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Buy Meteora

Linkin Park
Meteora
label: Warner Bros.
released: 03.25.03
our score: 4.0 out of 5.0

Get Linkin Park sheet music and guitar tab!

 
What Sophomore Slump?
by: alex robbins - uk correspondent

Since the extraordinary success of their debut album Hybrid Theory, released three years ago, rock group Linkin Park have found themselves on the receiving end of some harsh criticism from certain sections of the music press. Although worshipped by some of the most dedicated fans around, many critics and rock afficianados have dismissed the band as a cynical, money-spinning enterprise, the puppets of sinister men in suits at their record label. The band’s ambitiously-titled, Don Gilmore-produced sophomore set for Warner Bros., Meteora, which has already topped the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic, gives the band an opportunity to disprove their critics and cement their rock credentials.

First and foremost, Meteora confirms what many suspected all along : Linkin Park are no more akin to ‘nu-metal’ than Mariah Carey. This is not a criticism; frankly, the last thing the world needs right now is yet more repetitive, Limp Bizkit-esque infantile whining and ultra-macho bragging. Linkin Park may appropriate some of the features of ‘nu-metal’, but, with Meteora, they prove that they have their own, highly distinctive and melodic, sound. This is still a kick-ass rock record, but it sounds like nothing else out there. It is unmistakably Linkin Park.

But, is Meteora any good? Well, there is certainly a welcome evolution in the band’s collaborative song-writing. Lyrically, it’s competent, and stays just the right side of tortured and embarrassing navel-gazing (Madonna, on the evidence of American Life, please take note), even if there is a strong sense of déjà-vu at times, particularly in the way the thematic arc of the record – moving broadly from the rejection of an unspecified ‘you’ to a process of self-examination - mirrors that of Hybrid Theory. Tonally, it’s a lighter, less claustrophobic album than its predecessor ; in its very best moments, it creates a mood of exhilarating pessimism. The musical soundscapes created for this album are more rhythmically-varied and evocative, songs such as ‘Nobody’s Listening’ allowing for interesting tensions to emerge as the aggressive vocal and chilled Eastern-style backing pull in different directions.

However, the overriding impression is that Meteora succeeds in spite of itself. It desperately wants to be the epitome of a flawless, high-tech, postmodern, 21st. Century rock record. Thankfully, it fails in this. To understand why, we need look no further than the jewel in Linkin Park’s crown - singer Chester Bennington, whose presence and compelling, powerful vocals drive Meteora and succeed in excavating the human from underneath the suffocating rubble of studio technology and the slightly grating, almost robotic raps of Mike Shinoda. Chester is the chink in Linkin Park’s armour and is thus, paradoxically, their greatest asset. His voice has matured since the recording of Hybrid Theory; he can still sing aggressively, but his voice has a new-found clarity and achingly melancholic, haunted tone which is put to devastating effect on emotive tracks such as ‘Easier to Run’ (as majestic and epic as Hybrid Theory’s chart-topping stand-out track, ‘In The End’), ‘Numb’ and ‘Breaking the Habit’, surely a future single and a radical departure for the group. It abandons the omnipresent crunching guitars and power chords for a swirling, string-laden (bet you never expected to hear strings on a Linkin Park record!), cinematic sound that becomes highly addictive and, when coupled with a smart lyric about dealing with anger, makes it, without a doubt, THE outstanding cut from the album (the weakest track is, surprisingly, the lead-off single, ‘Somewhere I Belong’, which never really catches fire). No amount of Pro-Tools trickery can efface the emotion and gut-wrenching rawness of Bennington’s vocals, which catapult Linkin Park into a different league.

Meteora is not a subtle record, by any stretch of the imagination. It wears its heart on its sleeve and rocks out at full volume, boasting strong hooks, choruses and bridges. It won’t change your world, but Linkin Park undisputably have that ‘X-factor’ which distinguishes them from the pack. They have recorded a strong sophomore album which is more accomplished, both musically and lyrically, than Hybrid Theory and, clocking in at just under 37 minutes, doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s probably a failure on its own terms, but a success thanks to Chester. More importantly, it hints at great things to come. The band have proved that artists don’t need to cuss and insult people to gain fans ; the music can speak for itself. Welcome back, Linkin Park, and I look forward to the third album.
23-Apr-2003 8:50 AM


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If you liked Meteora...

Tracklist:
1. Foreword
2. Don't Stay
3. Somewhere I Belong
4. Lying From You
5. Hit The Floor
6. Easier To Run
7. Faint
8. Figure.09
9. Breaking The Habit
10. From The Inside
11. Nobody's Listening
12. Session
13. Numb