Now, the album itself...
A lot of this work reminds me of "Hybrid Theory," but in a more evolved way. My experience has been that as people "wake up" in their lives and evolve spiritually, their focus tends to turn inward, away from previous external sources of contention. This is very much the case with LiNkiN Park in "Meteora." Whereas the first album's focus was a very strong "DX YOU!!!" this one is more focused on the "Me... =/" A great deal of the band's confrontation and hostility has been replaced with a stringent, at times brutal sort of introspection. For instance, in the song "Easier to Run," there is the line "pretending I don't feel misplaced is so much simpler than change." These are the hardest things to admit to oneself, let alone to everyone who listens to your music. They still weren't a happy bunch of guys by this point in their career, but the first steps are being taken in the form of a growing self-awareness. There's even a hint of the next step in personal maturation, which involves focusing on the ideal situation. This can be heard in "Somewhere I Belong," "I want to heal. I want to feel like I'm close to something real. I want to find something I've wanted all along - somewhere I belong."
That being said, the contention is still there. "Tired of being what you want me to be." "Every step that I take is another mistake to you" ("Numb.") "It's like no matter what I do, I can't convince you for once just to hear me out." "You're gonna listen to me like it or not, right now!!" ("Faint.") Like anyone, their personal growth is taking place gradually. One doesn't just go from one stage to the next like turning-on a light-switch.
Sonically speaking, I've always been very pleased with this album. Things like the guitar harmonics in the beginning of "Easier to Run," which are clean and ambient, but still so crisp and raw. It's an almost spiritual experience. Making this even more enjoyable is the fact that the band still packs a real sonic punch. The complex but synchronous movement of heavy guitar chords with bass and pounding drum-hits make songs like "Hit the Floor" feel like actually hitting the floor (or the wall, or someone's fist, etc.) It's the kind of whallop you can't convey without well-practiced musical cohesion.
LiNkiN Park's dark, urban style is well-preserved here, and much of these compositions draws to mind thoughts of dingy alley-ways, brick walls and concrete interspersed with graffiti and trash that still can't manage to choke-out the soul of the city. There are sounds that remind me of various cultures, like the sharp but graceful woodwinds in "Nobody's Listening," a very Asian or Asian-American influence. That track also contains remixed audio from "High Voltage," the words "coming at you from every side" in the beginning. LP has always been one of those bands that likes to allude to their earlier work in the later stuff, while still writing obviously new materal. This reminds me of the way that aspects of one's personality may remain present, though each (perhaps) in a different way, as one grows.
Overall I give this album four out of five stars. Not everything here is "instant classic" material, but in my opinion, it's all worth having and represents a more mature personhood in the musicians involved and the collective-mind of the band itself.