She said: Fans won’t regret sticking it out to the end

Three years after the mediocre “Minutes to Midnight” was released, California six-piece Linkin Park is back with something a little different for their fourth studio album.

“A Thousand Suns” does not play out like a 15-track CD, but more like a 50-minute rock opera of love, loss and salvation. The album was released Sept. 14.

The journey kicks off with “The Requiem,” a mostly-instrumental track that combines ghostly piano sequences and eerie chants of salvation to create a truly haunting icebreaker that sets the mood of the entire album in less than two minutes.

That same magic is immediately recaptured in “The Radiance,” an accompanying track that plays like a radio transmission over the same elegant keyboard sounds, cryptically and beautifully announcing the auditory apocalypse to come.

The next track, “Burning in the Skies,” incorporates those spine-chilling instrumentals with lead singer Chester Bennington’s unmistakable vocals to create a strangely soft, melodic tune.

The imagery of “Skies” is both destructive — Bennington sings of flames and blood rising to the sky — and strangely soothing. A few tracks later, the album takes a turn for the whimsical with “Robot Boy,” a trippy tune that sounds like it would pop up on the Mad Hatter’s iPod. Its lyrics are poignant, but they are easily lost beneath the quirky techno beats and robotic vocals.

For diehard Linkin Park fans, “Wretches and Kings” is a triumphant return to the band we know and love.

Track 14 and lead single “The Catalyst” combines the redemptive theme of songs such as “Burning in the Skies” and “Waiting for the End” with the heavy metal sentiments of “Wretches and Kings” for a truly stand-out tune.

“A Thousand Suns” manages to create an all-new sound while still never venturing far from Linkin Park’s heavy metal roots.

If you listen to this album expecting to hear the self-loathing, aggressive screams of earlier albums “Meteora” and “Hybrid Theory,” you probably won’t make it past the first few tracks.

But if you’re willing to stick it out and give something a little different a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Just as “A Thousand Suns” preaches, redemption is always achievable.

Rating: A-

For Sports Writer Morgan Beard’s take on “A Thousand Suns,” click here.

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