For an act that sold eight million copies of its full-length debut, Linkin Park may be the ultimate nu-metal singles band. During its short career, the California group has mastered the genre's prototypical three-minute hit, which hits predictable signposts (bludgeoning guitar bursts, vein-bursting angst, snatches of hip-hop flava, a tried-and-true mixture of screaming, rapping, and singing mournfully) with brutal, Grammy-winning efficiency. Hybrid Theory's title hinted at that emphasis on formula, and the new Meteora etches it in stone, rushing through a brisk assortment of ham-fistedly fist-pumping variations on the aforementioned boilerplate. Naturally, Linkin Park's subject matter never strays from the old nu-metal song-and-dance of alienation and self-flagellation, albeit in a manner restrained enough to keep the language clean and make room for a few TRL-friendly hip-hop/metal power ballads ("Easier To Run," "From The Inside"). Like its predecessor, Meteora lets its brief, filler-free run time court some goodwill, leaving the pompous dirges for the more messianic likes of Creed. And Linkin Park never got enough credit for last year's remix album Reanimation, which transcended its cash-in nature by not only radically reworking its songs, but also generating royalty checks for under-exposed guests Zion I and Aceyalone. But a general air of inoffensiveness and past good intentions only go so far. Mercifully brief but mercilessly repetitive, Meteora is little more than a tolerable rehash of a formula that's been on the wrong side of its sell-by date for some time now.
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