My roommate was so excited when Meteora came out and I was just like “What are you talking about? You like Linkin Park? What are you, 12?” Or something like that. And I moved on and probably didn’t think about them much again until their singer died. Maybe it’s because I just endured a Limp Bizkit record but I am far more impressed by this album, their debut, than I ever imagined I would be when I sneered at my roommate for daring to like them 17 years ago.
First of all, the songs are catchy. This is something I did not really appreciate at the time but really explains why they were so damn successful, especially with, you know, the kinds of people who might not normally be into music this loud (girls). It’s instructive listening to other nu metal right around when you listen to this because it’s very, very clear that Linkin Park have the songs and a band like Limp Bizkit manifestly do not.
To go with those songs the aesthetic is definitely a titch poppier than some of their contemporaries – like this band is clearly more influenced by emo and post hardcore and even metalcore (and maybe other forms of alternative rock) than some of their contemporaries. The hip hop influence is here, sure, but it’s relatively muted compared to Limp Bizkit and the metal influences are a little muted (a little) compared to Korn. The result fits the very angsty lyrics and I can understand why this stuff so appeared to teenagers: the super teen-friendly lyrics are paired with enough of an edge to feel “heavy” or “edgy” to teens who don’t know better but also with enough hooks to get them into heavier music, something that most actual metal bands just do not do.
The product is fairly dated, if only because the sound of nu metal is not something that has endured 20 years later. And Bennington’s voice definitely contributes to this, as well. At some times he sounds like he should be singing ’90s pop punk. (Or, um, emo. Which is what he appears to think he’s singing.)
But, honestly, as nu metal goes, you could do so much worse, as evidenced by both the existence and bizarre popularity of Limp Bizkit, who are a worse band than Linkin Park by virtually any metric you can think of outside of, perhaps, rapping ability.
So yeah, maybe I’m overly kind to this record because I just listened to Limp Bizkit. But I get why the kids liked this at the time.