One More Light: Album Review

One More Light: Album Review

This is my first album review and what better could it be. Linkin Park (my childhood heroes) dropped their 7th studio album titled “One More Light” yesterday, and in one sentence: it’s a brilliant piece of art. But before I come to that, we’ll talk about Linkin Park and their genre-departure album to album.

They’ve done it all: nu-metal, rap-rock, alt-rock, alt-metal, electronic and pop-rock. Let’s face it: the angry sounding Linkin Park is gone. The heavy hard nu-metal is gone. The sooner people realize this, the better it is because LP doesn’t give a french toast about that. As Mike Shinoda once stated in an interview, “It needed to be visceral. We’re not 18-year-old kids making a loud record – we’re 37-year-old adults making a loud record. And what makes a 37-year-old angry is different than what made us angry back in the day.” they have evolved. Some fans who say that they want the old Linkin Park back are not the real fans. Rather than appreciating the shift in their musical sense, style and personality, they just complain that they want the band as it was in 2001. Ill break it down for you guys. The difference between that Linkin Park and today’s LP: they are rich, can afford to self-produce an album and do whatever the shiznit they want to because it will sell. They made what we wanted, we made them rich and now they do what they want to do.

One More Light according to me is probably the band’s oldest material and it sounds like what Mike has always wanted to release. This album is bold in the way, that they are absolutely not looking for radio-play or starring in charts (unlike “sell-out” music these days), but they just wanted to get their real genre into the world. Right after their first single “Heavy” was released, they faced a lot of flak for making music similar to The Chainsmokers, but Shinoda addressed this issue (to Billboard) in the most “renegade” way possible: “One of the reasons why we chose ‘Heavy’ as the first single is because it is really the core sound of the album. This wasn’t a scenario where the whole album sounds one way and the single sounds different. This is how the album sounds. So we wanted to go out with a song like that, where everybody can get a sense of the direction of this body of work.” They won’t make music how we want. This is the principle that sets LP apart from all the other artists around these days.

That brings us to the singles. The band released four promotional singles and each of these songs are not only different than the rest, but are so musically and lyrically different from any of their past songs that LP has threw on us. LP this time has collaborated with some new kids in the block unlike the past when they made songs with industry giants like JayZ, Busta Rhymes, Page Hamilton, Tom Morello and Steve Aoki. This time they’ve kept it subtle and included new talent like Kiara for “Heavy” and new-age rappers Pusha T and Stormzy for “Good Goodbye“. While Heavy is a smooth rock ballad dealing with probably an ex-partner who you can’t let go off, Good Goodbye is about leaving a place or an emotional state you never want to come back to.

But my personal favorite song in this group is the second single “Battle Symphony” released on March 16. This one is structured as an electronic pop-rock song with a beautiful tune but with a hard twist: it’s in a major chord. That’s something we have never seen in the entire 17-year-old Linkin Park discography but, that doesn’t really matter. The mind-blowing lyrics and exquisite vocals by Chester Bennington proved that this guy is capable of everything: be it growling, screaming or delivering ravishing clean melodies like in this one. the studio version sounds like an entire mixture of keyboard, Launchpad and programmed drum kits, the live version sounded a little different with Brad Delson (the lead guitarist) and Chester trying to put some distortion in the chorus. Nevertheless, a magnificent song with the feel-good factor that I last had with The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars! Another personal favorite of mine: “Sorry for Now” is a thoroughly thought arrangement with amazing lyrics and irresistible guitars! I relate to these lyrics more than anyone else, and that’s why I absolutely love it. Here it is:
And I’ll be sorry for now that I couldn’t be around
Sometimes things refuse to go the way we planned
Oh I’ll be sorry for now, that I couldn’t be around
There will be a day that you will understand!

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Credits to: www.culturaocio.com


As surprising as this album is, the songs “Invisible” and the title track “One More Light” took me aback like nothing else. Invisible is one of the few songs with Mike singing the lyrics in its entirety. The last time that happened was in the album MTM. This fast tempo song has elements of electro-soft-rock, looped piano samples and a normal four/four drum beat with no real bass guitar (except for the looped electronic one). One More Light is musically similar to their older song The Messenger (it is without any drums) and is beautifully put amidst a soothing solo by Brad (a real rarity). It is an emotional song about losing a close friend and how every life matters in the sea of millions. They performed One More Light at Jimmy Kimmel Live and Chester dedicated it for his late friend Chris Cornell. It was so apt and emotionally charged, that Chester broke down in the end barely completing the song. It was so beautiful, that I too probably shed a tear or two with those harmonies put right on point by the singing duo.
The only disappointment that I felt was with the opening song of the record: “Nobody Can Save Me“. Seeing songs like Papercut, The Requiem and Lost in the Echo, I can certify that Linkin Park knows how to open an album. But this one, with music very similar to Battle Symphony and something from Owl City, could have been better.
Other songs from the record “Talking To Myself“, “Halfway Right” and “Sharp Edges” are avant-garde and pieces of innovative groundbreaking pieces of art.

