Thursday, July 12, 2012

Limp Bizkit  Gold Cobra (2011): 38%

As it turns out, you can accurately judge the content of an album by looking at its cover. Take Metallica’s self titled effort released in 1991 as an example: it is plain enough not to be a distraction from the music, it is simple enough to be drawn by a grade schooler, and what images you do see (the Metallica logo looking like it was carved out of obsidian, and a coiled snake hissing and ready to strike) are representative of the kind of ferociousness you can expect to hear on the album. Twenty years later, critics like me are studying the cover to Limp Bizkit’s first album with the original line up in more than 10 years, and automatically assuming that the music is just as trashy, tacky and tasteless. Months before the album’s release, guitarist Wes Borland created a cover of his own that is more dignifying for an undignified album, but was swapped at the last minute for the cover we see today. Unfortunately, I’ve tried every which way I can think of to upload the images on this review so you can compare them for yourselves, but my patience has run thin, and to spend anymore effort on a review for a detestable album is nonsense. So I’ll leave you with a helpful tip: if you happen to come across an album cover that depicts three nearly nude women with lazy eyes and tongues flopped out of their mouths about ready to be devoured by an angry-looking cobra, and the words ‘Limp Bizkit’ are written in white-trash graffiti, then odds are you are holding a terrible album and you should put it back immediately.

According to frontman Fred Durst, the cover was supposed to convey a good old-fashioned cult horror movie vibe. But this is actually more useful for the introduction, “Introbra,” which is a bad pun. Don’t try to argue otherwise. As the intro halts, that’s when something more awful happens: just like the middle-aged chaperone at the prom dance, Durst tries desperately to prove he can connect to a new generation of angst-ridden teenagers just like the ones they targeted over 10 years ago in their bygone days of doing it all for the Nookie. In a rap that would embarrass any respectable rapper, Durst spits rhymes in “Bring It Back,” like he’s trying to out-Eminem Eminem, while at the same time employing a nasal tone that makes him sound like the white bastard cousin of Lil Wayne. And gee, how convenient is it for Limp Bizkit to join the Cash Money family?

Amazingly, not only does Gold Cobra fail to connect to a new audience, it also fails to satisfy their older audience, who have moved on to minimum wage jobs, wives, kids, houses and mortgages (or perhaps second mortgages on tin shacks). Which sucks for Limp Bizkit seeing as though they would pretty much have to rely on their older audience if they can expect to sell any units of their newest offering.

I’ll confess though that about 10 years ago, I too was a fan of Limp Bizkit. Even then, I never really cared about what Durst had to say, but in my naïve tastes, it suited my craving for riot-baiting heavy metal. But I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a fan of their older works because I still do find value in them, and I do get overly sentimental when I flashback to the times where I listened to the cassette tapes I made from borrowing the library’s copy of the albums. Getting Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water for Christmas was a highlight gift and evenly ranked me with the neighborhood ‘cool’ kid. My interest in them did not wane even after I bought their remix album New Old Songs a year later. However, it did short out after trying to get into 2003’s Results May Vary and finding that I only liked about 5 of the 16 tracks. Some years later I was surprised to see a copy of The Unquestionable Truth Part 1, mostly because I hadn’t even known that Limp Bizkit put out another album. I wouldn’t get around to listening to it for another couple of years, but when I did, I immediately proclaimed it to be my favorite LB release for two reasons: Wes Borland was back in the game after leaving in 2001, and the band was at their most aggressive sounding since 1997’s Three Dollar Bill Ya’ll. At the time, I knew that Limp Bizkit had long since disbanded, so I took this as their last testament before the turnover of pop culture buried them in the recesses of our subconscious. The final seconds of the album have Borland’s guitar sizzling and screaming before the embrace of death causes it to fade away. It was a dignified end to a band that, for years, had endured mockery by tabloids and other musicians alike.

For Limp Bizkit to reunite and release Gold Cobra pretty much pisses on what dignity they had when they broke apart in 2005. Each and every song is a testament to why Limp Bizkit was hated in the first place. Their craftsmanship as half-assed musicians makes the train wreck of Results May Vary confident sounding. While Durst has always had lyrical themes that contradict each other, never before has this been so apparent. He spends the first half of his album inflating his massive ego with boasts that hardly make sense, only to deflate it insincerely in the latter half with the “woe is me” feelings he conjures on “Loser.” This echoes back to how he tries to portray himself as an imperfect everyman, but in the following tracks, boast about how rich he is and the sexy women he gets to bone on a nightly basis.

Somehow my naiveté allowed me to believe that Durst would be dissing the prevalent use of Auto-Tune we hear in most songs today in “AutoTuneage”, but no, he embraces the new technology with foolish abandon and hopes for the best. And really, that’s what Gold Cobra is all about: trying ideas they might know to be bad, and releasing them anyway.

I guess what discourages me most is how Borland stuck up for this album when ArtistDirect initially gave it just 1 star out of 5. Borland responded by saying something along the lines of, “I could see you giving it one star if you were expecting Ok Computer, but as far as LB records go, it is perfect.” Truth is, as much as Borland tries like hell to use his great guitar abilities to overshadow Durst’s atrocities, the album still does not suit his talents sufficiently. In all honesty, the rest of the band tries to rock out and start riots like their former, younger selves, but while the effort is appreciated, it still is not enough to save the quality from Fred fucking Durst.

For good, ill, or the money, the band does what it can to cope with the current situation. But what Limp Bizkit fails to understand is that the reason why their mentors, Korn, never disbanded and continue to put out albums is because they were willing to try something new at nearly every turn with new people. Not many bands these days have the courage or audacity to release a dubstep album, but Korn threw caution to the wind and did it anyway. With every Limp Bizkit release, we can only expect a worse version of what they already have accomplished. However, given how long their past releases were, Gold Cobra could do much worse with length. Sure, some of the songs drag in the middle, but it still ends at the 45 minute mark, which is just long enough to relish the LB reunion, and short enough to where you can appreciate that the band at least had enough common sense to shut up when they’ve overstayed their welcome. At least they tried to imitate a cobra’s venomous qualities, rather than how lengthy those creatures can be. This is saying something considering they had 20 total songs to release in various deluxe/foreign exclusive packages. Which prompts an interesting Catch-22: those hardcore fans (kinda like me) who go all-out and buy the deluxe package will probably listen to it once then never again, and those who recollect LB from their frat days will buy the standard package only to find that they probably won’t like that either. So really, the only thing to do with this cobra is to leave it the hell alone and let it slither to the bargain bin of your local Wally World Mart.

Lyrics: 3/10
Length: 5/10
Music: 5/10
Significance: 4/10
Meaning: 3/10
Overall Impression: 4/10 

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