When it took Linkin Park over 4 years to release the follow-up to 2003’s Meteora, there were plenty of questions surrounding it, to be sure. Would the band follow the coattails of many of their nu-metal era peers and release a similar album? Would Linkin Park shift gears completely and streamline their sound to a more mainstream audience? Those questions were answered on May 14th, 2007, when Linkin Park released Minutes To Midnight.
Of course, MtM was definitely a polarizing LP record. Gone were much of Mike Shinoda’s vocal contributions, at least compared to the band’s first two albums. In its place was a more streamlined alt-rock sound, as evidenced on the anthemic first single, “What I’ve Done”. MtM was also a slightly more experimental record in that, especially towards the back half of the album, more electronically-driven songs like “In Between” and “In Pieces” were the rule, not the exception.
Certainly, there’s still some familiarity and highlights here. The proper opening track “Given Up”, features one of Chester Bennington’s most impassioned and vitriolic vocals to date, with its refrain of “put me out of my fucking misery” hitting close to home for many. Meanwhile, singles like “Bleed It Out” showed off much-needed Mike Shinoda sightings, and the emotional “Shadow Of The Day” has LP channeling U2 at their peak.
That being said, MtM is an important Linkin Park album because it does show off some of the ambition later found on its 2010 follow-up, A Thousand Suns. Specifically, the 6+ minute closer “The Little Things Give You Away”, which references Hurricane Katrina and the failure of FEMA to supply aid and response to the victims of that terrible natural disaster. There’s even a guitar solo from Brad Delson that appears for the first time, and it’s arguably the best closing track LP has ever written.
While it’s definitely not among their best-loved records, it’s hard to call MtM a serious failure. While it was less well-received and sold less than Meteora and Hybrid Theory, it still cemented LP as a band that was not going to fade away, and also showed off their ambition that would come later. For those traits, it’s still a record worth going back to.