Final Stance: I give the record a 9.5/10. Even though I think the drummer and the bassy took a sabbatical during the production, the producers, writers and especially the vocalist have done an insane job. They could’ve put more rap, or some growls here and there for a genuinely complete Linkin Park record. But overall, the album is definitely worth the wait.
Make sure you give it a listen.

Until next time.

Featured image is owned by http://abcnews.go.com.

 

 

A Sky Full of Stars

A Sky Full of Stars

Featured Image Art Courtesy: Reshmi Nair  

I lied in office that I’m going to my university to take my certificates which apparently had just been issued. But fortunately, there was an itty bitty amount of truth in that lie. I was indeed heading to my alma mater, VIT University, Vellore, Tamil Nadu. Now living in cities without an airport is a real pain. I grew up in a small city called Chandigarh in the north of India. I lived there for 17 years before moving out for college and work and other things that grownups do. Now Chandigarh had this airport which was a little bigger than Shahrukh Khan’s house. Family trips to Kerala were through the nearest major airport which was New Delhi, which was five hours away. All those seventeen years from 1994 to 2011, Chandigarh airport had “plans” to upgrade to an international hub, but as it came through, the first international flight landed in 2016. When I lived for four years in Vellore, the nearest airport was Chennai which was three hours away. I live in Bharuch now, and the only major airport nearby is Mumbai, and again its six hours. So my trip from Bharuch to Vellore was a gigantic task as a whole. From booking train tickets to/from the airport at Chennai and Mumbai, to actually travelling for a day and a half through railway stations, airports and bus stations was extremely exhausting.

I had this plan since like a year, to go to VIT and get some necessary formalities done for the upcoming master’s degree plan (the details of which I’ll write about soon). After so many scrapped plans about how to go about it (one being landing in Bangalore, renting a bike, driving down to Vellore, taking a solo detour trip to a nearby hill station called Yelagiri and eventually get fired from my company) I chose the simplest and the least expensive one. The least complicated plan was I guess the best decision I could’ve ever taken: landing in Chennai, go to Vellore by local bus, and reverse.
I randomly called up my awesome friend Reshmi about my plan to come to Chennai and I intended to meet her the night I landed and go to Vellore the following morning. When I asked her if she would like to go a restaurant and eat and chill out till late night, she was like, “dude, its Tamil Nadu, not new York!”
“Let’s go to Mahab”, shouted Reshmi!
“What in the world is that?”
“Let’s go to Mahab! Mahab would be awesome, let’s go, let’s go”
“Is this place a restaurant?”
“Mahabalipuram! Sorry, its Chennai slang for Mahabalipuram. Sorry, I got carried away and forgot you’re not from here. Please let’s go to Mahabalipuram! (a town located an hour from Chennai opposite the direction of Vellore)”
“Let’s do it!”

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Fast forward to the Sunday morning of August 14, 2016: a freight train passed by the deserted Bharuch railway station. My train was an hour late. Standing on the platform, tired waiting, I just couldn’t resist the picturesque view of the next train emerging out of the 100-year old steel bridge just at the entrance of the platform. As soon as I clicked on the shutter and took the picture, I looked back and saw some policemen waking towards me. I knew I was in trouble that very moment, because I realized that taking pictures in a public place in India a day before a high security alert national holiday was not a good idea. They started asking me questions as if I were a terrorist wanting to blow that steel bridge up. After numerous threats of arresting me, confiscating my camera and putting me in jail, they let me go that too surprisingly without a bribe though after making me delete that one picture. I somehow reached Mumbai airport at 3 for a flight at 7, just like my over-careful dad has trained me to do. But that wasn’t a problem, because I kinda enjoy long stays at the airport, because I find staring at people, getting amazed at how every individual stands out in his/her own way in a huge crowd and trying to make up assumptions about their real life just by observing the way they react to random stimuli, the way they walk, the kinda way they eat etc. Thousand different people, thousands different destinations and a thousand different stories: what is the harm, when I am never going to see them ever again in my life? But this time it was different because there was literally no place to stand in the very “grand” Mumbai domestic terminal. The scene resembled that of the Borivali local train platform just before the arrival a ‘fast’ local in peak hours. There was no place to sit, or sleep, or charge my phone. But somehow I reached Chennai after a sleepy two hour flight.
I landed at half past ten. I told Reshmi that I’ll pick up the car (the self-drive that I had previously booked) and I’ll pick her up from her place. I got out of the airport arrival gate, and I suddenly heard someone calling my name. It was Reshmi who had planned this entire idea of surprising me at the airport. As I jumped up in happiness, I was taken aback as well as deeply touched by this gesture of hers. I had seen her almost after an year. We walked down to the car, and we drove to her place amidst all the necessary catching up session. After dinner and a lot of gossip till three in the morning (we kinda slept off in between), we took off to this place “Mahab”.

