Review Summary: It's funny how times change. Back in 2001., this was the record of my life. 8 years later, things are a little bit different.3 of 7 thought this review was well written
If you are over 18 you probably remember when Hybrid Theory hit the shelves. It came out of nowhere and sold faster than food supplies before Y2K. It broke all possible records and it seemed like everyone and their grandma were listening to it. The combination of hip-hop, fat drop-D guitar riffs, screaming and cheesy lyrics was an instant win for the angst driven teenage population pissed off by their parents, their awful life and by the fact that no one seems to know about them except for the bullies. I myself was one of the kids that got hooked by Linkin Park and I worshiped this album every day. Some 8 years later it's time for a bit more objective view on this record.
Nu metal was the fad at the turn of the millenium and Linkin Park was certainly the most prominent band in the scene. Their records sold in tens of millions, their concerts became bigger and bigger, and it all started with their first LP, Hybrid Theory. This record was so god damn big that it poses an inevitable question. What on earth made it such? What was the secret ingredient that sold it in more than 20 million copies, not even counting the ones that got burnt or the ones downloaded from the Internet? Well, for one thing, teenagers viewed it as a work they can relate to. It cleverly mixed easily accessible hip hop (devoid of biatches, pimps and swear words), a bunch of melodic hooks, angry yelling acting as an outlet for pain and frustration, heavy guitars for those who wanted to be so alternative or metal and a non complicated rythm section, all wrapped up in the silkiest production available. That combination worked like a swiss clock when it came to marketing and selling the product but it is just below average when it comes to quality. Hybrid Theory just isn't a record which is remembered by anything but the number of the MTV spins it received. It's simply a synonym for a cliched, trendy album with average songwriting at best, coupled with „true and emotive“ lyrics. The guitar riffs are bland and repetitive, the bass is almost non existing in the mix or mind numbingly simple, the vocals artificialy enhanced (if you ever heard Bennington live or on a live record you will notice that exactly because of that reason his performance is not even a shadow of the studio one) and hip hop and drum performance average at best.
The lyrics are a story for themselves. I would bet money that someone can write an algorithm which would describe how these lyrics were written. It's all about how this world sucks and how you lose time on waiting for it to be better, meanwhile being paranoid, left by yourself, forgotten by everyone, clinging one step closer to the end, wanting to run away from it all. And that's about it, they have an expiration date depending on the age of the listener.
The song structure is a game-set-match argument against every single critic who praised the albums inventivness. It roughly evolves around this concept: intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-outro. No song exceeds 4 minutes and they were all a potential single except Cure For The Itch which is an entirely computerized instrumental track (if you consider samplers and turntables as valid instruments). The closest to a quality song Linkin Park comes is in Pushing Me Away which lacks the generic rapping and actually has a good, natural harmonic driven, guitar line. All the other ones are not worth describing simply because I would be saying the same things over and over for every one of them.
To sum it all up- Hybrid Theory is an average record at it's best moments (and there aren't many of those). It is so now, and it was so when it came out, only we who fell for it didn't know any better. Today the people who have grown up in a musical sense realise fully the shallowness of such an album which was made to be sold in as many copies as possible. Frankly, it's hard not to realize it. However, I'm not giving it the worst grade simply because of the fact that the record is not actually repulsive. It's perfectly fit for shallow, periodical entertainment for those who want to take a rest from contemplating real music and according to that it serves at least some purpose.