Linkin Park is rather infamous when it comes down to it. Their debut, Hybrid Theory
, is one of the biggest music phenomenon’s of the new century, and the follow up Meteora
also sold quite well. However, even with the debut, they were always criticized heavily for being generic and being atrocious musicians. Thus, with the release of Meteora
, such thoughts were only solidified.
The sound itself is a melting pot of…well, mediocre musicians trying to make hard rock/nu metal. The guitars are all down tuned, the drummer plays in pretty much the same time throughout the album, the bassist in virtually unnoticeable, and the DJ just randomly makes noises that don’t ever really add to the music. The absolute worst is when Link Park tries to get “heavy”; tracks like “Lying From You” and “Figure.09” are nearly indistinguishable from each other, as the sludge-y guitars and barely audible drums and bass just kind of meld into a cacophony of uninteresting noise.
The slight variants in these, where Link Park try and branch out from straight heavyness and include a hip hop element, fare little better. “Hit the Floor” features verses where MC Mike Shinoda takes vocals with a barebones instrumental beat, and fails to show any real value to his being in the band. The “crushing riff” and completely overpowers everything else in the song, and it’s so obviously electronic (the only song where the instruments were actually recorded for the album was “Breaking the Habit”) that it’s difficult to really get into it. “Nobody’s Listening” goes a tad bit farther, adding in a Japanese wind flute and big bass and reducing the guitar in the mix, but that’s the only new ideas they introduce for the whole song, and it falls into the same repetitive pratfall with the rest of the album.
Chester Bennington has the potential to be a good singer, but he just isn’t here. He’s so caught up with sounding emotional, tortured, and full of teenage angst, he seems to forget that it makes him sound exactly the same on every track. There’s very little to distinguish vocal performances in songs like “Faint” (he sings emotional and angsty here) and “Somewhere I Belong” (this time, he sounds emotional and pained
). That’s what I call variety. He does have the flashes of being a good singer, such as in “Easier to Run” and “Numb” where he throws in vocal performances that actually sounds like he isn’t forcing it. Unfortunately, said songs are also extremely generic musically, sounding incredibly similar to boot. So much for that.
And that’s the problem with the album. The songs all sound so similar. LP seems to have 3 songs variants, and they build their albums on these. A third of this album is crappy, generic, and soulless nu-metal with terrible rapping and mediocre singing, with trademark inane noises from DJ Hahn. Then, there are some songs where LP gets personal, but with the music being so dull and uninspiring, you never really connect with it. Then, there are the “experimental” songs. Most often, these songs fall flat on their faces; “Nobody’s Listening” for said reasons and “Session” for being a neat, but ultimately pointless and boring electronic interlude from DJ Hahn. “Breaking the Habit” is a genuinely good song. Not great, but good; DJ Hahn creates an excellent dark atmosphere for the album, and the guitar riff is actually played live and fit’s the song perfectly. While by its end it becomes a bit tiring, it’s nice to hear a slight industrial edge to Linkin Park’s music, which they should undoubtedly follow through on in later work.
Thus, as a whole, Meteora
is kind of terrible. It so much isn’t an abundance of suck as there is a complete absence of decent; there’s almost no redeeming factor to the album. Even disregarding the fact that it seems like a bunch of b-sides and such for Hybrid Theory
generally just sounds uninspired and pointless. The punchless instrumental work, the self-indulgent and ultimately pointless contributions by DJ Hahn, and the terrible rapping skills of Shinoda at the time all drag this down considerably, and the albums brightest facet (Bennington’s voice) is average at best. They couldn’t have made a worse album without actively pursuing such a goal, and in the end Meteora
is a tepid and dreadful experience through what can only be described as the definition of a “sophomore slump.”