When asked to describe The Hunting Party, Mike Shinoda simply said “a rock record.” That should be music to Linkin Park fans’ ears after spending the last decade trying to recapture the success of their first two albums: Hybrid Theory and Meteora. From the opening distorted screams of “Keys to the Kingdom,” it is very apparent that Shinoda description was apt. The track’s driving drums and chugging guitars are a spark of energy not often seen from the band. “Keys to the Kingdom” sounds like old school Metallica with a burst of rapping from Shinoda.
The bursts of energy just keep coming on The Hunting Party. Lead single and the band’s first #1 mainstream rock hit since 2012, “Guilty All the Same” mixes elements of prog rock, thrash, and symphonic metal to create something that sounds like Trans-Siberian Orchestra collaborating with Muse. Just for shits and giggles, Rakim guests on the track to spit a final verse.
Rakim spitting the final verse is indicative of a problem with Linkin Park’s albums since Meteora and that is that Mike Shinoda does not seem to be all that interested in rapping. On the album, Shinoda mostly handles production duties. He spits a classic verse on “Wastelands” before Chester Bennington takes over the rest of the track’s vocal duties. The only appearance of Shinoda is on the album’s closing track “Line in the Sand” where he raps the opening verse.
Unfortunately, it seems like Linkin Park is a rap/rock hybrid that sparsely raps. Unsurprisingly, the tracks that include a rap verse (including the verse from Rakim) tend to be the one’s that stand out. The album is an accomplishment as far as energy and catchy songwriting goes, but those expecting the band to revert back to their early 2000s form–unfortunately it seems it will never happen.