November 30, 2015 Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory A Landmark Album 15 Years Later
Although Rock band Linkin Park was active prior to the year 2000, it was not until then that their popularity soared. With the release of their debut album on October 24, 2000, they broke boundaries within three different Metal sub-genres: Nu Metal, Rap Metal and Alternative Metal. Their critically acclaimed album, Hybrid Theory is now celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. Linkin Park recorded the album from March to July in 2000 at NRG Recordings in Hollywood, California. Don Gilmore (Temple of the Dog, KORN) produced while Jeff Blue (Better than Ezra, KORN) acted as executive producer for Warner Bros. Although Linkin Park has produced several albums over the years, Hybrid Theory is still considered their best. This successful debut album is certified Diamond with over ten million units sold in the US alone by 2010. It also reached number two on the Billboard 200, as well as topping charts the world over.
Beginning the album with a hollowed out bass beat and grinding guitar, “Papercut” tells the story of paranoia and is reportedly one of lead singer Chester Bennington’s favorite songs by the band. Chester’s singing combined with Mike Shinoda’s rapping work together and against each other, as if trying to make sense of the paranoia while the hypnotic melody plays into the theme. Entering on a tight riff, “On Step Closer,” spreads out as Chester spits out his soul about familial fighting while the guitars grind out the tune’s aggression. The track hits its crescendo when Chester shouts, “Shut up when I’m talking to you.” Shinoda shows off his mad turntable skills throughout “With You” as he raps about a toxic relationship that will never heal. The guitars deliciously grind and drums beat like the headache of said toxic relationship. Next is “Points of Authority,” which got four different remixes under the title “Pts. OF. Athrty.” It appears on 2002’s Reanimation, 2002’s LP Underground 2.0, 2004’s Collision Course, as well as being featured as a playable song on 2010’s DJ Hero 2. Shinoda scratches the track, accompanied by his rapping and Chester’s screams regarding abuse. The mash-up of Rap and Metal melds the two genres perfectly.
“Crawling” begins with some distortion, which turns into Shindoa’s scratches and strokes from a beat machine as Chester shows his vocal versatility. He alternates seamlessly between singing and screaming, being the give and take that Shinoda would normally provide with his rap. Diving into the topic of his prior drug use , Chester has said this track is the hardest to sing live vocally. Next is “Runaway,” in which listeners can easily feel his entrapment and angst. It takes a bit of an Electronica turn with synths throughout. Again, Shinoda’s rap absent as Chester takes the reigns singing about escaping reality. Ripping it up next is “By Myself,” which marks a return for Shinoda. This track alternates between hard Metal and a contemplative Hip Hop beat that has a sonic vibe.
“In the End” accompanies a simple piano intro with some slight scratching. This track heavily features Shinoda as Chester plays backup. It stays within a lighter side until the chorus hits. The bridge has Chester almost pleading in a tear-inducing voice of innocence about trust before breaking down about trust. The piano returns to bookend the piece brilliantly. Linkin Park keeps fans on their toes with each album mixed with different flavors and ingredients. This no more evident than in “A Place for My Head.” The quirky single guitar riff it starts with quickly turns into a grinding riff accompanied by a sharp, hard scratch as Shinoda begins with lyrics about strife and constantly feeling like he owes somebody. Chester sings affirmation to this sentiment. “Forgotten” throws the listener right into the thick of the track with Chester and Mike trading lines as the guitars grind. The hard and light feels are like the pattern of a drug-induced stupor to lucidity with memories losing their clarity with each hit. Chester gives a silver lining as there is always a chance for sobriety.
“Cure for the Itch” serves as a tension breaker with a sonic instrumental that highlights just how rich the band runs with talent. They meld scratching with rich synth and drum work, most evident at the 2:37 mark. “Pushing Me Away” darkly rounds out the track list for Hybrid Theory with a light sonic opening that that continues throughout, only broken by the hard, guitar-laden chorus. Chester takes the lead singing about hitting bottom. There is a bonus track version of the album that includes “My December,” “High Voltage” and a BBC1 live version of “Papercut” as well.
The wild success of Hybrid Theory cemented Linkin Park’s place within the Rock genre. Following the album’s success, they were soon showcased in Ozzfest, Family Values Tour and many other national tours, as well as creating their own. Their unique sound, impressive live performances and hard-hitting lyrics are why fans eagerly await each coming album, even nineteen years after the band’s start.