The lead single from Linkin Park‘s 2007 album Minutes To Midnight, ushered it’s era with the first single, “What I’ve Done.” Immediately, you noticed that there was something different about it..that the band itself had became the personification of a butterfly trying to shed it’s “rap-rock” skin. The song begins with a mechanical drum loop, piano keys, and a huge turntable scratch that shoots you into the guitar driven song structure that is more pronounced through the entire album. It wasn’t quite the first bombastic single that fans had been expecting. 2000’s Hybrid Theory, and an album many credit to melding the worlds of rock and rap together for them had “One Step Closer.” 2003’s Meteora, which could also be considered the book end to their first album, had “Somewhere I Belong.”
“For what I’ve done/I start again/And whatever pain may come/Today this ends“
late lead singer Chester Bennington sang in the bridge of the song. Not only did this serve as a personal proclamation for himself at the time, it can be looked upon as a clean slate for the band as well. Minutes To Midnight would mark a turn for what would be a different path way for the band as a whole until they got back to their roots with 2012’s Living Things. There was a certain polarity to it that usually met when bands try to do something significantly different. MTM is the friend you have not seen in a while. The memories that you had are the same, but maybe they started a family. Perhaps those old days that you both ran wild are just that.
After two very successful albums, the band took a break after the successful run of Meteora’s album cycle. From there, there were side projects like Bennington’s Dead By Sunrise and Mike Shinoda‘s Fort Minor. There was some recording started about 2005 enlisting legendary producer Rick Rubin. Now, to see where this album was going to go, just look to two prior projects that Rubin had worked on. Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses), Slipknot‘s third album pushed the band creatively and showed off their entire musical pallet. The 2005 double album from System Of A Down, Hypnotize and Mesmerize, had lead guitarist Daron Malakian take a more pronounced vocal role and was the most accomplished collection of work that the band did to date. So much, that the band has not recorded an album since then. Rubin made it a point to push bands out of their comfort zones.
Sure, Linkin Park could have gone the fluid route and built upon the foundation they started with. Meteora was a more fine tuned version of their sound, but in an interview with MTV, Shinoda stated a desire to “break out the box”. Minutes To Midnight starts begins with “Wake,” as a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Short, a bigger emphasis on guitars, bass, and drums. “Given Up,” the first statement, saw Linkin Park deliver their heaviest song at that point. A straightforward, thrash like affair that Bennington’s 18-second scream towards the end. “No More Sorrow” would be the other, aggressive track on the album later. We were so used to the back-and-forth style of Bennington and Shinoda, but these songs gave that concept a break to let each have their space.
“Leave Out All The Rest” and “Shadow Of The Day” just feature Bennington on lead vocals as the band progressed towards a more alternative rock style. Joseph Hahn, contributed mostly to the electronic and programming side, forgoing the scratching that was so well known on the first two albums. Listening to these songs now, after Bennington’s heartbreaking suicide , take on a different meaning. Mixed with orchestral elements, “Leave Out All The Rest” seems like a goodbye in retrospect.
“Don’t resent me and when you’re feeling empty/Keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest”
In the month and a half past after his death, many fans have stated how Linkin Park’s lyrics got them through the hardest periods of their lives. Listening to their songs in retrospect, there’s a certain melancholy that hangs over them. Shinoda raps in only two songs of this album (Bleed It Out and Hands Held High). To note, he also got to utilize his singing voice with “In Between” and the b-side, “No Roads Left”. Guitarist Brad Delson added in guitar solos for the first time. This album acts like a sampler – there are musical tastes that last for a short time before the band brings out another tray for you to have. You will notice that the album is not so much the ball of zeal of it’s predecessors. “Valentine’s Day” and “In Pieces” slow the tempo down. “The Little Things Give You Away,” the album’s swan song, puts the band’s desire for song progression on display.
The term “Minutes To Midnight” was first brought to the forefront in 1947, to highlight how close we were to a global catastrophe. The U.S. was in the claws of “The Great Recession” and like the clips for the video for “What I’ve Done,” the world had been through so much. There’s a particular scene in the beginning where grass is retreating only to come back at the end after the band’s performance. “The Little Things Give You Away” and “Hands Held High,” songs about rebelling against the greed of politicians and eerie visuals of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina manifested it’s energy into the album. It’s anger, it’s brief rejoice, reflection, and devastation. The twelve tracks saw the band walk the line between a more uniform rock-like agenda and mid-tempo, developing song writing that marked a turning point in their discography.