PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Linkin Park: Hybrid Theory

Stephanie Dickison

Linkin Park

Hybrid Theory

Label: Warner Bros.
US Release Date: 2001-10-24
Amazon
iTunes

Unless you've been under a rock the last year, you'll know the boys that are Linkin Park. These fortunate five may not have changed the music scene (nu-metal was coined well before they came along), but they have made a fierce imprint.

With "Papercut", "Crawling" and "In the End" hitting the top of the music charts with the determination of a geyser, it is clear that the 13th generation has found a sound they like. Again and again.

Vocalist Chester Barrington has a sexy voice and an even better rhythmic sense. He and Fred Durst have that innate talent of rapping in such a versatile manner that it is never boring, never the same. When he does that nu-metal throaty wail, goosebumps instantaneously occur. Each and every time.

The melange of talent in the group makes for a diverse album. It's not all heavy like Korn and Mike Shinoda's rapping makes for a versatile mix of heavy rock and hip-hop. The music the not-so-quietly lays beneath the vocals are good enough to stand alone, but the vocals are too good to even consider leaving them out. The best example is in "In the End". Barrington's strong notes are as good as any seasoned rockstar during: "I tried so hard / And got so far / But in the end / It doesn't even matter / I had to fall / And lose it all / But in the end / It doesn't even matter."

The scratchy loops and mix of samples are expertly engineered by Don Gilmore. The eddy of sounds swirling through headphones is mesmerizing and proves that this is a far more complex and talented group than the hard rock boy bands of late.

The squingy guitar and thump-thump-thumping of "Papercut" is this generation's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It is heavy, but not as angry as you might imagine. The layers of guitar and whispering are sexy and alluring. Barrington's "I feel the light betray me" is warm and rich.

Okay, "One Step Closer" is angry. But it has a great pulsing beat and their use of echoey guitars is a nice intro to a chorus of "shut up"s. You will be off your chair in no time.

The beginning of "With You" is beautiful and melodic, although it's rap leading into roaring lyrics over heavy guitar. This is what makes Linkin Park so phenomenal. The blending of the genres keeps the listener rapt, waiting for the quiet interlude between roars and wails.

Water droplets morph into thick organ wahs with a fast, funky beat and a guitar lick that the guitar gods of yesterday can only wish for. This is "Runaway" and it, along with "In the End", is the best track. It is lighter than the rest of the album, with such a funky ass beat that you will be outta your chair in no time.

Sadness permeates "By Myself" and it is heavy metal hard. But within the walls of thrashing wails and guitars, it is full and infectious without even trying.

Hip-hop and rap, drum samples lead "Cure the Itch" which is thick with melancholy and has soundtrack-like piano. It's one of the most beautiful instrumental pieces I have ever heard. Ever. It is dark and sad and leads to thoughts of wide-open spaces, tragedy and choices made/not made. It is 2:37 and ends two minutes too soon.

The incredible rock song "Pushing Me Away" is the last song and it is obvious why. It would've been easy to release this first, leading listeners to believe this is what their sound is. It still has the hard rock mentality, but it is more of a showcase for Barrington as lead singer of a rock band. It is an excellent rock song, but once you've listened to the 11 songs before it, you will be grateful for their innovative use of rap and metal and for leaving plain ol' rock to the less complex boys of standard rock and roll.

Time's recent article on the band (January 28, 2002) slammed the band's empty lyrics, calling their songwriting "confessional yawps". The goal of the band is to get feelings across -- feelings of power, of abandonment, of self-esteem. They do this successfully through both their lyrics and their sound. There are sheer notes that get across the feelings of angst, frustration, and helplessness. There are also lyrics that depict this, like the chorus of "Points of Authority":

"You like to think you're never wrong / You want to act like you're someone / You want someone to hurt like you / You want to share what you've been through / (You live what you learn)"

A band that is young, all 24 with the exception of expert drummer Rob Bourdon at 23, the band have a tough follow up. This album was the top-selling act of 2001, with 4.8 million copies sold. But if any band can supersede it, it's Linkin Park. With the diversity of rap, metal and techno packages under their arm, they will continue to fascinate and challenge music's standard sounds.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.