Linkin Park has returned to the forefront of mainstream rock with a collection of familiar tunes on its latest offering, Meteora (Warner). If you'd forgotten the corporate radio anthems "In the End" and "Crawling" from Linkin Park's debut, Hybrid Theory, the songs here will serve to remind you as they fall right in place with what the group's fans -- and record label -- expected.
Nearly four years ago, Linkin Park made a mediocre showing with the initial release of Hybrid Theory. Following a year on the street (and a retooling of the marketing agenda), the band's music finally hit mainstream radio with a vengeance. Then, after soaking their hit singles for all they were worth and touring incessantly, Linkin Park released a teaser (Reanimation) to keep fans interested and to somehow secure their relevance in the music industry. Unfortunately, this morsel was nothing more than a remixed redux of their debut.
Enter Meteora. This highly anticipated sophomore effort aspires to monument status on par with its namesake (a spectacular rock formation in Greece). However, it pales in comparison to the promise. It's a contrived and tired attempt to make the old sound fresh again. The band's signature "modulated synthesizer or heavily effected guitar intro giving way to simple guitar hook" technique runs rampant on the record. And the whole you/me lyrical pattern is done to death. Familiar themes continue with vocal tracks featuring Mike Shinoda's tough-guy rapper shtick broken up by Chester Bennington's screaming fits of lyrical rage (actually, Bennington's vocal cord-shredding is quite impressive). The band's forward thinker, DJ and turntableist Joe Hahn, contributes most of the original ideas here. His imaginative sampling -- he creates them out of his own sources instead of regurgitating someone else's stuff -- adds an inventive quality to the songs. Too bad the guitar tracks are standard issue with forgettable progressions and riffs. Meteora represents the further propagation of a strip-mined genre. In today's bottom line-driven music industry, the song remains the same.
The limited edition version comes complete with multimedia bonuses on the audio CD (allowing fans to delve into the band's personalities) and an entire DVD dedicated to the making of the album. There's also a full-color booklet that includes the band's song-specific notation and a 20-page booklet featuring numerous full-color photographs of a colossal painting done by German graffiti artist Delta (in collaboration with the band) during the Meteora recording sessions.