Now picture this: straight road, no traffic, pre-dawn, cloudless sky, starry, a tank full of fuel and Coldplay playing in the stereo! It was amazing. It felt like driving into infinity. It felt like going away from everything I was going through in life. If I paused my being at one particular moment, I was on such a different high altogether, that it was deafening. I felt silent, and blind. I had forgotten where I was going, I had forgotten about my work, my boss, my project. I had forgotten Bharuch. For a moment I had also forgotten the fact that Reshmi, my navigator, DJ, planner, tour guide and the trip manager, was sitting there right beside me lip synching ecstatically with the song that was playing! I chose to forget the past year of working hopelessly towards something which is so futile! All my exhaustion, my lassituude in my endless sulking had dissolved away in all that bituminous mass of road on which we were driving on. Even though it was a small drive, lasted only for about an hour and a half, it was an insane experience: with that accelerator, the break and the gears.

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I love beaches. As we neared the town of Mahab, I was hit by a stupendous gust of coastline aromas.  I love the smell of beaches; I love the sand, the breeze. The feeling of being at the tip of a very large land mass and the beauty of the phenomenon of the endless vigor of waves is mesmerizing on a very personal level. Even though I don’t prefer getting wet, and swimming in the brine water which has made me ill on a lot of occasions, I look forward to “beach days”, especially the sun rise. Reshmi and I were not sure if we would get to reach in time for the sunrise, but we did. It was dark when we reached the parking lot, but by the time we reached the beach, I was engulfed by the silence amidst the roar of the waves and the chirping birds. I got my camera out, but by the time the sun started peeping out of the horizon, I was nervously fighting my uncontrollable emotions, and in the process, forgot about the clicking pictures. Amidst all my goosebumps, I was spellbound by the calm. I started thinking, that I was at the right place at the right time and that I would’ve missed out on a lot if I wasn’t there right then. All my decisions in my life, starting from taking the science stream in class 11, culminated to this moment in my life, where I was standing in a lonely beach with one of my favorite people in the world, enjoying the cold wind on my face with my eyes closed, thinking about how far I’ve come, though literally.

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The sun came up, and we started walking back to our car. It was then, that we made a serendipitous discovery: the shore temple, a 1300 year old temple carved completely out of rock. So we just went to check it out. Even though the ticket person thought Reshmi was a foreigner, she convinced him by explaining to him ‘in Tamil’ that she is from Chennai and I was the real outsider in Tamil Nadu as of that moment. As we moved forward, we realized that the shore temple was absolute bliss. It was astonishingly beautiful. Every wall looked like a carving, and there was a different story on every wall, every stone and every sculpture. It was a perfect ending to an impressive six-hour trip. As I took a moment to “appreciate the architecture” of the place, clicking away random pictures, I thought of the millions of people who have come here throughout the centuries and have done the EXACT same thing! What have I done differently?
Isn’t it true? What have we done differently?

Why are our lives so vacuous?

Uncertainty

Uncertainty

Just tell me once what went wrong.
I’ve been feeling so down low,
just thinking of what you did;
or at least what I perceive you went through!
You’re a bird, a brutally bruised one.
It’s been years I’ve heard your voice, can I now?
Has the wickedness of this world consumed you?
Why didn’t I protect you from what I was supposed to?

I thought we’ll live forever.
I thought that I’ll follow you around, with your angels..
I thought I’ll keep you warm through the coldest winter!
But a voice from the inside called me,
it crawled into my uncertainty.
It gave me an assurance to leave you behind,
and go underneath to sleep with my dragons!
Well, it’s too late now!

But I believe that you’re here still.
Hold me! Don’t let this storm take me!
It’s evening already, I made it through the day,
I don’t think I can ever make this night.
I am broken from the inside,
pieces of me are crying out to come out of the wrong side of this!
I’m burning from the inside, drowning in this tempest,
can you bring me back to life?

Featured Pic: from my recent trip to Rann of Kutch, Gujarat! 

the #axleblog Idea

the #axleblog Idea

Introduction time.

So hey.
Now that you’re here, I think you should essentially know that this WordPress is the compilation of short stories, poetry, blogs, memos, travel documentaries, photography (like this picture featured) blogs, music reviews and original music compositions by a person who wants to break free from the jail cell called ‘corporate life’. I am a confused person by nature and my life is a small hole. I try to fit as many things into it as possible. Its dark inside and nobody has really seen it au naturel, not even me. But, #axleblog will try to peep inside this black hole. On a positive note, I’ve been on this planet for twenty two years now, and I realized this lately: that life is a gift. I wish to celebrate the fullness of life that I intend to live in the years to come, and document it HERE.
Here’s to that.

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