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Linkin Park provides amplified voice of reason

Nothing says "train wreck" like interrupting a taut program of techno-informed rap-metal catharsis so a hyperactive MC can play grand piano while the singer performs alone, center-stage.

But there was no need to brace for a crash as Linkin Park momentarily ditched the phat grooves and "us-against-the-world" doctrine of the rap-metal nation - which it does better than most - to attempt something more adventurous.

"Breaking the Habit," a slow-building confessional about owning up to one's demons, employed subtle squalls of treated guitar and turntable shrapnel that swelled gradually over foursquare drumming. It was one of the few points during Tuesday's four-band bill at the sold-out Wachovia Spectrum where the crowd heard something that wasn't criminally similar to the previous song.

Upstart modern-rockers Story of the Year opened with a market-researched sound that could appeal to both the Warped Tour punks and the Ozzfest metal-heads. Hoobastank followed, proving to be a junior-varsity nu-metal squad, compared to the headliners.

P.O.D. is an intriguing, loud rock act that sets spiritual themes against hip-hop beats, post-grunge bombast, and the punk-funk of early hard-core. But a bottom-heavy sound mix sucked the life from songs such as the sing-along "Youth of a Nation.

Linkin Park's metallic alchemy rarely strayed from the script: MC Mike Shinoda and singer Chester Bennington traded rhyme and verse, and DJ Joseph Hahn and guitarist Brad Delson colored the verses with sharp effects, followed by huge power chords in scream-along choruses of anthems that rarely went longer than three minutes.

Not terribly original, but to the assembled youth who heard the battle cries against conformity, neglect and isolation addressed in songs such as "In the End," Linkin Park was an ear-splitting voice of reason. And sometimes that's all people want in a rock-and-roll band.

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 22, 2004


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