Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Linkin Park's "Reanimation" (2002)

Linkin Park - Reanimation (2002, USA)
Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Enth E ND, Frgt/10, Ppr:Kut, My Dsmbr

When it comes to remix albums, it's hard for them to live up to the greatness of the original tracks. Being a huge Linkin Park fan after the release of their debut album Hybrid Theory, I was curious what would come of this first remix album. Around the time the album was released, MTV2 did a special MTV:Playback featuring every track on the album. Looking it up now, I have learned that majority of the videos were specially made by MTV2 and only about 4-5 were or became "official". Nonetheless, I was pumped and, back then, I recorded the special on VHS and treasured it along with some other special features by the band.

"Opening" begins with some lovely strings and keyboard melody that gently lures you into this remix album. It's beautiful and soft introduction that eases listeners, while the piano carefully adjusts your ears to the first track. "Pts.Of.Athrty" features Orgy frontman Jay Gordon in an intergalactic robot battle. The song keeps the aggressive intensity in the lyrical delivery, letting Chester's words echo as he screams. Meanwhile, the music has a more electronic rock sound to it, stripping a few elements away from the original. This was the perfect jumpstart for the promotion of this album.

"Enth E Nd" features Kutmasta Kurt and Motion Man in a more hip-hop focused version of Hybrid Theory's "In The End" with Mike Shinoda. The video shows the three of them in the backseat of a car with a monitor and a DJ control panel. It's a very cool, stripped down take of the popular single that shows that the band really does straddle the fence of hip-hop and rock. The chorus maintains its pull for fans to sing along, even though the music quiets as Chester's voice is altered and played with by the DJ's hands.

"Frgt/10" features Alchemist and Charli 2na in an altered melody. "Forgotten" is a track I didn't listen to often from Hybrid Theory, so this new version was something I really enjoyed. It takes snippets of the original and repeats it throughout the verses, then it brings out a more hip-hop sound to the beat while still maintaining a few rock elements in the drums and electronic equipment. I really enjoyed the shared rap verses and the distorted singing chorus almost echoing toward your speakers. It's a very successful and slightly haunting remix compared to its original aggressive sound.

"P5hng Me A*wy" features Taproot's vocalist and guitarist Stephen Richards in an unforgettable (and probably disturbing or disgusting) remix that easily became one of my favorite tracks on the album. Stephen's vocals and the added electronic distortions and effects make it a bit ominous, but has an amazing build up that I always anticipate every time I listen to the song. I really enjoy how distant Chester's voice sounds in the beginning, then becomes more clear along with Mike's voice and the music. The altered and extended lyrics and vocal moments are very passionate and genuinely pleading to the listener's ears that you just want more. It was a pleasant surprise for the track that was an amazing ending to Hybrid Theory turned into an equally amazing remix. Every time the track ends, I feel sad that the journey is over, but excited for what's next on the album. "Plc.4 Mie Hæd" features Amp Live and Zion that leans more toward the band's rock sound. The song starts off with more sound effects than actual music while Mike raps the first verse. It's a track that I listen to more or less than the original. It has a good enough amount of energy from the dual vocals, but the guest rap by Zion can be a bit hit or miss in places (also depending on mood). "X-Ecutioner Style" is a short DJ scratching skills track that features Sean C and Roc Raida of The X-Ecutioners and Black Thought. The track mostly consists of scratches, fundamental hip-hop melodies, Chester's "Shut Up" line from "One Step Closer" that fans love to shout during shows, some musical snippets from "Cure For the Itch" and "One Step Closer", and a little rapping. It's a track I usually skip over. "H! Vltg3" features Evidence, Pharoahe Monch, and DJ Babu and is a track that I don't think I've ever listened to the original (or at least, not completely). Perhaps after writing this review, I'll give it a listen or two. From what I've gathered, this version of the song mostly retains its original form, but pulls back the beat to more outer space hip-hop sound with repetitive keyboard and more rap verses. Both "[Riff Raff]" and later "[Stef]" are simply answering machine/voicemail messages left for the members of the band and they're really not worth talking about. "Wth>You" features Aceyalone and showcases Chairman Hahn's turntable skills as he manipulates the original version. For the most part, it sounds almost exactly the same, but somehow sounds more...epic! Vocals sound more far away than others, Chester's bridge section and chorus sounds a bit more stretched out and more aggressive, and the music has some extra elements sprinkled here and there. Aceyalone's contribution fits in very well with the original lyrical arrangement as well. "Ntr/Mssion" continues a similar piano melody from the "Opening", but mostly bridging the transition from this song to the next, which the album does a lot of.

