Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Angst Improves For Linkin Park On Meteora

The Good: Good lyrics, Interesting sound
The Bad: Vocals are not overly impressive, Even the deluxe version is short
The Basics: The deluxe version of Meteora shows some lyrical growth for Linkin Park over its debut album . . . though much of the rest of the band's sound is the same.

For the next two months, rather than picking a new Artist Of The Month each month, I am doing some projects that have me returning to prior Artists Of The Month. I'm starting this new retrospective with continuing last month's Artist Of The Month exploration (which is making my wife very happy) by beginning with Linkin Park's sophomore album, Meteora. For the review, we tracked down one of the many deluxe editions of Meteora.

Meteora shows some lyrical and thematic growth for Linkin Park from its debut to its second album. But, while the lyrics have gotten a bit deeper and the album has some recognizable hits - most notably "Numb" and "Somewhere I Belong" - most of the music on Meteora is still dominated by a chaotic mix of metal and rap. That said, there are some actual tunes on Meteora and a bit less screaming, which makes the album a bit easier to listen to than some of the other Linkin Park albums.

With sixteen tracks - fourteen songs, two live renditions of songs that appear on the album as studio cuts - clocking out at 45:53, Meteora is very much the work of Linkin Park. The bandmembers wrote all of the songs, they provide all the vocals and play their own instruments with only some additional strings for the few orchestral backing moments on the album. Linkin Park is credited as a co-producer of the album, as well, so it does appear like Meteora is exactly the album the band intended to release.

Musically, Meteora is very much what one expects from Linkin Park. For those who are unfamiliar with the band, Linkin Park produces heavy guitar-driven songs that blend the strong guitar/bass/drums combo with occasional keyboards. The instrumental accompaniment on most of the songs, on the guitar-based songs, use the instrumental accompaniment more to keep time than to deliver memorable tunes. The guitars are thrashing and help keep time, which compliments the raps and near-spoken word sections of songs.

Vocally, Linkin Park continues to illustrate that the lead singers were raised in a rap tradition, clearly influenced by the Beastie Boys. The lead vocalist, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda pass lines back and forth between them, most notably on "Hit The Floor." Bennington shouts through several songs and the screams play off the more smooth harmonies from Shinoda. The net result is that Linkin Park, on the guitar-driven tracks, produce songs that are more yelling and rapping. Songs that have more of a keyboard and bass presence, like "Easier To Run" create clear tunes and the vocals are carried in a very traditional melodic presentation. On Meteora almost all of the lines are actually performed with clear deliveries that make it very easy to understand every word.

On Meteora, Linkin Park is preoccupied with expressing emotions and singing about relationships. Linkin Park takes up the challenge of making some uncommon choices in themes to make a compelling series of poems, most notably on "Lying From You." Exploring the nature of honesty in relationships is not a common theme for music - save the lack of being able to trust cheaters, which is fairly common in music. Linkin Park manages to make the complicated exploration of honesty in relationships musical with lines like "When I pretend everything is what I want it to be / I look exactly like what you had always wanted to see / When I pretend, I can’t forget about the criminal I am / Stealing second after second just cause I know I can" ("Lying From You").

Angst is the clear emotion being expressed on the bulk of Meteora. Instead of just singing about abstract emotions, Linkin Park sings about relationships with a decent amount of insight. When the artists sing "Something has been taken from deep inside of me / The secret I've kept locked away no one can ever see / Wounds so deep they never show they never go away / Like moving pictures in my head for years and years they've played / (If I could change I would take back the pain I would) / (Retrace every wrong move that I made I would)" ("Easier To Run"), it is clear they understand the feelings of regret and loss.

While most of the lyrics on Meteora have a fairly fresh sound to them, Linkin Park still has some room to grow. Not all of their poetics are winners or are very original at all. With the occasional predictable rhyme scheme - "Too many times that I’ve held on when I needed to push away / Afraid to say what was on my mind afraid to say what I need to say / Too many things that you've said about me when I’m not around / You think having the upper hand means you gotta keep putting me down" ("Don't Stay") - Linkin Park's members show that while they have something to say, they are not breaking all conventions to make their thoughts comprehensible.

Ultimately, Meteora is a good album that is listenable and has something to say, but its hits stand out somewhat incongruously from the rest of the sound and feeling of the album. The result is an interesting album, but not one that is timeless or truly essential.

The intro song "Foreword" is a weird, pointless track; "Lying From You" is the superlative track on Meteora.

For other reviews of Linkin Park albums, please check out my reviews of:
Hybrid Theory (Deluxe)
Minutes To Midnight
The Hunting Party


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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