This band gets plenty of smack thrown it’s way, but honestly, there’s way way worse out there, at least in my opinion. The album, released during the tail end of the “Nu Metal” craze of the early aughts, not only was a huge success, but it somehow escaped the death nail of the genre for the most part. Linkin Park has since become a giant act, and defied expectation and managed to not be one dimensional, but if this album hadn’t had the impact it did, we might never have gotten more records. Today we add another record to the Albums of My Life Series, with Linkin Park’s debut, “Hybrid Theory.”
When the album opens, initially you think this is going to be the same thing you’ve heard over and over again. The rapping starts, and you’re thinking “Oh yeah this is typical,” but what you forget is before long a more focused, singing oriented voice comes through, and shortly after that you’re in the world of “Hybrid Theory.” As the opening track “Papercut” navigates through record scratching, catchy harmonies and clear and clean instrumentation, you realize this album isn’t just another disposable album from an ever increasingly disposable genre. The second track though, is a juggernaut, and was the first massive release from the band.
“One Step Closer,” even after all these years, still is a good song. I’m gonna get tons of shame for this blog, but I really don't care. There’s a certain charm to me in going back to music you haven’t listened to in years and years, and understanding that you’ve since moved on, but that at one point this album was a huge part of your life.“One Step Closer,” is a song that everyone can relate to because we’ve all felt pushed around, made to feel unimportant, and it’s overall just a high energy song that get’s the good ole’ blood pumping. That’s probably why so many people gravitated to it.
Song after song on “Hybrid Theory” hits more and more, and you get the sense that these guys had a very precise idea of where they wanted this record to go. Take a song like “With You.” It’s one of the best tracks on the entire album, and the electronic effects on the song, courtesy of Joe Hahn really give the song a little something under the hood that helps the track build a strong pace. The bridge at the end with Chester singing is one of the highlights of the song, and it’s really easy to sing along to. That’s important, especially for the type of audience they were going for.
While “One Step Closer” was an initial big hit, as the album progresses, the stature of the singles grows and grows. The next super recognizable track hits us at number five with “Crawling.” The track opens with a cold, electronic beat, but before you have time to adjust to it, Bennington is bellowing over the instrumentation, and his voice is shining through for the first time on the record. It helps that he’s actually singing, and his voice is excellently complemented by the music. You feel his pain when he discusses how “These wounds will not heal.” The video is also a landmark of the era, and in the end this song won it’s audience over by “Crawling” all over the competition of the modern rock scene at the end. It’s just an all around great rock song.
Thats whats so great about Linkin Park. They were able to ultimately bridge the gap between the uber depressing messages of Korn and Limp Bizkit, but also mastered the more upbeat style that P.O.D. tried to provide us with. It’s just more accessible. I mean there were twelve year old girls with LP shirts on. That just doesn’t happen too often, especially with more angry sounding music.
So many songs are familiar now though. “Runaway” is a crowd anthem for everyone to get pumped up on, while “Points of Authority” is a masterful track that fuses the rap and rock elements in a fluid way that isn’t seen on every track. Even a track like “A Place for my Head,” which features an Incubus influenced opening is able to grab the inspiration from hip hop and rock that the band is rooted in.
Track eight though, is where the lid really blew off on this Linkin Park craze. “One Step Closer,” and “Crawling” were big hits, but if you want a massive success, women and girls need to like your song. This statement isn’t meant as derogatory, but it’s mostly true. Guys love liking the same music as their ladies, and if you have a great song that your girl also likes, it’s much more fun. I can’t listen to half of the music I love around my wife because she wouldn't dig it, which is fine, but you enjoy sharing music with your partners.
The song I’m referring to, is of course “In The End.” The song builds off of an initial piano key, and with Chester and Shinado both harmonizing, you really can’t go wrong. There’s no other song in their canon where they fuse the vocal arrangements better, and the theme of disenchantment in a relationship helps to relate to a casual listener. The vocals near the end are supremely strong, and it’s in that instance where the band allows Chester’s voice to soar above and beyond to make a profound impact. This song became the anthem of the era, and one of the brightest stars in the whole saga of “Nu Metal.” For good reason though; the song is excellent and is still being sung by giant crowds every time the band plays.
From there the album goes in much the same way the rest of “Hybrid Theory” has. “Forgotten” is a bounce heavy, crunchy signature sounding song that sees Mike take center stage, as he raps throughout. “Pushing Me Away,” the last track on the record, is a more down to earth modern rock track. It makes a good ending song, mostly because it ties the alienation and ugliness of a failed relationship into the central themes of the record.
Ultimately though, this album brought the band into huge focus, and they were able to go on to really delve into different areas and become more than just a typical band of a certain type of music. Thanks for reading. See you Friday.
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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