Recordings: Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight

    Just when you thought they couldn’t possibly hate themselves any more, native SoCalers Linkin Park have managed to release yet another dozen frenetic songs about self-loathing on their third LP, Minutes to Midnight. This time, the angsty six-piece seems to be attempting a transformation, moving the basis for their proverbial emo rap-rock from adolescent dejection to shrewd adulthood in order to accommodate its maturing audience, but how much can their limited genre formula ever really mature? The alleged transformation is as contrived as lead singer Chester Bennington’s unrelenting shriek – that despicable noise meant to add rage to empty tracks like “”Given Up,”” a typically furious anthem that relentlessly repeats the phrase, “”Put me out of my fucking misery!”” (Which is certainly applicable after 17 seconds of Bennington’s sustained metallic scream.)

    At best, the band’s attempt to compel turns up confused, a muddled medley of run-of-the-mill sorrows and a new politically charged agenda. First single “”What I’ve Done”” loses whatever direction it had with the vague “”I’ll face myself/ To cross out/ What I’ve become/ Erase myself/ And let go of/ What I’ve done,”” turning an ode to redemption into a tribute to Bennington’s whine. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to tell what any of their songs are supposed to be about, unless they’re blatant Bush bashers (albeit without naming names – their only skimp in the literal department). In “”Hands Held High,”” rap-half Mike Shinoda applies his dead-serious rhyme to politics, reciting: “”For a leader so nervous/ In unobvious ways/ Stuttering and mumbling,”” and “”The rest of the world/ Watching at the end of the day/ In the living room laughing/ Like what did he say?”” Amusing, perhaps, but even as a grown-up departure from the incessant toddler fury of Meteora and Hybrid Theory, it’s still a lifeless journey from abjection to the middle of nowhere.

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