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Limp Bizkit vs Linkin Park
This week we look at two of the best-selling Nu-Metal albums of all time
In October 2000, two albums were released that were like atomic blasts going off in the music scene. Both of them absolute Nu-Metal classics, though from two very different bands. One band were already famous, though with a degree of notoriety. The other band literally came out of nowhere.
By the time ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water’ was released, Limp Bizkit had already sold millions of records. In 1999 they played at the now infamous Woodstock 99 festival, and were blamed (perhaps unfairly) for inciting violence during their set.
In 1999, in and around LA, a band called Xero hired a new vocalist called Chester Bennington and changed their name to Hybrid Theory. They recorded some demos and with the aid of some street PR (and a new fangled thing called the internet), they began to develop a fanbase. Renaming themselves Linkin Park, they initially struggled to find a record deal (which seems faintly ridiculous with the benefit of hindsight).
The two albums we are about to dissect would come to define the Nu-Metal era. they were the ‘Thriller’ and ‘True Blue’. The ‘Nevermind’ and ‘Ten’ of the 00s.
But were they actually any good, and which album is better? Today we find out!
The first track from ‘Chocolate Starfish’ is a dumb industrial sounding intro that should have been erased. This is the kind of crap bands get away with when they’ve already some millions of records. Awful, dated shite.
‘Hybrid Theory’ opens with one of Linkin Park’s most popular singles. Mike Shinoda showcases his rapping skills from the start. Chester Bennington almost plays backing vocalist here, until the beautiful outro of the track. ‘Papercut’ was actually the third single released from the album, though I suspect most fans had heard it already from listening to the album. A great rock song by any standards. It also spawned a video:
‘Hot Dog’ should have been the intro track from this album. Fred Durst introduces the band with an affected nasal twang. He says ‘fuck’ a lot. He says ‘titties’. He says ‘bitches’. He tries to sample Nine Inch Nails. This should be awful, terrible, juvenile rubbish.
But it’s brilliant. Wes Borland playing a mean guitar riff and Sam Rivers on bass channel a bit of Korn, and Durst perfectly casts himself as the rebellious frat-boy. This is the thing with Limp Bizkit. Sometimes, they swing and they miss. But sometimes they go deep and hit a dinger.
‘One Step Closer’ was the first single released from ‘Hybrid Theory’. It’s a Chester Bennington song. Chester sings lead vocals and Mike Shinoda, providing backing doesn’t rap. The guitar riff from Brad Delson is iconic and instantly recognisable for fans of the era. The video is fantastic with a bit of ‘floating in the air Matrix kung-fu in the subway’, firmly dating it to 99/00. One that strikes me about Linkin Park back then is that they are all very young, and good looking dudes. There is the impression that they are a boy band that picked up guitars. This would lead to the false belief that they were a manufactured band. They actually were not manufactured by the studio and resisted attempts to get rid of Mike Shinoda and have Chester as the solo vocalist.
This is the first ‘great’ tune from ‘Chocolate Starfish’. Fred Durst was 30 when this tune was released and it’s for sure a bit weird to hear him defending his generation from being dissed. But lyrically and musically, this tune slaps. This was the Nu-Metal anthem for suburban teenagers and mall-rats across the US. The riffs and grooves of the tune are infectious. Durst’s posing and rapping is completely absent of any sense of awareness or irony as he announces himself as the spokesman for Generation X.
Linkin Park showcase their Industrial and Hip-hop influences here. Sinoda raps, Joe Hahn mans the turntables and samples. Chester growls like a metal vocalist in the background. A solid example of the Linkin Park sound, though slightly forgettable in comparison to some other tracks.
This is actually a very decent tune that’s often overlooked in Limp Bizkit reviews. Fred Durst raps “You’ll get knocked the f*** out, coz your mouths writing checks that your ass can’t cash”. Durst seems to have an obsession on this album with people dissing him. Of course, he writes this as an indictment of criticism of the bands fanbase. Durst is the self proclaimed messianic figurehead for Nu-Metal kids.
