The year is 2000 and the “nu metal” genre has taken over the music charts. The bands within the genre were not looking to just blend in and cruise under the radar; they were looking to be noticed. Experimenting with DJS, other genres and other methods, bands like Linkin Park broke out of the stereotype and made a name for themselves. While this band isn’t the first (and they won’t be the last) to mix rap with rock and roll, they changed up the nu metal game and began an ascent to the top.
Their debut album Hybrid Theory came out in October of 2000 and their genre bending album would sky rocket them to be one of the biggest bands in the business. While I may not be a huge fan of the band, I can appreciate the impact they’ve made in music.
Two vocalists with two very different vocal styles front the band. Chester Bennington is the main voice you hear and he also does the screaming on the tracks. Mike Shinoda is the deeper voice, who also raps and plays guitar. Throughout the majority of their songs, they share the spotlight.
Their first single “One Step Closer” is a perfect example. This is what I’d consider to be a typical song by an artist in the genre. It is very heavy, angry, and of course, loud. The song begins with heavy guitars leading into the rest of the band joining in, including a synthesizer, which gives the song a bit of a techno feel. It also kind of reminded me of Limp Bizkit so much so that I can hear Fred Durst’s voice singing the song in my head. It’s obnoxious.
“Crawling” is another song that thinks outside the genre box. This song is heavier on the synth and sounds sharp and tense. I guess when you’re singing about struggling with a drug addiction there’s bound to be some tension. This track is also notable because it is one of the few songs that Shinoda does not really have a part in. He has a few lines in the pre-chorus and that’s it. To me, that was the right choice, because singing about such a personal struggle would lose its meaning if someone else is singing it instead of the embattled person.
“In the End” is then most mainstream single of the album. Unlike “Crawling,” this song showcases Shinoda’s vocals. Instead of singing the heartfelt song about feeling defeated, Shinoda chooses to rap. It’s an odd scenario, but somehow works out for the best. The contrast of Bennington’s scratchy, soft and almost whiny vocals compliment the deep monotone rap of Shinoda. I was actually surprised by the emotional reaction I had to the song.
What made the band special was their ability to combine genres, vocal styles and get more personal in their songs by singing about issues like abuse, drug addiction and defeat. Their genre mixing style would later spawn a mash up album with rap superstar Jay-Z. This band opened themselves up to their fans and to success and it all started with Hybrid Theory.
Written by: Katie Sperduti