Album review: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory (20th Anniversary Edition)

6 mins read

A deep dive into the origins of the legendary band and their best-known album. After two decades, the power of Chester Benningtons’ voice continues to impress.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For me, personally, “Hybrid Theory” is one of the greatest albums ever made. It’s super unique in the way that it combines rap with heavy, hard rock music. The songs talk about difficult emotions that we all experience, making it relatable. Prepare for an emotional roller coaster while listening to it.

This was the debut album for Linkin Park. It launched them into world fame and suddenly it has been 20 years since its initial release, showing how much time flies. A lot has changed for the band in those twenty years, from the changes in musical style and the devastating loss of their lead singer Chester Bennington a few years ago. But still, this album and the legacy of the band lives on and now we get to enjoy some rare demos from the making of this record.

First of all, many of the songs on the original album hold a very big emotional meaning for me personally. The songs are raw and honest about some of the most difficult emotions that we deal with. I can’t think of any other singer who can describe depression in such an honest and accurate way, as Chester Bennington does, especially on this album.

The song ‘Crawling’ is one of the heaviest songs on the album in terms of emotional intensity. Then add to that the impressive vocals of Bennington, which raise the hairs on the back of my neck every single time.

Credit: Official Charts Company

This album starts with the original songs and then moves on to the remixes, made by other artists and/or Linkin Park. These are not new and they have been released before in 2002 on their album ‘Reanimation‘. The remixes are fresh new takes on the old songs and by mixing the lyrics and changing the melodies they bring new dynamics to the songs. It’s amazing how small changes to, for example, the melodies can change the overall feeling of the song.

The album is divided into six parts: the original album, Reanimation, Hybrid Theory EP, live versions and rarities, demos and finally the unreleased songs. The most interesting part is the demos and unreleased songs.

It is fascinating to hear how the songs evolved from the demos to the versions on the album. Some of them have completely different lyrics in the demos. The songs could have been very different in meaning if the lyrics weren’t changed. For example, the demo for ‘In The End’ has a very different feeling to it because the verses are completely different from the album version. It feels like a completely different song, even though the chorus is exactly the same. All of the demos have a very special energy to them. It’s the raw energy of a band that’s just getting started, giving it all they’ve got.

Credit: Billboard

The unreleased songs that didn’t make it on the album are surprising. Some of them fit the album musically, but the lyrics don’t necessarily match with the rest of the album – probably why they didn’t make it to the final cut. The most distinct one is ‘She Couldn’t’ because it is completely different musically. It doesn’t have a heavy guitar-driven riff that most of the songs on the album have. Instead, it has a super catchy sample and you hear the angelic voice of Chester without his trademark screams. I really like the song but it makes me feel a bit weird, to be honest. Hearing Chester’s voice in a new song feels haunting. If Linkin Park had decided to release that song and build the album around it, it would have changed the whole course of the album. The style would have been completely different and who knows if it would’ve been successful or not. Regardless, the song is really unexpected, whether you like it or not is up to you.

Listening to the unreleased songs and demos made me think how different the album could have been, and what that would have done to the future of the band. Would Hybrid Theory have been the huge success it ended up being? We will never know.

Feature Image Credit: The Mellow Music picture of the album cover

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