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ISSUE 116 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 5/2/2003

Linkin Park attains rap-metal perfection in ‘Meteora’

By Byron Vierk
Staff Writer

Friday, May 2, 2003

Linkin Park (LP) has always been the pop-iest of the nu-metal crowd, and “Meteora,” their newest album, does little to change that image.

“Meteora” is almost identical in mood to LP’s mega-hit album, “Hybrid Theory,” but that’s not exactly a bad thing. “Meteora” finds LP refining their sound rather than experimenting with it, and the result is arguably the best produced album so far this year.

Despite its lack of originality, “Meteora” is an exceptional album. It is obvious that LP has learned how to create dark and compelling moods, most apparent on the lead single “Somewhere I Belong” and the hypertension angst of “Hit the Floor.” “Meteora” opens into a juggernaut of an album, with lead singer Chester Bennington howling each note as if his very soul was being ripped apart. Bennington proves to be not only an amazing lead vocalist, but also the main artistic risk taker on the album.

Unfortunately for Linkin Park, there aren’t enough of these risks taken on “Meteora” to demonstrate overall artistic courage. “Easier to Run” is just an updated version of “Crawling.” “Numb” is “In the End” on steroids. While each of these tracks is expertly produced, no amount of gloss can cover up the lack of freshness. Credit Bennington for the albums most adventurous attempt, “Breaking the Habit,” an up and down psychological horror show that it tries as hard as it can to leave you in tears.

Missteps aside, “Meteora” has all the ingredients to be successful, even if some of its tracks sound more like remixes than revelations. Mike Shindoa is without a doubt the best rap-metal emcee, trumping the Fred Dursts of the world by leaps and bounds. LP even improves on its already excellent DJ work. The mostly sample and scratch melody of “Session” transcends its role as filler to be one of the most compelling tracks on the album, especially with the benefit of earphones.

“Meteora” isn’t going to win LP any friends among their detractors. The album is simply an extension of “Hybrid Theory.” However, with “Meteora” LP establishes themselves as a band that wants to give their public what they want, and “Meteora” should do just that. Say all you want about LP being derivative and doubt their ability all you like, but as Shindoa raps on the excellent “Nobody’s Listening,” “Peep the sound and the kids checkin’ for it/the number one question is how could you ignore it?” It is impossible to ignore LP’s ability to maintain its success, and it’s just as impossible to resist the rap-metal perfection of “Meteora.”

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