Most Metal fans are familiar with this tune, but what they are probably recalling is the remix ‘Pts.OF.Athrty’. The original wasn’t actually released as a single, though it was one of the most popular tracks off of the album and was often played on the music channels with a live video. The video for the remix is below and is worth a look at to enjoy early 2000s CGI by the same guys who did the effects for the Firefly tv series.
I have an extremely vivid memory of a WWE tournament (yes, I was into wrasslin when I was younger), that might have been Wrestlemania XIX. It was The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin and I have genuinely no idea what happened in the fight, but what is seared into my mind is the post tournament montage. It showed all the best moves from the two wrestlers and the soundtrack was ‘My Way’ by Limp Bizkit.
So, I have a theory. If you don’t like the pantomime that is ‘Professional Wrestling’, you probably won’t like Limp Bizkit. Professional Wrestling (of which the WWE is the largest production company), is a multi-million dollar business with fans globally. The storylines are scripted, as is much of the actual on stage action. However, if you don’t focus too much on the minutiae, you have yourself an amazing spectacle that is brilliantly executed. There is real energy from the performers, that might even transform itself into passion.
But it’s still all a bit fake isn’t it? But does that matter if it brings you joy?
A hopeful sounding synth intro, segues into one of the biggest rock songs of the 00s. ‘Crawling’ was the second single from Hybrid Theory and possibly their most widely played hit. The video tells a story of domestic abuse. Chester’s beautiful vocals are juxtaposed with his harsher growls and Shinoda’s rapping. A 10/10 Nu-Metal track.
Here it is. This is the signature Limp Bizkit tune. This is the tune everyone will forever associate with the band. This is their ‘Stairway to Heaven’, their ‘Like a Virgin’.
The video for ‘Rollin’’, was filmed in Manhattan, and feature cameos by Stephen Dorff and Ben Stiller. Part of it was filmed on top of the south tower of the World Trade Centre. The band actually received a thank you note from NY Port Authority for using the WTC for their video.
Another part of the video shows Durst rapping with some backup dancers. This sequence is a bit 90s RnB and actually created Metals most iconic (and perhaps only) dance sequence.
For a time the backup, backup and rollin bits became as iconic a dance move as the YMCA in clubs around the world. This was a megahit. WWE Wrestling legend ‘The Undertaker’ briefly used the tune as his entrance music. It’s another variation on a diss track of course. Durst encouraging anyone who is being unfairly criticised to keep rollin, rollin, rollin. As ubiquitous as it sounds today, it’s actually a very effective and catchy rock track.
This is a more subdued Linkin Park song, but it still rocks. Focusing on more of Chester’s wonderful vocal range. It’s definitely an ear worm and unexpectedly veers into hard Nu Metal territory with a bridge that is reminiscent of Korn.
Fred Durst raps and growls about he is a crazy mf’er, and a redneck. He tries to rap like B-Real from Cyprus Hill here and to be fair, he nearly pulls it off. We should get the point that Durst has been trying to hammer home now in each song off this album. He’s a badass and he doesn’t care what people think.
‘By Myself’ combines hard metal riffs with Shinoda’s rapping over haunting synth sounds. Bennington basically sings backing vocals here and the song works really well.
This would have made an amazing instrumental track. The slinky bass and jangly guitars are like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at their best. Durst raps and sings over the tune about how he likes a girl and how they should give it a go. I guess this is a Limp Bizkit power ballad? If so, it’s not bad.
If this article was a popularity contest it would end right here. ‘In the End’ has over 1.5 Billion streams on YouTube and an additional 1.5 Billion streams on Spotify. The video to this track saw them on a fully CGI backdrop, replete with alien cetaceans flying across ancient temples. Y’know, like a ‘November Rain’ for sci-fi nerds.
The lyrics of the tune imply self-growth, strength, and resilience, allied with a sense of futility. Put in the mouths of Shinoda and Bennington, it’s a powerful Emo-fused Rock anthem.
When Chester Bennington sadly took his own life in 2017, we all began to read more into the lyrics than was likely intended. It is perhaps a fitting epitaph for the greatest Nu-Metal vocalist of them all.
