Sunday, 28 December 2014

Linkin Park "Hybrid Theory" (2000)

Hybrid Theory was thee record of my generation. It's the biggest selling record of this millennium and was a phenomenal success at the time. It's been a long time, maybe even 10 years since I last gave this a listen. The other day I got an itch to listen to this record and I was curious to see what id think of it. 14 years ago was around the time I started listening to Extreme Metal and Hip Hop while still being spoon fed bands from MTV and VH1. I'm a much more mature listener now but I'm not one to disregard what I liked in my youth. I do see a lot of hate towards Nu Metal and other music thats insulted as being only relevant to the youth of that generation. I don't get whats wrong with that, but I understand that people can grow out of music but for me, I hold onto what I enjoy and it was no surprise that after so long this album still sounds great, but it also came with a nostalgia trip, vividly reminding me of my past and where I was at that time. The power of music!

Returning to this classic, I tried to keep in mind the popularity of this record, and from this perspective hear what the formula of their success was. This was released around the same time as "Chocolate Starfish" which is the fastest rock album to go platinum. It was in the peak of Nu Metal and the music industries stranglehold on record sales which has since been in rapid decline, it was prime time for a band like this with Bubblegum Pop groups like "Backstreet Boys" and "Britney Spears" being the alternative in MTV culture. Their sound would characteristically defined as Nu Metal, but the guitars are not excessively distorted, the screaming is infrequent and their aesthetic has its heavy moments but keeps a rock sensibility throughout. Simple and infectious melodics are brought to the forefront through electronics and guitar leads that are a key part of what makes this formula work. Not only are the group delivering bouncy and grooving riffage, they also balance it with memorable and catchy leads. Chester's clean vocals and Mike's raps are like icing on the cake of an already approachable sound, the two give every song a great hook and relate-able, easy to follow lyrics that the target audience can easily get into. Even after all these years these simplistic melodies and grooves still strike a nerve.

The album as a whole is fast and to the point, each track is 3 to 3:30 minutes in length, short, to the point and devoid of filler. Starting out with its aggressive tracks, the album calms down towards the end and gets into its more melodic side. Every track does something different and by the end I am satisfied but this short listen does leave one hungry for more. I believe the success of this album is down to the aesthetic being just right for the times, but that alone wouldn't be enough. Theres no denying the groups ability to write simple hooks, appealing melodies and memorable lyrics, the combination of which made this perfect for MTV and radio to push onto consumers, at a time when corporate power had a huge steak in a bands chances to "make it". With the changing landscape of music Linkin Park may just be one of the last bands we will ever see reach these heights of popularity and success. Still brilliant after 14 years.

Favorite Songs: Papercut, With You, By Myself, Place For My Head, Forgotten
Rating: 9/10