it’s going be an open world Zelda game, and that can only be good. We just got a short glimpse of the game, and not much is known about it. I’m a Zelda fanboy though, so I’m excited. Release date is sometime in 2015.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor intrigues me. First, you got some Assassin’s Creed elements, which is cool. Then you have the fantasy world created by Tolkien, which is doubly cool. This gameplay trailer is pretty triply cool. I’m going to wait for reviews, but I think it’ll be good. It’s coming out October 7, 2014.

Mirror’s Edge 2

Mirror's Edge 2

Mirror’s Edge 2
[image source: http://www.itsartmag.com/features/e3-creating-mirrors-edge-2/ – It’s Art]

Mirror’s Edge 2 was announced. Well, it was announced before E3, but this is our first look. EA did something weird. Instead of making a CG trailer that’s suppose to represent the game, it just showed off concept art, and had the developers talk about it. It was an interesting move, but there’s not much to say about the game. It’s fairly early in development. Anyways, I’m looking forward to it. Sometime in 2016 is the release date, so they have lots of time to tease us.

No Man’s Sky

I don’t know much about No Man’s Sky, but it looks cool. Each person starts on a brand new, uninhabited planet. It’s procedurally generated, so not even the developers know how big the universe will be. No release date for it.

The Order: 1886

When The Order: 1886 was announced last year, it sounded cool. Plus it was being developed by Ready At Dawn, which has a pretty good track record. I’m a little bit disappointed with what they showed off this year. It really doesn’t look like it’s doing anything new, but if it is a solid game, it shouldn’t matter. We’ll see February 20, 2015.

Rainbow Six Siege

Ubisoft may have canceled Rainbow Six Patriots, but Rainbow Six Siege looks really good. Ubisoft showed off a gameplay trailer for it. The player chat is a bit cheesy, but I do have to say, the game looks fun. The destruction is my favorite part of this. The fact that the game lets me blow a hole in the floor to gain access to a room on a lower level is happy fun times in my book. We can expect to play this in 2015, unless they cancel it.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

Rise Of The Tomb Raider
[image source: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=836222 – Neogaf]

A trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider made an appearance. It was just a teaser trailer, but it’s showing Lara Croft’s emotional side, which is great. I loved the Tomb Raider reboot, as I mentioned here, and I’ll be picking this one up. The release date is suppose to be Holiday 2015, so we have awhile to wait.

Scalebound

Scalebound

Scalebound
[image source: http://www.wallpaperseries.com/games/scalebound-game-hd-wallpaper.html – Wallpaper Series]

Scalebound was announced the Microsoft conference. The only reason this made my ears perk up, is because it’s made by Platinum Games. They’ve made some fun games in the past. I’m curious to see some gameplay, but the trailer was cool. No release date yet.

Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive has been on my radar for awhile. I like Insomniac Games. They know how to make some cool weapons, and Sunset Overdrive has some cool weapons. The gameplay they showed off looks like an over-the-top version of Horde mode from Gears of War. You are in an open world area, and you fight off enemies. Of course, you go around grinding on rooftops, and wires. It sparks my curiousity, but I’m going to wait until reviews are out. October 28, 2014 is the release date.

Tales from the Borderlands

Tales From The Borderlands

Tales From The Borderlands
[image source: http://www.gamespot.com/borderlands-a-telltale-game-series/images/ – Gamespot]

I haven’t played any Telltale Games games, but Tales From The Borderlands looks good. It has a nice voice cast, including Chris Hardwick. I like the Borderlands universe, and this sounds like it’ll be heavy with lore. Telltale is known for their story telling. Tales From The Borderlands tells its story from the perspective of two different people, so that should be interesting. The first episode should be released sometime this year.

Uncharted 4: Thief’s End

Uncharted 4: Thief's End

Uncharted 4: Thief’s End
[image source: http://cromeyellow.com/first-teaser-for-uncharted-4-a-thiefs-end/ – Chrome Yellow]

Sony brought a teaser trailer for Uncharted 4: Thief’s End. Do I need to say anything about it? It looks shiny, and it’s more Uncharted. The trailer gives off a vibe similar to the first game, which took place in a jungle. It was a teaser trailer, so there’s really not much to say about it. It should be out sometime in 2015, and I look forward to anymore information Sony wants to share between now and then.

That’s my thoughts on the games of E3 this year. I want to thank you for reading. I put a lot of time and effort into this post. It took me a week to get this together. Twenty two games are featured and over 2000 words written by me. I’ll be back next week with a review of Linkin Park’s album, The Hunting Party.

The Sunrise

A full moon on Friday the 13th isn’t all that impressive when clouds blanket the sky. What is impressive is being out at 5:00 in the morning the very next day and seeing the night’s sky lit up by a full moon in one direction, and the aura of the sun emerging from the other; the clouds dissipating  long enough for me to enjoy this spectacle. It may be because I was up for almost 24 hours, but I thought it was lovely. Lovely enough for me to prolong my lack of slumber for a few more minutes by driving around the outskirts of town. I got a few hours of sleep, and here I am.

In the previous post I mentioned I wanted to publish posts more often; every week. It’s been a month. I have an excuse. I injured a tendon in my hand, because I’m stupid. You don’t need to know the details, but I was unable to play video games, or do excessive typing for a week. If you look at my Raptr history, you would notice a time gap.

I haven’t played much of video games lately. I’ve been powering through a few television shows. I did finish Infamous: Second Son. Fun game. I don’t think I’ll type up a post about it, but I do recommend it if you have a Playstation 4. E3 was going on this past week. I’ll type up a post on some of my favorite highlights. I somehow got into the Destiny alpha on PS4. I think I got in, because I downloaded the E3 app on the PS4, but I’m not sure. I still owe you a Diablo 3 post.

I’m pumped for Linkin Park’s new album, The Hunting Party. I’m listening to it on iTunes Radio right now. I have no idea how to link iTunes Radio stuff, so you’ll just have to check yourself. Really digging the predator vibe the album puts out. Again, I’ll have a post written up for you once the album is officially released.

On a personal note, I’ve been going to the gym more often. I was going three days a week, now I’ve upped it to five days. On Monday, I hit a major milestone for myself. I was able to run a 5K in 30 minutes and 5 seconds. It’s not all that impressive, but I’m proud of myself.

That’s all I got for now. My next post will either be E3 related, or Linkin Park related. Hell, it might be tomorrow, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

Thank you for reading,
– Royfuss