Home Read Classic Album Review: Linkin Park | Meteora

Classic Album Review: Linkin Park | Meteora

The rap-rock phenoms' second LP puts artistic goals second to commercial ones.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Remember that TV show Wings? It was on the air for, like, 10 years — yet I don’t know anyone who ever watched it.

For me, Linkin Park are the Wings of nü-metal. According to SoundScan, these California rap-rockers sold nearly eight million copies of their debut album Hybrid Theory — it was the best-selling album of 2001, in fact — but I honestly don’t know a single person who bought one. That’s no reflection on the band or the quality of their music. More likely, it’s because most of the people I know are old enough to drink legally and have outgrown backward baseball caps as a fashion statement. But whatever. Somebody bought all those CDs. And because they did, Linkin Park instantly morphed from just another faceless modern rock band into Very Important Artists — at least to their record company.

So, on their highly anticipated sophomore album Meteora, the band have been given a blank slate (and, apparently, a blank cheque) to do pretty much whatever they want. Except, of course, change their sound much. And in the tradition of being good corporate rockers — Ragers Inside the Machine, if you will — they’re apparently more than happy to comply.

Hence, Meteora is an album that seems to put artistic goals second to more mercenary ones like stroking the band’s ego, indulging their artistic pretensions and cashing in on their success. The enhanced CD — which comes with a 40-page colour booklet — houses documentary footage on the band, a video, screensavers and icons, merch offers, pitches for the band’s so-called “Underground” fan club, and even links to a Web toolkit so you can build your own Linkin Park fan site (and who wouldn’t want to do that?). Plus, initial pressings of the CD include a self-indulgent 35-minute DVD about how long and hard they toiled to make the 36-minute album. (That’s right, the DVD is nearly as long as the record — what does that say?)

And what of said album? Well, in a nutshell, it’s Hybrid Theory 2.0 — the same grindingly melodic guitars, the same hip-hop verses and bludgeoning metal choruses; the same whisper-to-a-wail vocals; the same subatomic bass depth charges; the same street-cred samples and loops and scratches. And all of it seems coldly, cunningly calculated to be as radio-friendly as possible — even the band admit they rewrote many of theses songs numerous times.

Too bad they didn’t aim for originality instead of reinvention. Then Meteora might have been more than just the disappointing, predictable followup it seems to be.