Music captures innate human emotion of fear, hope: Linkin Park’s 4th album connects to audiences on spiritual level

Before I review this album, I just need to state something very important first. It has been a bit more than a year since Chester Bennington sadly and tragically took his own life on July 20, 2017. It has been difficult for me and many of the Linkin Park fan base, knowing he had been through a lot. He endured abuse as a child, and fell to substance abuse as a teen, but he found a way to recover from all of this and kept fighting for his family, his friends, his fans, before being unable to fight anymore. I wish I could have gotten the chance to meet him, and it is still pretty sad knowing that he is no longer with us today. Chester may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Chester Bennington, and thank you so much for the music you helped create.

After listening to all of Linkin Park’s albums, I loved all of them, but the one that stood out to me the most was A Thousand Suns. It is a concept album dealing with human fears, such as a nuclear war and the end of the world. This was a genius move on Linkin Park’s part, as the different style took the band to a whole new level.

The first two interludes on the album: “The Requiem” and “The Radiance”, are about the events of a pre-nuclear war, where the line “God save us everyone, will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns” is the general idea that carries through the entire album.

“Burning in the Skies”: This is the first full length song of the album, and talks about the last bit of innocence that mankind has left before the events take place. There are still people who choose to hold on to their innocence, and are asking for forgiveness before they do what they have to do to stay alive.

“Empty Spaces”: This is the 3rd interlude and 4th track of the album ; however, it is only about 20 seconds long. It starts with silence at first, crickets chirping, then out of the blue, explosions, panicked shouting, and orders are being given out in the background, telling the listener that there is a war being fought.

“When They Come For Me”: The 5th track on the album, was a smart thing to do on Mike’s part, as he is rapping about the “fans” that don’t appreciate Linkin Park’s newer stuff. The lines “I am not, the fortune or the fame, or the same person telling you to forfeit the game” and “Once you got a theory of how the thing works, everybody wants the next thing to be just like the first” speak to those people. I found this to be pretty amusing, seeing as how true it was, and the audience also gets to hear Chester doing a sort of tribal holler, which was pretty interesting.

“Robot Boy”: The song starts off with relaxing piano tunes and soothing humming by Brad, and Chester’s incrediblem, angelic voice, the message of this song is about those who are still innocent and were forced to grow up fast, mainly children, during the nuclear apocalypse. It is a song about hope, and has a “you will be fine” and “everything will be okay” message with Chester’s lyrics. Leading up to Joe’s solo, Chester is yelling, everybody is singing, it is something amazing to listen to, with the ending lyrics being “Hold on, the weight of the world, will give you the strength to go.” One unfortunate thing about this song is that it is super layered, making it next to impossible to play live.

“Jornada Del Muerto”: The 4th interlude and 7th track on the album, confused me at first, but thank goodness for Google translate. The lyrics say “Lift me up, let me go.” and are repeated a few times in Japanese, followed by another one of Joe’s solos. That’s about it for this one. There is not much to say about this song, as it is mostly instrumental.

“Waiting For The End”: The song has an electric sounding build-up, and then Mike starts rapping “this is not the end, this is not the beginning”, getting at the fact that the apocalypse going on right now shouldn’t be an excuse for people to turn into savages. Chester starts singing “Waiting for the end to come, wishing I had strength to stand”, indicating that people want to take the “easy” way out but still continue to look for reasons to keep going, which is pretty dark to think about. After a while, an amazing build-up takes place, and it is explaining why they should stay and start “holding on to what I haven’t got”.

“Blackout”: Finally! A song with Chester’s legendary screams, (too bad it’s the only one on the entire album). This song starts off pretty calm, then suddenly bursts into Chester rapping about a bad relationship, the rapping leads to screaming. One reason why this song is so unique is because Chester’s screams, while being amazing as always, sounds great with this song, even though it doesn’t necessarily fit in with the background music, but that’s just Linkin Park working their magic with music.

“Wretches and Kings”: This is my favorite song on the album. There is a speech in the beginning, which is actually Mario Savio’s speech about the “Operation of the Machine” from 1964, leading up to Mike rapping from the point of view of a group leader saying he won’t back down because his people will always have his back. Then Chester comes in with some growling type vocals, saying “steel unload, final blow, we the animals take control, hear us now, clear and tall, wretches and kings we come for you” indicating that at this point, most of the people left have turned into savages and will do whatever it takes to stay alive. All of this builds up to Mike repeating “Front to the back, and then side to side, if you fear what I fear, put ‘em up real high” six times. After everything calms down for a bit, Mario Savio’s speech is repeated once again, this time being a bit longer than the one in the intro with more words, leading up to one of Joe’s best scratching DJ solos in all of the band’s albums.

“Wisdom, Justice and Love”: The 5th interlude from the album is a speech from Martin Luther King, starting off with some light piano and MLK’s ‘Immortal Vietnam’ speech. After a while, his voice fades out and starts to be taken over by a sort of robotic sounding voice, which is creepy to listen to on the first go. This is a reference to real life, meaning that people who are trying to do good by others are straying away from their dream because of modern technology. This may have been one of the smartest and cleverest things Linkin Park has ever done.

“Iridescent”: Specifically made for 2011’s Transformers 3, this song reminds those that have done wrong that they are being forgiven. It encourages them to let go of everything they regret. Some of the lyrics are “Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope but failure’s all you’ve known” meaning that even though these people are being forgiven, they find it hard to forgive themselves, and can’t look past all the bad things they’ve done. It is a very powerful song with an incredible message. If all the audience does is remember their sins, they are encouraged to put themselves in other’s shoes and understand why they had to do them.

“Fallout”: The 6th and final interlude. Remember Burning in the Skies? A robotic voice is repeating the lyrics from Chester’s part of the song: “I’m swimming in the smoke, of bridges I have burned, so don’t apologize, I’m losing what I don’t deserve”. After a while, the audience can hear Mike singing along with this robotic sound. It’s pretty relaxing to listen to.

“The Catalyst”: The first few seconds of this song are somewhat quiet, then drums and some light DJ scratching from Joe. After some buildup, Mike starts singing “God bless us everyone, we’re broken people living under loaded gun” indicating that the slaves of a more powerful group decide to take back what’s theirs and fight for their freedom. Chester joins in when Mike is done, and after a bit, Chester’s chorus kicks in. In The Requiem, the lyrics for this are the exact same lyrics Chester sings, “God save us everyone will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns, for the sins of our hand, the sins of our tongue, the sins of our fathers, the sins of our young.” When this part is over, everything calms down for a bit, and Mike starts singing the Japanese lyrics, “Lift me up, let me go” with the chorus being sang in the background, quietly at first, then getting a bit louder. It’s not just Chester singing though, everybody is, Brad, Joe, Dave and, Rob, after that incredible moment, the song slowly comes to an end. This song conveys that a big war was fought and won.

“The Messenger”: The last song on the album, and the end of this musical journey. This song is about loss, mainly those close to others that have died in the apocalypse. It starts off with some light guitar, and Chester starts singing “When you feel you’re alone, cut off from this cruel world, your instincts telling you to run” showing that the survivors of the apocalypse and war feel that they have nothing else to live for now that everything has happened. They accept the way life is after the events, but are still looking for reasons to keep going, pretty sad ending.

Over all, this was a fantastic album. It is a 10/10 from me, and I would definitely recommend this album to those who somehow haven’t heard it yet, or have never heard Linkin Park for that matter. I have been listening to them guys since 2008, and they are amazing.