In a scientific formula, a catalyst is something that speeds up a chemical process. It’s fitting, then, that Linkin Park’s new single serves as the catalyst for one of the most explosive transformations in the band’s music to date.
The Nu Metal kingpins took a sharp left turn on their last effort, Minutes to Midnight, dropping an album full of Twilight style music with a few hard rockers to appease the old fans. With “The Catalyst,” the first single off their upcoming album A Thousand Suns, LP has gone straight up techno – that’s right – and are shattering perceptions once again about what their music can be.
I was slightly taken aback when I first heard this song; I was surprised to hear Linkin Park going techno. The vocals sounded like they had some weird distortion, and something about the techno beats didn’t sound quite right. This song probably wouldn’t sound out of place being played alongside Basement Jaxx and the Chemical Bros.
After giving it another chance, I can say it’s no masterpiece but it’s not bad. Chester delivers a solid vocal performance, the background beats fit the song well, and my favorite part – there are actually some pretty cool drum fills. Yeah, drum fills in a Linkin Park song. I know. I thought the buildup to the chorus sounded really cool, where Chester sings about the memories in cold decay and the oceans bleed into the sky.
There are some political themes in the lyrics, as Chester talks about broken people living under a loaded gun in the main refrain. LP’s political lyrics aren’t bad but they always struck me as being a little pretentious.
Also, in a continuing trend from Minutes to Midnight, there’s a real lack of Mike Shinoda here. If this keeps up, the guy’s going to have to start looking for a day job.
I find the techno beats interesting but I think they sound a little muddled. But all in all, it’s not a bad track, though you might have to give it a few listens for it to click. I applaud them for trying something new.
LP’s experimentation may have varying degrees of success, but their willingness to step outside their comfort zone is an example that many other artists should take note of. Looking ahead to the upcoming album, I don’t think this song answers many questions as to what we can expect (unless they plan on doing a full out techno album.)
My curiosity is piqued.