7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Mixed-emotions towards this release...,
This review is from: Minutes to Midnight (Audio CD)
Being the music-enthusiast that I am, I rarely ever purchase a bad CD. I do my research prior to buying most CDs unless I'm just so in love with the artist/band that it doesn't really matter that much. I'd never even heard a Linkin Park CD prior to buying MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT so it was weird that I'd even pick up the new CD by a band I hadn't followed. The only thing I'd ever heard by Linkin Park was the mash-up that they collaborated with Jay-Z, which was in my mind promising. I liked what I heard of their original songs ("Numb", "Lying From You" among others)so I thought I would try the bands long-awaited follow-up from 2003's massive METEORA. I mean, METEORA had teenagers swooning practically, so why not. If I could go back, I probably wouldn't have bought MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. It isn't awful or incredibly horrible, but it certainly isn't what I expected or what I would gravitate to as a music CD. I'm a self-proclaimed 'multi-dimensional' musician/music-listener, but if this is true Linkin Park, I have to say they aren't on my radar of musical tastes. To the credit of MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, there are a couple of great numbers and I wouldn't slight the album of that in the least. As a whole, the album isn't my favorite.
After a pointless intro via "Wake" (aren't all intros and interludes pointless for the most part?), the album starts with a true bang, via the exceptional "Given Up". While I don't advocate screams that seem like they're ever going to end (Bennington vocal cords must be chocked full of vocal nodes/nodules),I appreciate the angst within Bennington's vocals. To call "Given Up's" lyrics are true, potent songwriting would be an overstatement, but angst filled teens and twentysomethings will be singing along: "I've given up... tell me what the f**k is wrong, with me" as wells as "put me out of my f**kin' misery". True, substance filled songwriting right there (sarcasm). "Leave All the Rest" isn't a potent as the screaming match that is "Given Up", but it is OK, which is the general sentiment of MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. It does features nice production work, which is a positive point. What "Leave All The Rest" lacks is true star-potential, which the proceeding track "Bleed It Out" has written all over it. Thank God for Mike Shinoda's spirited performance here coupled with the second coolest hook of the album, provided by none other than Bennington ("I Bleed It Out just to blow it away"). Still, you worry about those vocal cords of Bennington's.
"Shadow of the Day" isn't bad and it grows on you after a couple of listens. "What I've Done" features the standard Linkin Park production and production-wise it is a standout. Overall, it is a fine track, but I do believed it has been overhyped by everybody. Sure, it went to no. 7 on the Billboard Charts, but is it really as great as everybody makes it out to be? Compared to "Numb", isn't it insubordinate and a bit insignificant? Just my thoughts. It's OK though, but that about all in my eyes. "Hands Held High" is a production standout and once again features the quiet Mike Shinoda, who isn't quite as effective here as he was on "Bleed It Out". However, "Hands Held High" is one of the better tracks of the entire album. By "Hands Held High" (track 7), the general sentiment I get from the album is that it is a bit scattered as opposed to being unified, which in my opinion hurts it a bit. Again though, there are enough promising moments here that I think the notion of unity is counteracted a bit.
"No More Sorrow" wins the production award for the album. The mammoth drums at the beginning are enough to wake any body up from a deep sleep. The instrumental work here is top rate as well, which leads the listener to believe there is hope for MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. To call "No More Sorrow" and unfaltered hit would be quite the overstatement, but it is middle-of the road minimally. "Valentine's Day" is average at the most and leaves you thinking 'so what?' after you've listened to it. You get the feeling that "Valentine's Day" is the breaking point of MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT. You have to ask yourself how many more predictable songs can Linkin Park produce on this album with the cliché anthemic refrains? "In Between" falls in the trap of being too repetitively bland. Sure, I'm a fan of the production, but after hearing the loop for so long, it utterly bores you.
"In Pieces" revives a bit more interest in the album as the penultimate track, though it is more a production masterpiece than a songwriting marvel. "The Little Things Give You Away" concludes the album showcasing Linkin Park's electro-centric production work coupled with a cool acoustic feel. It is good to hear Bennington a bit more senitive than usual, but then again this is the same man who scream for countless number of seconds on the twice as exciting "Given Up", the gem of the entire album.
Production wise, this album is right on point and if my judgement were based solely on production, I would give this album probably 4 stars. But this is by no means a 4 star album in my mind; there are enough unspired moments and vocal instabilities to shut that notion down quickly. Where hit material and truly stellar tracks are concerned, this album meanders from the best, most exciting or exhilarating ("Given Up", "Bleed It Out") that don't question the credibility of Linkin Park, to the worst, least interesting ("In Between" or the boring "Valentine's Day"). At most this album is average though I've heard much more exciting, well thought out 'average' albums than this disunified affair. 2 stars.