Durst raps and tells us all (again) that we shouldn’t f’ with him. Because he’s a badass etc. He has backup here from rapper/actor Xzibit, who does lend the track an air of Hip Hop gravitas. Xzibit can’t save this though. It’s awful.
A very catchy guitar riff, some wikawika from the turntable, Shinoda dropping great bars, and Bennington with a singalong chorus. Excellent stuff.
This was actually the first Limp Bizkit single released in the UK (though through the miracle of satellite tv, UK fans were already familiar with the band). This was one of the singles released from the Mission: Impossible 2 soundtrack. MI2 had a hard rock soundtrack and also featured an excellent single by Metallica. However, the Limp Bizkit tune actually utilised the famous Mission Impossible intro music from the 60s tv series.
The single and the video have been maligned by critics and it was nominated for a razzie. However the exposure and the impact this song had on Limp Bizkit’s fame cannot be overstated. This was a massive hit. MI2 was the second highest grossing movie in the US in the year 2000. It beat Gladiator and X-Men at the box office and only Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas was more successful.
Personally I think this is a really fun metal song.
This is a ferocious Nu-Metal song. There’s a hint of Alice in Chains in parts of this tune. I’ve always felt Brad Delson doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Nu-Metal guitar playing is deliberately not as intricate as hair metal or glam rock. It’s about the riff and Delson’s riffs are core to this and many other LP songs.
Speaking of good Nu-Metal guitar players, I wonder if Limp Bizkit would have hit the heights of success that they did if Wes Borland was not their axe-man. Borland shows off his skills here on this dark ballad about a toxic relationship.
Joe Hahn is the DJ in Linkin Park. He showcased his skills in each and every tune on the album so far, but maybe you didn’t notice his bits. In case you didn’t, here is a track made up entirely of his samples and record scratching. For the uninitiated in DJ skills (like myself), this is quite impressive.
Boiler is Limp Bizkit’s attempt at a Nu-Metal epic. And by all accounts, it’s a soaring success. The lyrics hint at standing up for oneself in a toxic relationship and finding freedom on your own. Durst’s fusion of rap and singing is showcased here nicely. This seems to be Limp Bizkit in serious mode and while the song isn’t well known outside of their fanbase, it is perhaps one of their best compositions. Please check out the video as it’s absolutely mental!
This is the last track on ‘Hybrid Theory’. It’s classic Linkin Park. Chester bares his soul, while Shinoda raps insightfully beside him. This song is as strong as any of their singles and is proof that ‘Hybrid Theory’ deserves its place as one of Metals greatest ever debut albums. I don’t think there’s a bad track on this album at all.
There are only 12 tracks on Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory, but Chocolate Starfish’ weighs in at a 75 minute/15 track magnum opus.
‘Hold On’ is a wonderful ‘lighters in the air’ slow song. This is a duet with Scott Weiland, who was the wonderful vocalist with Stone Temple Pilots. Durst sings alternate verses to Weiland and holds his own.
This is a remix of ‘Rollin’’. Redman, Method Man, and DMX share rapping duties with Durst on this hot mess of a track. This should be an absolute disaster, but I’ll listen to Redman and Method Man rap all day long. DMX adds a nice bit of aggression with his verse.
Ok, now this is a disaster. Recorded for obvious lols, Ben Stiller and Durst exchange barbs and presumably tokes with each other. It’s sorta funny. Everyone is tired at the end of this album. It’s time to wrap up the article.
Limp Bizkit get a lot of criticism from some metalheads who feel the band epitomise the toxic, frat-boy vibes of the early 00s. Durst is a divisive figure and a lightning rod for those who disliked the sounds and ethos of Nu-Metal. He is however an accomplished frontman and astute at marketing the Limp Bizkit brand. The musicianship on the album is superb. ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water’ might be overlong and full of self praise, but it’s a classic album.
Linkin Park also got a lot of criticism as many Metal fans saw them as phonies. But they weren’t a manufactured band. We can see with the benefit of hindsight that they were the real thing. They were a product of their time. The emotional content of their music was delivered in a manner that was a little too on the nose for some peoples tastes. But that’s exactly what won the hearts of their fans.