Sin, judgment and a strangled plea for salvation consume Linkin Park's "The Catalyst," the first single from the September 2010 album A Thousand Suns.
"God bless us every one/We're a broken people living under loaded gun/And it can't be outfought/It can't be outdone/It can't be outmatched/It can't be outrun/No/"God save us every one/Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns/For the sins of our hand/The sins of our tongue/The sins of our father/The sins of our young?"
Despite the cry for deliverance, however, rescue is nowhere near this song's video. Instead, the group is alternately shrouded by toxic smoke and nearly submerged in dark water. Gas masks, a menacing haze, crumbling cities, bloodshed and agony make up the entire piece.
David "Phoenix" Farrell, Linkin Park's bassist, told MTV that "The Catalyst" is a primer on what to expect from the album. And when discussing the video's concept, vocalist/guitarist Mike Shinoda said, "It kind of comes from the idea of, like, if you could imagine when nuclear fission was invented, or a moment in time when something can be used for positive or negative. Something can be beautiful or it can be destructive. Or even, you know, if you've ever seen a dangerous fire from far away, it's devastating up close, but from far away, it can be beautiful. Those are the kind of themes that run throughout the album, and they're also themes that you see in the video."
You do? Where are the beautiful things? The contrast Shinoda mentions just isn't there. Instead, "The Catalyst" depicts only horrific judgment—and it's not even close to pretty.
MTV news correspondent James Montgomery doesn't see it either. "It's this dark mysterious, murky thing, it's very ominous," he says. "I'm not really sure what it's about but it certainly points toward a dark future and kind of makes you feel 'ookey' inside."
As a side note, it makes sense, then, that the song is featured in promotional videos for the violent, war-based reboot of the video game Medal of Honor, in which players can role-play as the Taliban.
In its 14-year-long career, Linkin Park has sold more than 50 million albums. And the early success of this single seems to indicate that the band's popularity hasn't peaked yet. So is that beautiful or destructive? Is it both? Neither? How about fatalistic? Because that's where "The Catalyst" seems to finally land in terms of its message. "God save us every one" really doesn't get much room to move around here, trapped as it is with, "When we burn inside the fire."