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Linkin Park – “RECHARGED” [CD] (2013)

Hot off the heels of their latest collaboration with EDM DJ Steve Aoki on “A Light That Never Comes”, Linkin Park have released a superb collection of remixes of songs originally recorded for their 2012 hit record LIVING THINGS. Featuring re-interpretations of nearly all of the tracks on LIVING THINGS (sans “Tinfoil”, and “In My Remains”), the album also includes the band’s new hit single “A Light That Never Comes” plus a rock influenced remix of the aforementioned track by legendary acclaimed record producer Rick Rubin.

Fans will remember the band’s first remix project released a decade ago, which saw the band working with over 30 different artists to achieve the result found on Reanimation, a hip-hop flavored epic of a remix album that helped re-invent the concept and managed to introduce Linkin Park’s music to a new hip-hop audience. This time Linkin Park tackles the various genres of EDM/Electronic music and the results are for the most part rather impressive, with some remixes even improving upon the original album tracks.

While the band has expressed repeatedly that this album was simply a project for fun; and is not a sign of the band heading towards an EDM direction, the band’s music oddly feels natural over the pulsating bass lines, occasional 4 on the floor dance beats and crunchy saw synths that permeate the album’s 14 remixed tracks.

One thing that has become commonplace, is for this album to be referred to as a “dubstep remix album”. Unfortunately that description is flaky at best and does not accurately describe the contents of this record, as a full listen will prove.

Instead, during the album’s 66 minute running time (74 if the bonus Paul Van Dyk remix of “Burn It Down” is included); Recharged travels into Dubstep territory only twice, with the remaining tracks running the gamut from House/Progressive House, to Breakcore, to Trap, and finally  to Trance, with the Dubstep genre only making brief appearances on the Datsik and Killsonik remixes respectably. While admittedly some rock fans do not listen to the EDM genre, and thus understandably are unaware of the subgenres involved, it’s worth a clarification as a lazy dubstep label only undervalues RECHARGED as a whole.

Standout tracks on this record are the DJ Vice remix of “I’ll Be Gone”, the Nick Catchdubs remix of “Skin To Bone”, and Mike Shinoda’s reinterpretations of “Victimized” and “Castle Of Glass”. While the DJ Vice and Catchdubs remixes feature brand new lyrics and excellent new vocal performances by Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda; the Shinoda produced “Victimized” remix stands out as being Linkin Park’s first foray into the Breakcore genre. Clocking in at an even faster BPM than the original track, the Mike Shinoda remix pulls the already furious track into new levels of aggression with a pounding distorted drum pattern that doesn’t let up over the remix’s 3 minute running time.

It’s small surprises like “Victimized” and the Rolling Stones inspired Rick Rubin reboot of “A Light That Never Comes” that make RECHARGED an interesting and refreshing listen from start to finish. Fans of EDM will find plenty to enjoy on this album; whereas the band’s more rock-oriented fans may find RECHARGED a bit difficult to get into on the first listen due to the complete lack of the rock elements from 2012’s LIVING THINGS. We recommend listeners to approach this album with an open mind, and to respect this album for what it is: an experiment by the band to delve into electronic music genres and completely reinterpret the feel of the original tracks. Which they have done successfully.

The very fact that this album works so well, should perhaps be seen as a testament to the band’s ability to seamlessly blend multiple genres together without ever settling for repeating the same gimmick or style over and over between album releases. Linkin Park were always unfairly looped into the nu-metal genre; and where other less talented peers within that same genre have failed, Linkin Park have continued to stay relevant by refusing to stay ‘parked’ in the same genre (pardon the pun), instead evolving with each release to be a band that refuses and evades categorization. While the majority of the tracks on this album were re-interpreted by other musicians; and thus are more in the vision of the album’s contributing artists,  the end results show that no matter the genre, Linkin Park’s music will always feel right at home.

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