Minutes to Midnight
Linkin Park’s debut and sophomore albums, Hybrid Theory and Meteora, were genuine rap-rock albums that spotlighted nu metal, garnering mainstream attention and critical acclaim alike. However, Rick Rubin replacing Don Gilmore as producer was a move that was sure to shift the direction of the next album. That record was to be called Minutes to Midnight, and the album artwork was revealed to be minimalist: a black and white concept, with the band standing on a cliff overseeing a body of water. Minutes to Midnight suggested a new route, leaving the traditional nu metal elements for something more radio-friendly. Critical reaction as well as that of the fans was ultimately mixed, some saying they sold out and bought into the mainstream, while others applauded the new, more adult tones of Linkin Park’s new music.
The Fall of Troy
In the Unlikely Event
The Fall of Troy’s fourth studio album In the Unlikely Event was also a departure from the signature sound that had developed their loyal fanbase. Gone were shrill screams on all of the tracks and gone was original bassist Tim Ward, who was replaced by Frank “Black” Ene. Previous titles Doppelgänger and Manipulator were the pinnacle of their fame, with the former producing their most popular track F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X. and the latter going in an experimental direction but staying true to the element that was still the foundation of the album’s overall sound. However, In the Unlikely Event hit a low with fans and critics, with both parties criticising the band’s attempt at a less technically chaotic, more structural sound that just didn’t fit quite right. For their first three album covers, they used original artwork that either frontman Thomas Erak or former bassist Tim Ward created. For In the Unlikely Event, the cover showed a silhouette of a little girl holding balloons in what appeared to be the city of Seattle in ruins – large, dense clouds of smoke replacing what should be the sky, possibly foreshadowing the band’s subsequent breakup.
Interpol’s Antics was a step away from their more lugubrious debut Turn On the Bright Lights. Antics and its inability to capture attention was strengthened by the bland cover. Even the font used on this cover was different from Turn On the Bright Lights, where an obnoxiously bold font was used for both band and album name. The music didn’t sound as wholesome as tracks on the previous album, like Say Hello to the Angels and Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down. The music seemed to be stretched out and intricately picked apart, separating all the good elements, preventing them from coming together effortlessly in a way that made their debut one of the best albums of the 2000s. This album didn’t have the gloominess that worked so well for Interpol in their first, and it just rubbed many up the wrong way.
A Fire Inside
AFI quickly went from one of the more popular post-punk/alt-rock bands of the early 2000s to a band trying to capture something that resembled glam-rock and synth pop that left them limping towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century. First gaining some success with The Art of Drowning, the release of Sing the Sorrow brought AFI major commercial success, becoming the pinnacle of their popularity. Sing the Sorrow received platinum status and peaked at #5 on the US Billboard 200. Following that was Decemberunderground, which slowly started to stray away from the melodic hardcore vibe and included more pop-rock elements, apparent on tracks such as Prelude 12/21 and Summer Shudder. Once delivering fast-paced adrenaline, shrill shouting and anthemic chants, AFI aged into a pop-punk/alt-rock band that just didn’t seem to compete with other bands surrounding them. Say goodbye to punk rock, Crash Love will leave a sour taste in your mouth if you were a fan of A Fire Inside pre-Decemberunderground.
N*E*R*D are known for their ability to completely blur the line between genres. With Grammy-winning production duo Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (The Neptunes) and childhood friend Shay Haley, the band found success with their debut album In Search of… in 2002, selling over 600,000 copies, certifying it Gold. In 2010, Nothing was released, shying away from the outrageous ingredients they blended together that made their first three albums, especially their debut In Search of…, so captivating and fun. The fusion of rock, funk, jazz and hip-hop wasn’t as apparent on Nothing, and it felt as if it was missing a few key ingredients, mainly the rock elements that was evident on other discography. There was nothing exceptionally catchy either – a N*E*R*D staple. The album was in a sense truly nothing special when compared with their previous creations. With the exception of Hypnotize U and Party People, Nothing was uncharacteristically stale.