"Ppr:Kut" features Cheapshot, Jubacca, Rasco, and Planet Asia in an almost haunting and sped up version of the original "Papercut". I love the original and the remix is just as good. The music is almost exactly the same, but emphasizes the guitar and drum sections of the song. It definitely has a more panic sense about it and the guest rap verses are a great addition to the original lyrical layout by Chester and Mike.

"Rnw@y" features Backyard Bangers and Phoenix Orion in an epic journey of time restraints. The original track was something I would listen to every now and then, but something about this remix gives a feeling of urgency. For the most part, the vocal arrangement and music resemble the original quite a bit, but the lyrics are cut off in the chorus contributing to that urgent feeling along with the quieting and swelling of the music. The music video also emphasizes that feeling. My favorite part is Phoenix Orion's rap verse that gives you that moment to breath, although listening to the content of his words, I'm not completely sure how it relates to Chester's lyrics, but...whatever. "My Dsmbr" features Mickey P. and former Sneaker Pimps frontwoman Kelli Ali in a melancholy electronic rendition of "My December"; a track I've heard after the fact. This version of it is more sped up and has more musical elements than the duet piano and vocal arrangement of its predecessor. I think the pacing of this track makes me enjoy it more than the original as opposed to the order I heard both tracks. I enjoy Chester and Kelli Ali's vocals working together with a hint of support from Mike from time to time. It's a really beautiful track either version you listen to, but if you're like me and are picky about slow tracks, this version is your best bet. When I first listened to the album, I was looking forward to hearing what they were going to do with my favorite Hybrid Theory track, "By Myself". Unfortunately the Josh Abraham collaboration for "By_Myslf" disappointed me in areas. It lacked punch in places and the chorus was altered more than the previous tracks by changing the wording and pace of the delivery. I think the only part of the track that I genuinely enjoyed was the bridge with Mike partially rapping and Chester screaming, but for the most part, I think there was too much yelling and the beat didn't excite me. "Kyur4 th Ich" highlights Chairman Hahn's skills as a DJ and possibly one ups his original, "Cure for the Itch". It's easily an enjoyable track and I think he deserves more solos from time to time.

"1Stp Klosr" features The Humble Brothers and KoRn's vocalist Jonathan Davis in another track that I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, I found this track rather underwhelming and sounded too close to a KoRn song in a lot of areas. It has a nearly 2 minute intro before getting to the actual song that's more monotonous than exciting and it just doesn't live up to the high energy of the Hybrid Theory original. To my surprise, Staind's vocalist Aaron Lewis redeemed the conclusion to this remix album with "Krwlng". While it also contains a long intro before getting to the first verse, it actually has some sort of build up to the music and adds quiet vocal snippets from Chester and Mike. It's a very zen sounding remix that cleverly ties back to the "Opening" track of the album. I love the wondrous electronic sounds of the musical arrangement and even the dual vocals between Chester and Aaron. In short, it's a surprisingly beautiful remix to an anger filled song that kept me hooked to Linkin Park years ago.

Reanimation was a surprising and excellent follow up and remix to an equally excellent debut album. It was an album that truly solidified my support for Linkin Park and embraced my love (or obsession) for the band as my favorite American rock band. The album expertly displays the band's ability to take chances and experiment with their sound as well as elevate majority of their original tracks with the help of collaborations with other artists. It's definitely an album that no Linkin Park fan should skip out on!

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