OAAR: Linkin Park - Meteora (2003)

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Linkin Park's second album, Meteora, is just one big con. There, I said it. By no means is it a bad album or something you should avoid listening to if you're a Linkin Park fan, but just be aware that the goods sold to you on the second listed track are not what Meteora is all about. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you've been waiting three years for a new Linkin Park album after listening to their first, and arguably best, album. But those three years have felt more like 5. So you go to the local Sam Goody (remember those?) and buy the Meteora Special Edition (because you can..also, remember those?). From there, you go out to your car and unwrap the CD like a man possessed. You take that fresh disk out and slide it into the aftermarket CD player you paid $300 for. "What do you hear first?" I hear you ask.

Well, once you pop the CD in, you're greeted with an explosion than sounds of anvils or something like that on the track "Foreword." A right proper title for the first track if you ask me (no, I'm not British). The excitement starts to build because what is there to follow some really cool sound effects but a masterpiece. Well, this first track ushers us perfectly into the first actual song on the album, "Don't Stay." A grin starts to spread across your face as Mr. Han's samples lead to a single, heavily distorted guitar then from there, BAM. The whole band comes in to usher you into the next, heaviest, Linkin Park album. Chester greets you with his vocals, effortlessly transitioning from the melodic to the harsh raspiness he will be known to over-utilize only one album later. Linkin Park is back!

But then, "Somewhere I Belong" starts up and the heavy guitars are replaced with some strange sounds from Mr. Han and some clean guitars. You worry for a moment only to have the distortion come back. So you think you're ok, and then the distortion drops out again and Mike Shinoda starts rapping. Chester comes in here and there reminding you that he's still here and promising that you'll hear more from him, which you do in the chorus when the distortion comes back. But from here on out, the album is never the same. Shinoda seems to have replaced Chester as front-man. He's giving a decent performance, sure, but you just feel like the songs could be better. There are some brighter spots than others, like the popular "Faint", the Chester fronted "Breaking the Habit"  and Mr Han's solo in "Session" but it just seems like Meteora never quite reaches as high as it could have. At least until "Numb" where Chester and Shinoda finally come together to lay down a fantastic track.

Again, don't get me wrong. I still enjoy this album and the very solid flow from track to track which makes for a spectacular overall experience but like I said, I feel somewhat cheated. Hopefully, next time you wander back down Meteora way, you'll better remember what you've really signed up for and have a much better time as a result. P.S. - Take a look at our scores for "Don't Stay" then think about the score while listening to the end of the track. Do you think they knew how we'd score it?

Author: Jake

In a world full of bands who suffer the "sophomore slump", it's always exciting when one band hits back with an album as good as - dare I say better? No, no I don't - than the first.  And when it happens it is the most natural thing in the world to wonder "What's the secret?  Why don't other bands follow this model?"  There's a long and complicated answer probably, but let's cut all the bull.  Linkin Park took the most surefire way of repeating debut success, make the same damn album again.  Now, of course this should bother you some, but not too much.  Remember, bad music (modern country) and good music (AC/DC) have parlayed the repeated album motif into millions of dollars.

In Linkin Park's case, Meteora is very much akin to Hybrid Theory.  Yet where the latter was driven by guitar riffs and an inspired new ("nu-") blend of metal, the former is filled with catchy vocal melodies, hooks, and sequences (probably a main contributing factor to Jake and I having a 10 point difference in rating).  The combination of these disparate parts forms into perhaps the most sonically cohesive album in the band's catalog, but at the same time you, the listener, are experiencing sonic stasis.  If you're jacked when the album starts, you're jacked when it's over, yet somehow the same experience goes for sadness, indifference, and the desperate need to pee.  The songs are very good, overall, as evidenced by the litany of 4s I handed out.  Whether it's "Breaking The Habit", "Don't Stay", or "Easier To Run" that comes on, I'm pleasantly surprised and do enjoy my 3 minutes of turn of the century reminiscence. "Somewhere I Belong" is a top notch track, that reminds you that you're listening to the same band, just three years later.  "Numb", which I would posit is the best Linkin Park song ever, leaves you with promises of what's to come.  But all in all, Meteora does the same thing Hybrid Theory did, it announces the band's legitimacy and teases the future.  And as enjoyable as this album is that fact will make it always good, but never great.
Author: Pete

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