Linkin Park back after long delay

It's been four long years since American rockers Linkin Park released their chart-topping third album Minutes to Midnight.

With a new album out this week, that means the band has released just four albums in 14 years they've been together.

Even with a remix album and a mash-up EP with Jay-Z thrown in there, that's not a high work rate - something the band readily admits.

BACK FOR A FOURTH TIME: Linkin Park say their new album pushes boundaries.
BACK FOR A FOURTH TIME: Linkin Park say their new album pushes boundaries.

Drummer Rob Bourdon says it's because the band is full of perfectionists.

"We tend to be perfectionists and its sort of how we work," Bourdon told from Los Angeles, where most of Linkin Park's six members are based.

"We like being in the studio and when we get in there we write a ton of material."

The band - also including singer Chester Bennington, guitarist Brad Delson, DJ Joe Han, bassist David Farrell and rapper Mike Shinoda - has a tendency to keep tinkering with tracks, even when they are finished, Bourdon said.

"I think if we were to continue to give ourselves no deadline we would continue to make changes but the improvements get smaller and smaller as time goes on."

This time the band set a deadline and stuck to it.

The resulting album is A Thousand Suns which Bourdon admits was a challenge for him and his bandmates.

"We've been making music for a long time so one of the challenges was to evolve and make something to keep us interested and also have a lot of fun in the process."

"We've been used to making a certain type of music and using sounds to accomplish that. So to break out of that and push ourselves to grow is definitely challenging."

The first track off the album The Catalyst is riding high in the charts and features on the  EA game Medal of Honour.

"It was a huge opportunity for us to put our music with something that looked so cool." Bourdon explains.

Linkin Park will always be associated with the often-mocked genre of nu-metal, which fused rap with rock and was wildly popular in the late 90s.

But Bourdon said Linkin Park continued to experiment and push boundaries.

"We're really proud of the record - personally I haven't heard anything that sounds like this."

They tried to move away from using the more obvious instruments.

"For example we were trying to get across a part of the song that builds tension or has a lot of energy we tried to find some new sounds and new ways of accomplishing that without necessarily using a live drum sound or guitars - we tried to make that sound with other instruments.

Another change is that Mike Shinoda, who writes most of the songs and previously sang mainly backing vocals and harmonies sings more prominently  on this album.

"His voice naturally over time has got stronger, so we were listening to a lot of the demos and his voice was strong and sounded good so we encouraged him to sing on the record."

Bourdon describes the new material as "a journey" and encouraged fans to listen to the album in its entirety.

"We hope the fans take the time to listen to the record from the beginning to the end, because we put a lot of thought into how songs work together and making a lot of interludes and things that makes the record really seamless."

And with an album comes a tour. Bourdon says although it hasn't been confirmed yet the band is hoping to announce dates soon in New Zealand. They were last here in 2007 for two sold out shows at Vector Arena with Chris Cornell.

"I'm almost positive we'll be there, so check out our website and look out for an announcement soon," he said.

A Thousand Suns is out now.