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From: Jennifer Tawiah
Category: Other stuff
Date: 21 August 2003
It may be said that nu-metal fans are recruited from angry teenagers sharing a common rebellious streak and a fascination with black, but I haven’t been a teenager for many years and having first heard their music then rushing out to buy both their albums early this year, I now consider myself a Linkin Park fan.
Linkin Park can be described as several bands rolled into one: Chester Bennington (singer) offers melancholic croons and bloodcurdling screams superbly; Brad Delson (headphone wearing guitarist) tantalises with powerful chords, Rob Bourdon (drummer) makes complex drum patterns sound easy, Mike Shinoda (rapper) and Joseph Hahn (dj) add a certain urban flava to their music.
Admittedly, if you’re accustomed to the hard-core rappers of today you may at first think that Mike’s rap skills sound a bit odd. However, if you listen to both albums a couple of times it’ll probably occur to you, as it did me, that his rap shouldn’t be any other way and clicks perfectly with Chester’s classic rock bellow. In fact, that is the sound that makes them Linkin Park.
Not only do they cross genres in music; in addition to the angry, screeching vocals and guitars that every rock / nu-mutal band must have, Linkin Park back this with a solid blend of samples, mixing, rapping, and a versatile sound which makes their music stand out. Their tracks move at breakneck speed from one to the next, providing crisp beats accompanied by Mike’s rhythmic rap and Chester’s sexy vocals. The sounds are mesmerising and prove that they are more talented and complex than the hard rock boy bands that have appeared of late.
Their 12-track debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’ opens with ‘Papercut’, an upbeat tune about paranoia that is mainly rock with hints of hip-hop and techno. The next song, ‘One Step Closer’, is an angry sounding rock tune with a pulsing beat, guitars and catchy chorus: “Everything you say to me / take's me one step closer to the edge / and I'm about to break.” The third track, ‘With You’, starts with a melodic synthesiser-sounding instrument followed by hard rock beat and is about someone only being around in the singer’s mind: “It's true the way I feel / was promised by your face / the sound of your voice / painted on my memory / even if you're not with me / I'm with you.” The album contains a mixture of roaring lyrics and quieter interludes that show the talent that Linkin Park have in amalgamating musical genres. ‘Points of Authority’ follows the same pattern as the previous songs - a blend of techno, rock and hip-hop and makes a solid statement of anger, frustration and helplessness with its chorus: “You like to think you’re never wrong / you like 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’ve learnt).” The fifth track on the album, ‘Crawling’, will send shivers down your spine with Chester belting out the chorus, “Crawling in my skin / consuming all I feel / fear is how I fall / confusing what is real.” This song starts out much slower than the previous tracks until it gets to the chorus. ‘Runaway’, picks up the pace going back to the rock and hip-hop beats with a rap-punctuated verse. The “metal”-sounding ‘By Myself’ is a sad song about losing hope. ‘In the End’, one of Linkin Park's biggest hit so far and incidentally the track that brought them into my life, is good lyrically and vocally, with a great piano intro and outro. The message here is, regardless of whether you make mistakes or make it big, it won’t matter in the end. ‘A Place for My Head’ has an upbeat catchy chorus and vocals with everything fitting together like a jigsaw. The track runs into ‘Forgotten’, which continues the same beat. ‘Cure the Itch’ is a slow techno, hip-hop, rap, drum sampling track by Mr Hahn. Its melancholy sound gives the opportunity to catch one’s breath and mull over the ferocious sounds of the previous tracks. ‘Pushing Me Away’ is the last track on the album with great rhythm, lyrics and harmony. The chorus: “The sacrifice is never knowing / why I never walked away / why I played myself this way / now I see / you’re testing me / pushes me away” is excellently belted out by Chester’s emotion-filled voice and leaves you in awe as the album ends.
