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.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta



19. Antwood: Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

Sponsored Content is a noisy, chaotic, occasionally beautiful work with a dark sense of humor that's frequently deployed to get Antwood's point across. For instance, throughout the aforementioned "Disable Ad Blocker", which sounds mostly like the creepy side of Tangerine Dream's early '80s experimental output, distorted slogans and recognizable themes worm their way into the mix. "I'm Loving It", we hear at one point, the Sony PlayStation startup music at another. And then there's a ten-second clip of what sounds like someone getting killed in a horror movie. What is there to make of the coexistence of those sorts of samples? Probably nothing explicit, just the uneasiness of benign and instantly-recognizable brand content in the midst of harsh, difficult art. Perhaps quality must to some extent be tied to sponsorship. That Antwood can make this point amidst blasts and washes of experimental electronic mayhem is quite the achievement. - Mike Schiller



18. Bonobo - Migration (Ninja Tune)

Although Bonobo, a.k.a. Simon Green, has been vocal in the past about not making personality driven music, Migration is, in many respects, a classic sounding Bonobo record. Green continues to build sonic collages out of chirping synths, jazz-influenced drums, sweeping strings and light touches of piano but on Migration sounds more confident than ever. He has an ability to tap into the emotions like few others such as on the gorgeous "Break Apart" and the more percussive "Surface". However, Bonobo also works to broaden his sound. The electro-classical instrumental "Second Sun" floats along wistfully, sounding like it could have fit snugly onto a Erased Tapes compilation, while the precise and intricate "Grains" shows the more intimate and reflective side of his work. On the flipside, the higher tempo, beat driven tracks such as "Outlier" and "Kerala" perfectly exhibit his understanding of what works on the dance floor while on "Bambro Koyo Ganda" he even weaves North African rhythms into the fabric. Migration is a multifaceted album full of personality and all the better for it. - Paul Carr


17. Kiasmos - Blurred EP (Erased Tapes)

The Icelandic duo of Olafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen, aka Kiasmos, is a perfect example of a pair of artists coming from two very different musical backgrounds, finding an unmistakable common ground to create something genuinely distinctive. Arnalds, more known for his minimal piano and string work, and Rasmussen, approaching from a more electropop direction, have successfully explored the middle ground between their different musical approaches and in doing so crafted affecting minimalist electronic music. Blurred is one of the most emotionally engaging electronic releases of the year. The duo is working from a refined and bright sonic palette as they consummately layer fine, measured sounds together. It is an intricate yet unforced and natural sounding set of songs with every song allowed room to bloom gradually. - Paul Carr



16. Ellen Allien - Nost (BPitch Control)

BPitch boss and longtime lynchpin of the DJ scene in Berlin, Ellen Allien's seven full-length releases show an artist constantly reinventing herself. Case in point, her 2013 offering, LISm, was a largely beat-less ambient work designed to accompany an artsy dance piece, while its follow-up, 2017's Nost, is a hardcore techno journey, spiritually born in the nightclubs and warehouses of the early '90s. It boasts nine straight techno bangers, beautifully minimalist arrangements with haunting vocals snippets and ever propulsive beats, all of which harken back to a hallowed, golden, mostly-imagined age when electronic music was still very much underground, and seemingly anything was possible. - Alan Ranta

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image