The Singles Party: Linkin Park f./Rakim, ‘Guilty All the Same’

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It was a busy week for Linkin Park. After taking a break so lead singer Chester Bennington could perform with Stone Temple Pilots, the band dropped a new single, “Guilty all the Same” and announced a new world tour with AFI and 30 Seconds to Mars (with newly minted Oscar winner Jared Leto at the helm).

Nick Porcaro: When I first hit play on “Guilty All the Same”, the latest Linkin Park single, I was bewildered. First I heard a rather amateur-sounding mix, as if it were a demo. Then it faded into some really raw, Metallica-esque riffage, until suddenly…what’s that? NEO-CLASSICAL GUITAR HARMONIES?! IN A LINKIN PARK SONG?!

COOL!

With that out of the way, Linkin Park’s latest track is a lot of fun. Its chorus sounds a bit limp, as if frontman Chester Bennington couldn’t quite muster the passion to match his volume level, but everything else here is well-constructed and certainly worthy of headbanging. Lyrically speaking, “Guilty All the Same” is yet another generic attack on hypocritical haters in a discography filled with odes to no one in particular.

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The single’s biggest surprise, then, is an extended guest verse from legendary rapper Rakim. His involvement makes sense, though, as some similarities are evident between the God MC’s flow and the signature raps of Linkin Park multi-instrumentalist Mike Shinoda. Although Rakim is unquestionably more lyrical, the two share a laid-back vocal quality and old-school approach to cadence. Rakim’s critical, wide-ranging verse gives the song the passion it needs to justify the band’s increased instrumental muscle. His anti-establishment raps aren’t anything new but they’re refreshing to hear coming from his pen.

If Chester’s vocal was more unhinged—as he was on 2010’s surprisingly good A Thousand Suns — this track would be excellent. It’ll have to settle for solid instead. Verdict: Add to playlist.

Kelly O’Dowd: No matter what Linkin Park releases, I still feel it should be only allowed on a retrospective CD (playlist) of when you were in high school. My bias would only cloud the ultimate judgement. Verdict: Abstain

Jason Stives: Well color me stunned. When I decided upon the latest from Linkin Park to be this week’s Singles Party pick I wasn’t too sure how engaging it would be. The last two records from this band weren’t barn burners in the vein of their first three releases, especially Hybrid Theory and Meteora, albums that at one time I couldn’t let leave my Sony Discman. Times have changed greatly and I had stopped approaching Linkin Park with any interest but I must say “Guilty All the Same” is quite refreshing even if it’s not something that makes me leap with anticipation for their next record.

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It is no doubt the heaviest thing they have done and while some may say it resembles their early days it still feels like something different. With a pulsating and furious 90 second instrumental to start it’s quite the gut check. When singer Chester Bennington finally makes his presence known his vocals feel strained but still with the kind of anger it did over 13 years ago. Lyrically there is a lot of finger pointing and combine this with a solid verse from the legendary Rakim this song packs a lot of punch. It’s nice to be reminded what a band that has been around for awhile is capable catching the attention of a current audience and “Guilty All the Same” definitely caught my attention in a way I greatly underestimated. Verdict: Add to the Playlist

Bill Bodkin: No keyboards. No turntables. No plaintive or psychotic screaming vocals. No high gloss production value. Wait, is this really Linkin Park? “Guilty All the Same” is Linkin Park stripped down to a pure hard rock band. Oft-criticized for over-producing everything they do, the band really shows they know how create a straight-up hard rock song that has some real bite to it. Maybe Chester’s stint in STP rubbed off on him? Yet, this isn’t all riffs and low end theory — there’s still that element of hip-hop here as the iconic Rakim drops knowledge on the universe about 3/4 of the way through the song. In the end, this is a solid ass track.

Yet, is it worth an add to the playlist? Look at the gentlemen writing in this column, we’re all mid to late 20s (and yours truly just beginning his 30s) and we remember when LP was an “upstart” band back in the day. We’re not LP’s demographic. The black hoodie Hot Topic kids are LP’s core audience. Will they embrace “Guilt All the Same” ? I’m going to say no, not at all. This lacks the chaos and the emotion of other Linkin songs, the one those kids who pack stadiums for this band love. So if you love that more electronic-based Linkin Park, you’re going to be disappointed. Otherwise, like the writers in this panel, you’re going to dig it.

Final Verdict: Despite the abstains, we’re giving you thumbs up to download this pup to your playlist.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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