18-months after their debut, Linkin Park have given us the 13-track ‘Meteora’ and prove that they have their own highly distinctive and melodic sound that is unmistakably, Linkin Park. Sure, this album may be very similar to the rejection and self-examining theme of ‘Hybrid Theory’, but it’s like continuing a great story and ‘Meteora’ is a lot lighter, creates a mood of exhilarating pessimism, plus the musical sounds are more varied and evocative. (As an enhanced CD, it also contains a fifteen-minute feature on making the artwork featured in the CD booklet.)
The album starts with the energetic and irate ‘Don’t Stay’ and is one of the few songs on the album that exclusively features lead singer, Chester. This track shows his ability to sing as well as scream with the best rockers and the lyrics “I don’t need you anymore / I don’t want to be ignored / I don’t need one more day / of you wasting me away / with no apologies,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. The next track and first single, ‘Somewhere I Belong’, starts out softly then moves into a raucous rap-metal vortex. Mike’s rap is full of self-blame, ‘Just stuck / hollow and alone / and the fault is my own / and the fault is my own.’ He then interweaves with Chester in ‘Lying from You’ to rap about pretending to be what one is not just for the sake of another person, while Chester roars “let me take back my life / I’d rather be all alone / ‘cause I can see / the very worst part of you / is me.’ In ‘Hit the Floor’, the singer demands honesty from a partner who makes him ‘walk on eggshells’ and has the upper hand in the relationship but goes on to say ‘what goes up has got to fall.’ This track is accompanied by a great hard rock guitar motif. The pace slows down in “Easier to Run” with Chester singing emotionally about it being ‘Easier to run / replacing this pain with something numb’ and Mike rapping ‘If I could change I would / take back the pain I would / retrace every wrong move that I made I would.’ This is a theme that can appeal in any musical genre and provides a well-needed breather because the next track ‘Faint’ is an explosive rock track full of speed and energy. Again, Mike and Chester’s voices weave beautifully, with Chester screaming ‘No / hear me out now / you’re gonna listen to me like it or not / right now’, assuring that he definitely can’t be ignored. ‘Figure.09’ is slightly slower than the previous track and starts off with Mike’s rhythmic rap before Chester’s bellows take over in the chorus. On the following upbeat track, ‘Breaking the Habit’, a guy wants to change the error of his ways: ‘I don’t know why I instigate / and say what I don’t mean / I don’t know how I got this way / I know it’s not all right / so I’m breaking the habit tonight.’ Chester sings out emotionally in ‘From the Inside’ about not knowing who to trust and being tired of the deceit. His strong voice carries the message in the lyrics superbly: ‘cause I swear / for the last time / I won’t trust myself with you.’ The next track ‘Nobody’s Listening’ is almost all hip-hop but (and this is Linkin Park’s musical amalgamation at its best), its based on Japanese pan flutes! The singer is annoyed about being ignored and states ‘I tried to give you warning / but everyone ignores me / told you this loud and clear / but nobody’s listening.’ The next instrumental track is created mainly by Mike and once again offers a well-needed breather before smoothly moving onto the last song on the album, ‘Numb’. This track complains about being restricted, controlled and smothered and is a theme that most people of any age, can identify with. With the backing of a great up-tempo beat, Chester puts his strong, haunting voice to devastating effect with a clarity and achingly melancholy that shows just how much his voice has matured since their debut album.
On the whole, Linkin Park’s music consists of a solid formula of strong hooks, choruses, bridges and an innovative fresh mixture of beats. The musical arrangement is something to be applauded, sometimes abandoning the strong powerful rock guitar chords and opting for strings, they succeed in producing refreshing and talented sounds that hint of great things to come.
The only complaint would be about the length of the albums. They’re short. Hybrid Theory clocks in at 37:53 minutes and Meteora at 36:41 minutes. However, those minutes are full of intense emotions and incredible sounding music. So rather than berate them, you tend to enjoy the addictive musical ride, then start the musical journey over again when it ends too quickly.
I’d definitely recommend adding both Hybrid Theory and Meteora to your music collection. Linkin Park offer something for everyone and you won’t feel cheated as long as you keep your mind open to accepting different musical flavours.
Oh, and the bonus – Linkin Park portray their message of power, abandonment, self-esteem and seeking to rise above trials, without a single swear word. Well done boys!
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