Let's go right back to the start.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been twenty years since the world was introduced to Linkin Park by way of the record breaking ‘Hybrid Theory’, but here we are. With a 20th anniversary edition brimming with rare stuff released today, they’ve created the perfect time capsule of their beginnings.
Scoping the entire Linkin Park timeline, from their beginnings as Xero with original vocalist Mark Wakefield, the name-change to Hybrid Theory before the introduction of Chester Bennington, and their final form of Linkin Park, its eighty tracks covers a fair bit of ground. So we had a dive into the lot to see what some standouts are.
If you’re a lifer, you’ve probably heard 95% of this before, but this boxset isn’t just for the diehards. Even as a casual fan, there’s no better way to get immersed in the complex world of Linkin Park...
IN THE END (DEMO)
Quite possibly the biggest Linkin Park track, hearing it in its early days paints a completely different picture to the savage hurt that comes through the studio version; including an entirely different rap from Mike Shinoda and slightly amended Chester vocals.
BUY MYSELF (MARILYN MANSON REMIX)
Ripping apart the heavy elements and instead exposing the wires of one of the hardest tracks on 'Hybrid Theory', Marilyn Manson’s deft touch removes some of the immediacy and instead lets the silences breathe the rest of the picture and turns 'By Myself' its own creeping beast.
The wait has been well worth it for this one. Even in its raw form, 'Pictureboard' has all the makings of a Linkin Park classic. Perfectly meshing twinkling verses with an abrasively emotional chorus where Chester proclaims “And I won’t walk away”, plenty of DJ scratches and Mike’s deft spitting, this twenty year itch has finally been scratched.
HIGH VOLTAGE (HYBRID THEORY EP)
A song that’s got a few iterations kicking around, this original version from the band's EP under the name Hybrid Theory is where the building blocks began. It's heavy on the hip-hop as well, which is something they would later revisit on 'Reanimation' and on various other remixes throughout the years that followed.
DEDICATED (1999 DEMO)
A righteous hip-hop track that’s found itself into live freestyles over the years, this ’99 demo digs into the heart of just who Linkin Park are; voices for the disenfranchised.
This is worth it just for Chester’s piercing solo scream at the beginning. There are slight differences, such as the enhanced silence before the chorus crashes in or the ghostly presence of Mike’s vocals beneath Chesters, and there’s no doubt the studio version is untouchable but hearing the pieces build up brick-by-brick and being able to hear what elements remain is what makes this version just a bit special.
PTS. OF. ATHRITY (CRYSTAL METHOD REMIX)
A remix of a remix? That's got Linkin Park written all over it. This one from The Crystal Method expands the electronic elements a thousand-fold, creating a thick, dance-ready colossus.
PART OF ME (HYBRID THEORY EP)
While the Hybrid Theory EP may be readily available on the Linkin Park website as a download, chucking it in with the Hybrid Theory anniversary is the perfect segue into LP’s career. While the track itself is a diamond, the repetitive white noise/dial tone at the end leads to a hidden instrumental track perfectly befitting of a video game.
SAD (BY MYSELF DEMO 1999)
Another throwback to the band’s days as Hybrid Theory. This time it's the very seed of the song where the brutality of the chorus is still present but there’s more emotion to the verses with the rest of the studio version stripped away.
STEP UP (1999 DEMO)
Another song that has worked its roots into various other projects, including Mike and Joe Hahn’s collaboration with The X-Ecutioners. 'Step Up' is another hip-hop heavy-hitter that shows just what the band were concocting for the future.
DIALATE (XERO DEMO)
A cut that features original vocalist Mark Wakefield, this is one of the few tracks in the collection to be unheard over the years. Bristling with furious white noise and featuring a sample from Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, it's peak Linkin Park before Linkin Park even existed.
ESUAL (A PLACE FOR MY HEAD DEMO)
One of the earliest Linkin Park ‘as they came to be’ demos, under its original name, this favourite finally found its power and energy thanks to Chester giving it a fighting edge. The fact that the original Xero demo, which is also included in the collection, provides a contrast where you hear that perfect synchronicity between Xero and Chester, and what they would later become, is worth the price of admission alone.
BLUE (1998 UNRELEASED HYBRID THEORY DEMO
One of the first tracks the band, as Hybrid Theory, worked on, it has all those recognisable pieces of an LP track, but it’s the use of the chorus melody from 'Crawling' in the bridge of the song that makes this a real gem.
A Linkin Park Christmas song, of sorts. Initially appearing on an American radio station’s Christmas compilation album, this slow lament helped continue to pave the way for the delicate nature that LP would bring on future releases.
SHE COULDN'T (DEMO)
The first release to come out of this mammoth set and one of the first tracks Linkin Park penned, this emotionally soft number stylistically veers from the Hybrid Theory world, but still contains the key elements that make the band so special. Electronic beats and a yearning to help.