I listen to black metal, so technically I'm not allowed to listen to Lincoln Park, or any other band on the radio for that matter. A lot of underground critics are under the impression that Lincoln Park (I refuse to spell their name in a retarded manner) represents everything that is fundamentally wrong with commercial music today. They are somewhat right, but I think that honor should really belong to either Creed or Limp Bizkit. To quote the clever critique of our friends at Buddyhead.com, that bastion of annoying indie music and endless industry baiting, "Fuck Linkin Park". I can't say that I disagree much with this assessment, any lingering respect I had for Lincoln Park went out the window when every 13 year old in America used their allowance money to buy this album so they could listen to In The End over and over while warming up for soccer practice. However, I'm stuck with the fact that I burned the CD when it first came out and wasn't very popular with anyone.
While it's immediately obvious that the boys in Lincoln Park will never be opening for Tool, I have to give them credit that their album does have its good points. The mix of styles is less obvious and more cohesive than other bands of lesser caliber who throw these elements in at random because their manager told them it would sell records. The rapping is a particular sore spot for me because rap metal is fucked and has been ever since Korn's third album. Whoever the obligatory rapper is in this band however possesses some talent and while the subject matter is largely derivative, it isn't as embarrassing as a band like Limp Bizkit trying to string one syllable words into mother goose rhymes. Listen to Papercut and By Myself and imagine Fred Durst trying to write those songs. Same with the obligatory DJ in the band. Not genius, but definitely has some talent as evidenced on songs like A Cure For An Itch. The guitarist uses a lot of power chords and simple riffs, but occasionally these pack a punch (In The End) and work well with the song while making the album worth listening to.
The screaming is average and rarely conveys any real anger outside of a few songs (Runaway). On the verses though it becomes obvious that the singer is actually talented, and this helps a tremendous deal. The fact that this fucker can actually sing (and play piano apparently) is what saves the band from cookie cutter nu metal mediocrity like Staind's last two albums. Basically the guy is singing for an 80's hair metal band and doesn't even know it. Take away the DJ and the rapping from In The End and you've got as good a Skid Row song as I've ever heard. The fact that the guy can sing however and the fact that they throw so many elements into the mix is what saves this band from making total asses of themselves on a song like this. I like the fact that Lincoln Park has these different elements in the band but doesn't feel the need to show off the fact that they have all this shit going on in their songs. The songs themselves are basically seamless and incorporate these elements without making too big of a mess out of the song structure like Slipknot does on half their songs. Basically I can't fault this band for being trendy and for writing derivative songs, that's what sells records. I can't take myself seriously listening to this band anymore. That nagging feeling of guilt surfaces every time I put this CD on now. I know I should be listening to Tool instead, but on the right day I can listen to this and see why the kids like these guys so much.* * 1/2 Reviewed: December, 2002