Thirteen years after being steeled in the crucible of Ozzfest, and millions of record sales later, Linkin Park have grown into one of America’s biggest rock bands. But now they’re ratcheting the kick-ass up another notch: Their new album, 'The Hunting Party,' is not only the hardest and heaviest thing they’ve ever released, but it’s also their first album to pack the sort of guitar firepower that would actually appeal to your average headbanger. The record's potent mixture of punk, thrash, and hard rock--as heard on such bracing tracks as “Keys to the Kingdom,” “Guilty All the Same,” “Mark the Graves” and “A Line in the Sand”--is an especially ballsy move from a band that’s drifted deep into experimental/electronic territory on their two most recent albums, 2010’s 'A Thousand Suns' and 2012’s 'Living Things.'
But its heaviness is hardly the only thing atypical about this latest Linkin Park record. Guitarist Brad Delson, who barely touched his axe in the studio in recent years, not only delivers great crushing riffs but also, on nearly every track, lays down a wailing guitar solo, if not two or three. In addition, 'The Hunting Party' is the first of the band’s records to feature cameos by outside musicians, including members of System of a Down, Rage Against the Machine, and Helmet (read what the groups' Mike Shinoda has to say about those collaborators here), and it’s also the first one in their lengthy career that’s completely self-produced—which is especially notable considering that über-producer Rick Rubin oversaw the making of their last three albums.
The result of all these change-ups is an album that is both aggressive and progressive, while still maintaining Linkin Park's innate pop sensibility. 'The Hunting Party' is inspiring proof that bands don't have to get softer as they grow older--but can, in fact, do the very opposite. DAN EPSTEIN
Check out "Rebellion" (featuring Daron Malakian) off 'The Hunting Party':