CLASSIC ALBUMS REVISITED: Linkin Park – 20 Years of “Hybrid Theory”

The year 2000 is very memorable for many things, exceptionally in music. As pop dominated the airwaves with releases such as, N*Sync’s No Strings Attached, and Britney Spears’ Oops I Did it Again, an album that was forced by the media into the new category nu-metal was about to become historic.

Released on October 24, 2000, Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory (Warner Bros) broke records. It was the highest-selling album since 1988’s Appetite for Destruction (Geffen), selling 32 million worldwide to this day. It was an early introduction to genre-bending and an education to rule-breaking since no other band was hitting cross-cultural genres like that at the time.

Thrown into the virile nu-metal genre, Linkin Park stood apart. And sure there was Limp Bizkit, who a year prior were gaining momentum and this seems like another version without the chain and red cap, yet for a band that most people in the scene did not appreciate, they sure became monumental.

Thematically, it opened up a realm of possibilities for teens alike. Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, the brain that held up the Linkin Park body, showcased deception, control, psychological and physical abuse in their songs. Even the idea of suicide that later came to haunt the band, was a topic that very few bands were talking about, nonetheless in the mainstream.

Bennington and Shinoda worked so well together. Bennington with his powerhouse vocals, conveying each emotion like in “Runaway” and in “A Place for My Head” brilliantly expressed vivid lyrics written and rapped by Shinoda. The teenage angst felt in “Points of Authority” felt raw and the band demonstrated a vulnerability at a different level with the Grammy-winning “Crawling.” The intro to “Crawling” is so iconic and Bennington’s guttural scream is chilling.

Musically diverse, each member of the band brought their own influences to this debut. Drummer, Rob Bourbon’s groove, and funk influence can be heard in “Pushing Me Away” and the rhythmic “With You.” Guitarist, Brad Delson and DJ Joe Hahn’s boom-bap and downtempo, electronica riffs and beats come in so clean in “Cure for the Itch.”

Working with producer Don Gilmore (Eve 6, Good Charlotte) was a challenge for the band as he thought that Linkin Park needed to develop more radio-friendly tunes. From that, the band developed their first single, the gritty and explosive, “One Step Closer.” The song is heavy, super melodic riff, and on its own, electronic.

And who is to forget the one song that this year marked its one-billionth view on YouTube, “In the End?” The emotional sentiment is so instinctive and compelling. Perhaps it is the moody piano or the distinctive relatable lyrics. One of the best songs that Linkin Park can perform live, where they just let the crowd take over it and let them pour their personal emotion out into the universe.

To celebrate the 20 years of Hybrid Theory, the band has released 50 tracks, B-sides, remixes, and live performances. It is a lot but it is interesting to hear early versions of songs and how they transformed into megahits. The Mos Def sample on “She Couldn’t” is spectacular and bassist, Dave Farrell’s cello and violin in “Krwlng” are fantastic.

The 12 songs on Hybrid Theory are so perfectly crafted. In just under 38 minutes, it is undoubtedly the most popular piece of heavy music of the 21st century. To many, Linkin Park was the gateway to acts that they would later tour with: Metallica, Deftones, Korn, and Taking Back Sunday. Moreover, these 12 songs were the perfect introduction to a band that became a household name. Even after 20 years, we keep coming back to Hybrid Theory because where the band’s sharpest tendencies are mashed with emotion that we all carry.

Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Edition available now: