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Linkin Park
Songs From The Underground
Warner Bros. Records
www.linkinpark.com


Let's see... it's been roughly two years since a true album has been put out by alternative rock veterans Linkin Park. Sure, there was a live album last year, but finally with the new album Songs From The Underground we get a chance to hear some new tunes. Well, at least a few of them.

With the last appearance in Minutes To Midnight it seemed as though the old Linkin Park had given way to a softer, almost touchy-feely band. That harsh, the world is crap sentiment that we had all come to know and love was pretty much gone. Therefore, expectations weren't very high when Songs was released, especially since they didn't seem to care enough to really promote it. But being a long time LP fan, I had to listen to it with open ears.

"Announcement Service Public" starts off with a very similar lead in as "What I've Done" off of Minutes. Though it may not be a piano as in the other song, it's still very delicate and almost ominous. Gradually the tempo and beat pick up, to eventually lead into a classic Linkin Park guitar riff; basic, but ever so powerful when set with Chester (vocals) screaming in the background. "Qwerty" is probably one of the most unique names for a song, not to mention for a song from a band like this. It also completely random, in the fact that is bears no match to any element of the song. With that name you'd think this song might be light, airy as a happy computer. Nope, this is very typical angry Linkin. On the side of musicianship, it shows that not much has changed since Hybrid Theory. The guitar is simple and quintessential rock and the vocals are mostly screaming. The unchanged melody should actually be refreshing for die-hard fans. "And One" is excitedly a step in a new direction. Mr. Han is apparent in the workings of this one, with the excellently placed computer effects. Remember back to Meteora and "Somewhere I Belong" when you had a taste of that perfect mixture between Mike Schinoda rapping and Chester's true choir voice? Well that mixture was nicely placed into this song as well. This song is easily my favorite on the album, it allows me keep my confidence in LPs. "Sold My Soul To Yo Mama" is one of the most random workings I've heard from this band. It's a combination of lyrics from "Papercut" off Hybrid, set to a completely rap tempo. And that's about it, for nearly 2 minutes.

After a few cleverly placed live songs: "My December" and a cover of "Hunger Strike" from Temple Of The Dog, they end the album with "Part Of Me" which comes off as back to that classic LP sound, with a bit of a Tool twist. It has a tone that's just as angry as any of the others and a guitar just as rock as before, but this time the chorus is almost evil. It's very raw and complex, with computer effects, rapping, and Chester's lyrics. At times it's almost scary, to the point that if you were able to play it backwards you would maybe get some kind of demonic message. Naturally, being the last song, they played it out past the normal time. This one goes for over 12 minutes. After the first initial part of the song is finished, there's a computer type noise that repeats over and over again, nearly getting annoying and lasting for about 6 minutes, or long enough to make you thankful you can skip ahead. When the actual music comes back in, it's a mixture of organ and special effects. No lyrics, but a nice head bobbing tempo that's obviously pulled from another one of their songs (though I can't figure out which one). That tempo eventually fades and the organ ends out the song (and album) more delicately than it began.

So it's a limited edition EP and what I can see are 4 completely new tracks, with 4 fillers. That's not bad. For a band that's been on the scene for roughly 7 years now, it's encouraging that they're still at the drawing board. They're still putting forth the effort to give their long time fans music that they'll enjoy and at the same time bringing in new ones. One addition I would've made to this: "Leave Out All The Rest - M Shinoda Remix," but that's just me. Otherwise, this is a good Linkin Park library addition.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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