Linkin Park are pop now. With their last three tracks – “Heavy,’’ “Battle Symphony’’ and “Good Goodbye’’ – they are one step closer to becoming an all-out boyband. Even for a band who are hated by a significant portion of metal circles, the new tracks have incurred the wrath and mockery of haters and fans alike. But it’s not that much of a grand departure either; Linkin Park has always been rooted in pop music to an extent. When they arrived on the scene during the apex of nu-metal, they brought a polished shine to the genre that was much more accessible than that of their peers. Hybrid Theory was a groundbreaking album in many ways, but it lacked the abrasiveness of Limp Bizkit and Korn records, offering a squeaky clean alternative to many of their peers. While pop elements can be found in the music of most popular nu-metal bands from the genre’s heyday, Linkin Park embraced them more on a grander scale from the get go.
The wait is over. The release date for Opeth’s latest, Sorceress, is almost upon us; and with it, the latest round in the controversy that has dogged them for three albums now. “What happened to the death growls?” “Why aren’t these guys heavy anymore?” “Opeth sucks now.” These are not opinions that I personally share, as I’m huge fan of Pale Communion. That said, Heritage is certainly not their best record, or even one of their top 5. In fact, it may even be their weakest. No shame there, given the ridiculous quality of their complete discography. Time will tell how successful and well-regarded Sorceress is, though early indications are that your opinion on Sorceress will likely mirror your opinion on Pale Communion. The two tracks released in advance, the title track and “Will O’ The Wisp” certainly strongly suggest this.
But they aren’t the first band to release a record that has the fans howling with rage.
2009 was a landmark year for me when it came to music. Releases from Every Time I Die and The Black Dahlia Murder were the soundtrack to my first experience of living on my own and, slotted somewhere between the two, Homesick by A Day To Remember became a “guilty pleasure”. The dyed in the wool metal head in me was conflicted. Torn even. I knew that the pop driven choruses and “she left me, boo hoo” lyrics were something I should have already got past but the songs were just too catchy to ignore. What business did a pop punk band have dropping savage, infectious breakdowns all over their material? Why do I still listen to this band, unironically? Because A Day To Remember are metal as fuck and I’ll fight you after class on the football field if you disagree.
A few years back, I wrote a piece on the negativity towards extended range guitars in metal. You can find that piece here. The extended range guitar, which is loosely defined as anything that has more strings/frets/range than your average 6-string-24-fret-standard-scale guitar. We all know the deal. Four years ago, with the peak of djent and generally a new strain of progressive metal, extended range guitars were emerging in the mainstream of metal. Of course, just like any other change in the metal scene, a large amount of people reacted rather negatively to this. There was a portion of the scene that embraced this, and that lead to a variety of creative and innovative bands like Native Construct (8 strings), Dissipate (9 strings), Coma Cluster Void (10 strings) and so many more. After these years, are people more accepting of the movement now? What changed? Let’s take a look at it.
It isn’t lost on me that given the online metal community’s collective disdain for nu-metal in hindsight, it would be appropriate to write a piece in defense of each and every album in the Korn discography. However, one album that holds a special place in my heart is one of…
Linkin Park exploded onto the scene in 2000 with Hybrid Theory, an album which would become a hit of monolithic proportions as it enjoyed enormous commercial success, and a fair amount of critical success to go with it. Their 2003 follow-up Meteora continued in much the same vein, and was also received reasonably well. However, 2007’s Minutes to Midnight marked a significant turning point for the band and for its fans. In a move which sparked a significant backlash among their fans, the band moved on from their nu-metal roots and adopted a more experimental, alternative rock sound. Fans cried of how the band had sold out, abandoned their roots and gone soft, whilst music journalists branded it bland and a failed U2 rip-off. That being said, it’s now time to begin our defense of Linkin Park’s most underrated album.