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Meteora [Bonus DVD] ()

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Perhaps if the cut-'n'-paste remix record Reanimation hadn't appeared as a stopgap measure in the summer of 2002, Linkin Park's second record, Meteora, would merely have been seen as a continuation of their 2000 debut, Hybrid Theory, instead of a retreat to familiar ground. Then again, Reanimation wasn't much more than a way to buy time (along with maybe a little credibility), so it's unfair to say that its dabbling in electronica and hip-hop truly pointed toward a new direction for the group, but it did provide a more interesting listening experience than Meteora, which is nothing more and nothing less than a Hybrid Theory part two. Which isn't to say that Linkin Park didn't put any effort into the record, since it does demonstrate that the group stand apart from the pack by having the foresight to smash all nu-metal trademarks -- buzzing guitars, lumbering rhythms, angsty screaming, buried scratching, rapped verses -- into one accessible sound which suggests hooks instead of offering them. More importantly, the group has discipline and editing skills, keeping this record at a tight 36-minutes-and-41-seconds, a move that makes it considerably more listenable than its peers and, by extension, more powerful, since they know where to focus their energy, something that many nu-metal bands simply do not. (It must be said that there will surely be consumers out there that will question paying a $19.99 retail for a 36-minute-and-41-second record, though some may prefer getting a tight, listenable record at that price instead of a meandering 70-minute mess.) So, it must be said that Meteora does deliver on the most basic level -- it gives fans what they want, and it does so with energy and without fuss. It's also without surprises, either, which again gives the album a static feeling -- suggesting not a holding pattern for the band, but rather the limits of their chosen genre, which remains so stylistically rigid and formulaic that even with a band who follows the blueprint well, like Linkin Park, it winds up sounding a little samey and insular. Since Meteora is only their second go-round, this is hardly a fatal flaw, but the similarity of Meteora to Hybrid Theory does not only raise the question of where do they go from here, but whether there is a place for them to go at all. [This version of the album includes a DVD of bonus material.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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