Rage and anger are two common emotions that we all feel at some point in our lives. While often music of many genres is a conduit for said rage, few musical subgenres exhibit it as much as rock and metal do – specifically the nu-metal subgenre. And few bands – actually, no other band, really – were as successful at channeling it as Linkin Park was.
While the band’s 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory dabbled in all kinds of emotions – from betrayal to the emotional pain of abuse – anger was the catalyst behind debut single “One Step Closer”. The single, which introduced most fans to the band, channels and exhudes frustrations and tension that most of us can relate to at one point.
Part of the nostalgia factor for “One Step Closer” – and Hybrid Theory + Linkin Park in general – was the fact that this song dropped at a time where many were first discovering their favorite music. You never really forget the first time you connect with a song, a band, or even an album – and at a time where many millennials were approaching (or already had) their teen years, the band’s timely sound and relevant lyrics no doubt played a role in building up the band’s hype train.
A live staple that was generally the band’s live finale for many years, its rage left an indelible mark on anyone who heard it. Even the song’s hook of “shut up when I’m talking to you!” has its merits. After all, fueled by the confusion and complicated emotions of growing up, it’s only natural to want to scream at someone or something once you hit a breaking point. That’s just what “One Step Closer” is about – reaching the limits where you’ve had enough. This version just happens to be an audio assault led by Chester Bennington’s vocals.
In retrospect, it’s not hard to see why the band’s debut single ended up pushing Hybrid Theory’s release date up a bit to October, as it was an immediate smash hit on rock radio. Containing arguably nu-metal’s most iconic guitar riff (other than maybe “Blind”, “Faith”, or “My Own Summer (Shove It)”), “One Step Closer” no doubt was the product of anger and frustration about being turned down and constantly looked over. That’s as much a story about the band itself as it is the way they overcame it.