If anyone has been paying attention to music the last few decades, they've had to notice the constant mixing of musical styles. The melding of hip hop and rock has been especially popular since the sub-genre of nu metal had its heyday in the late 90's and early 00's. Linkin Park emerged as one of the most popular acts of the nu metal era.
Their first two studio albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, were packed with mostly rock-focused tracks anchored by Chester Bennington's screaming vocals, a dash of electronic music in the background, occasional scratching from the turntablist Joe Hahn, and rapping provided by co-lead frontman Mike Shinoda. 2007's Minutes to Midnight was less nu metal and more like traditional rock with the hip hop elements kept to a minimum.
On the band's fourth studio album, A Thousand Suns, their sound has been re-invented. The new sound is more of a true mix and melding of styles, no longer driven by rock only. There's a surprising amount of hip hop, electronic music, and world music along with pop rock and some metal influences. The jarring departure from their earlier work has longtime fans diving off the bandwagon.
I can see why there's been a firestorm of criticism on the Web. The band's usual audience, which is a large swath of people who probably just enjoy rock music, just want more by-the-numbers cookie cutter nu metal or even Linkin Park's own special brand of straightforward rock like we heard on Minutes to Midnight.
But fans have to remember that Linkin Park has always been a "hybrid." They actually wanted to call their band Hybrid Theory, but it was already taken. This time out, the mix of styles has just been greatly altered. So, if you're not a fan of hip hop, electronic music, or really interesting mixes of these and other styles, you may not like much of A Thousand Suns.