Release Year: 2000
Linkin Park will release a new album next week and while I don’t really plan to get it, it did remind me of one album near and dear to my heart: their debut. I don’t know why I’ve never bothered to listen to their other albums after Hybrid Theory. Maybe it’s because this one is so good. Everything from the music to the vocals makes this one of their best albums to date. Their best and most popular songs are found here. It’ll definitely remind you why they were one of the most promising bands in 2000.
The aggressive album opens with the single “Papercut.” This song is all about paranoia, as stated in the lyrics, but the music helps to express this feeling as well. The music is very jarring, distorted, and throbbing. It’s also very booming and it makes you feel like you have to watch your back. Also, Mike Shinoda’s fast rapping makes it sound like he’s anxious or suspicious about where he is. It’s a really great track that has every element representing the subject of the song.
The ever popular “One Step Closer” has an infectious guitar riff that you instantly recognize when you hear it. It’s an aggressive song that shows off Chester’s impressive vocals. He actually sounds like a lunatic here. He sounds pretty quiet during the verses, but as soon as the chorus hits he starts screaming his head off. It’s a great dynamic. “By Myself” has awesome music that sounds like an alarm going off. Again, it’s an aggressive song, but it plays around with the loud/quiet/loud technique. Mike Shinoda raps softly about losing oneself while Chester screams “Myself!”
The one song that everyone loves (or loathes) is “In the End.” You couldn’t escape from this song when it was released and it has suffered radio overplay, but when you hear this song again it really is quite good. The piano riff that plays at the beginning and end of the track is somber and really sets the tone for this song. Shinoda then begins rapping about the preciousness of time and the loss of friendship. Chester’s melodic vocals come in during the chorus and the bridge. I love the vocals here because they complement each other so well. They just sound really good together. So, before you roll your eyes at this song, take another listen to it. You may just fall in love with it again.
What I really love about this album, besides the fact that just about all of the songs are great, are the vocals. Mike Shindoa and Chester Bennington share vocal duties, but they each have their own style. Shinoda raps and has a deeper voice than Chester, but on certain songs it works so well. I wouldn’t call him the best rapper on the planet, but his rhyming skills are still pretty solid. Chester’s vocals, on the other hand, are melodic. It’s easy to sing along with him. In songs like “Pushing Me Away” and “Crawling” he sounds hurt and vulnerable. He also provides all the screaming vocals. The way he can switch between the two is impressive and sometimes will take you by surprise. I never noticed how great their vocals are until I listened to this album again.
The album deals with some heavy topics. Themes of isolation, abuse, betrayal, and bad relationships are found in the songs. “With You” and “Points of Authority” deal with failing relationships and the feelings that are left behind when everything is said and done. “A Place for my Head” is all about being used in a relationship and trying to get away from that person. But a lot of self doubt are found in the songs too. “Crawling” and “By Myself” talk about not knowing who you are anymore and being trapped in isolation. You spend everyday doubting yourself and trying to please others. This can make the songs sound like they’re whining sometimes, but mostly they give the songs some substance.
Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. It’s an awesome album even today. The songs are great, the music is energetic, and the vocals are impressive. Every song is a hit and will make you fall in love with the band all over again. Though Linkin Park has continue to be successful with their later albums, it’s this one they’ll be remembered for. When this came out it was refreshing and new. That may not be the case now, but either way it’s a stellar record. Listen to it now if you haven’t played it in a while.