Reanimation, by Linkin Park

91-reanimation

Released July 30, 2002

1 hr, 52 sec

The idea of the remix album has been tackled in various forms over the course of pop music’s history. There’s no established formula for remix albums – they could be companion albums to their “original” works. They could be nothing more than promotional tools for the artist, the original songs with electronica-inspired beats shittily thrown under them. They could be so far-removed from the original work that they take on a life of their own, standing in an artist’s discography as a separate, nearly independent entity.

I hadn’t delved into the music world when Linkin Park released Reanimation in 2002. The album came two years after Linkin Park’s chart-conquering debut, not the follow-up that anyone expected (that would come in 2003), but rather a stopgap album to keep fans satiated while the finishing touches were put on 2003’s Meteora. Most of it was put together during the band’s 2001 Hybrid Theory tour, with members Mike Shinoda and Joe Hahn working on the new beats in the back of their tour bus, where some of Meteora was also recorded. They reached out to a surprisingly wide variety of artists from several genres that Linkin Park themselves were attached to, recorded those parts remotely, and then brought it back to the tour bus to compile. The result is something odd.

Reanimation is much more than just a straight remix album. It’s got a feeling of grandiosity to it right from the start, with “Opening” being driven by a violin and cello arrangement that makes the listener feel that what they’re listening to is a big deal. Compared to Hybrid Theory, Reanimation‘s track list is significantly jumbled up, beginning with a remix for “Points of Authority” (Hybrid Theory’s fourth track) and ending with “Crawling” (Hybrid Theory‘s fifth), with transitional tracks, an entirely new composition, and remixes for Hybrid Theory b-sides “My December” and “High Voltage” thrown in as well.

The end result is an album that feels like a standalone project, instead of an extra batch of promotion for an album that had already become a disgustingly fast seller in the music world. Though a majority of the songs use the original vocal tracks while trashing the regular beats, the album’s extensive feature list transforms many of the songs completely, which also spurred Shinoda and singer Chester Bennington to completely re-record many of their own vocals to match the new arrangements. Shinoda in particular was not averse to redoing his verses completely, with “Enth E Nd” and “Frgt/10” being the most striking examples. In other songs, he simply re-cuts his verse with a different flow and emphasis, like in “PLC.4 Mie Hæd” and “PPR:Kut.”

Regarding those weird names – I don’t actually know. I don’t remember reading anything about why the band chose to use leetspeak of all things to corrupt each track’s name for Reanimation. A lot of them at least look interesting, and different things are done with each name. It’s frustrating, however, because the names are rendered so inconsistently across online platforms, particularly in the mid-2000s when I bought the album and had to bring it into iTunes. Random spaces and capitalizations, and every source is different. The back of the album is the only one to trust, and I don’t even have that any more. Glad they didn’t do that for Recharged.

The album’s remix focus, combined with many of its features coming from the underground hip-hop community, give Reanimation a far harder slant towards hip-hop than its “native” genre of the general rock spectrum (or, more accurately, the dreaded “nu-metal” label), which helped to soften critical vitriol. Hybrid Theory, despite its frankly ridiculously high sales, endured quite a bit of critical lambasting, particularly because its sound was so obviously “nu-metal,” a genre never really enjoyed by music critics, already on its way out by the time of Linkin Park’s arrival in 2000. Meteora endured the same skewering in the critical sphere, which gave Linkin Park the lasting reputation of being a band for “emo teenagers that hate their parents.” Even with their attempts at breaking away from the stereotypes associated with their music, critical favor has never been given to the band, and likely never will.

By contrast, Reanimation was praised, to a degree, for its attempts to bring smaller hip-hop artists to the forefront, by prominently featuring them in many of the album’s tracks, potentially allowing its fan base to discover those artists and expand their notoriety as a result. Bizarrely – and just like Hybrid Theory before it – the album managed to not hit #1 on the Billboard 200 at any point during its 33-week run, despite the ridiculous amount of hype surrounding it following Hybrid Theory.

Reanimation is a different album for, in a lot of ways, a different audience. Linkin Park, after Meteora, revealed that they would stop trying to conform to what their fanbase and critics expected of their music, and Minutes to Midnight was indeed a gigantic departure from the nu-metal emo teen wastelands of Hybrid Theory and Meteora. What we didn’t realize at the time, though, was that the band’s desire to be different and break away from their rapidly-cooling mold had already been exemplified in this gem of a remix album, not content to do anything that “traditional” remix albums always insisted on doing, and establishing that Linkin Park didn’t always have to stick to the same style of music. As they would show in 2007, they could do anything, and it would sell like crazy.

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