Linkin Park Expand Meteora's Musical Horizons ... In 40 Minutes Or Less

Album's first single, 'Somewhere I Belong,' currently getting strong airplay.

Linkin Park's debut album, Hybrid Theory, was the top-selling album of 2001, yet the rap-metal group never reached #1 on the Billboard albums chart. The group's second studio disc, Meteora, which comes out March 25, just might remedy that.

The record is one of the most eagerly awaited of the year, and its first single, "Somewhere I Belong," is already getting strong radio play. In a music climate where only two metal bands — Disturbed and Korn — scored platinum albums last year, Meteora could be just the prodding the tired genre needs to generate renewed audience interest (see "Will Korn, Papa Roach And Limp Bizkit Evolve Or Die?").

"We're definitely happy with it," drummer Rob Bourdon said in his typically understated fashion. "After finishing this record and listening back to it, we all just feel like it's a success already because we met our personal goals (see "Linkin Park Trying Not To Suck On Next LP"). We pushed ourselves and we feel like we made a really great record. And it's really out of our hands at this point, so we'll see what happens [with the public]."

Like Hybrid Theory, the songs on Meteora feature moody atmospherics, buzzing guitars and vocals that alternate between punchy rap verses and soaring melodic choruses. Many of the intros feature angular samples and experimental beats. "Breaking the Habit" includes a 10-piece string section conducted by Beck's dad, David Campbell. Throughout the disc, Mike Shinoda's rapping blends more fluidly with Chester Bennington's singing than ever.

"That's one of the ways we really show our musical maturity," Bourdon said. "From the very beginning in our old demos, you would really hear the rap verse and then the big rock chorus. On Hybrid Theory we were able to blend that better and I think that Meteora is the next step in making both of those styles combine more seamlessly.

"From being on the road so much, Mike and Chester performed a lot together and started to back each other up more and more on certain parts," he added, explaining the new cohesion. "Mike taught Chester a lot about hip-hop and Chester helped Mike with the singing stuff, so I think they learned a lot from each other."

Linkin Park wrote much of the music for Meteora in the summer of 2001 when they were on Ozzfest (see "Linkin Park Discuss Meteora, Plan Surreal Video"). By the time they entered the recording studio, they had 30 full songs, which they whittled down to the final 13 on the record. If fans have anything to complain about, it's the album's length, which clocks in at a scant 36 minutes.

"We wanted to make a record that you could pop into your CD player and from beginning to end, it would just hit you [and] there would never be a spot where you start daydreaming," Bourdon said. "In every song we really focused on capturing the listeners' attention by keeping every part of the song interesting."

Doing that required a lot of work. Shinoda and Bennigton frequently had to record between 30 and 40 vocal tracks before they were happy, and guitarist Brad Delson and bassist David "Phoenix" Farrell laid down rhythm after rhythm in their quest for perfection.

"It got kind of frustrating at times," admitted Bourdon. "But we're not the kind of band that gets crazy and breaks stuff in the studio. I think the most frustrated anyone got was when we were playing Xbox and I threw the controller on the ground. I mean, we're really motivated and we stay really focused and do whatever we need to do to get through."

Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution Tour dates, according to a Warner Bros. spokesperson:

  • 4/8 - Rochester, NY @ Blue Cross Arena

  • 4/9 - State College, PA @ Bryce Jordan Center

  • 4/11 - Evansville, IN @ Roberts Stadium

  • 4/12 - Memphis, TN @ The Pyramid

  • 4/13 - New Orleans, LA @ New Orleans Arena

  • 4/15 - El Paso, TX @ UTEP Don Haskins Center

  • 4/16 - Albuquerque, NM @ Tingley Coliseum

  • 4/18 - Phoenix, AZ @ America West Arena

  • 4/19 - Tucson, AZ @ Tucson Convention Center

  • 4/21 - West Valley, UT @ E Center

  • 4/22 - Nampa, ID @ Idaho Center

  • 4/23 - Spokane, WA @ Spokane Arena

  • 4/25 - Billings, MT @ MetraPark Arena

  • 4/26 - Rapid City, SD @ Rushmore Plaza

  • 4/28 - Council Bluffs, IA @ Mid-America Rec./Conv. Complex

  • 4/29 - Valley Center, KS @ Kansas Coliseum

  • 4/30 - North Little Rock, AR @ Alltel Arena