Monday, November 14, 2011

Music Album Review: Gold Cobra by Limp Bizkit

“Gold Cobra” is for the hardcore Bizkit faithful; it’s like they travelled back in time and remade their first album from scratch.
Gold Cobra is Limp Bizkit’s sixth major album release and their first in six years. The album was released back in June and marks the first album by the original Limp Bizkit line up in 11 years, when the band released their most successful album, “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water”. Before I go into the album review let me take you down memory lane.

Limp Bizkit were on top of the world when nu-metal and rap metal was at its peak, the turn of the decade. Alongside the Bizkit was Linkin Park, Papa Roach, POD and others and they all churned out hits and rock anthems that were very successful considering the genre they were associated with. None of these bands got a #1 hit, apart from Limp Bizkit, who got to #1 in both the UK and Ireland with the now classic track “Rollin’”. “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water”, the album the song was on, got to #1 in the album charts in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand, and has sold at least 12 million copies worldwide. As I said, Limp Bizkit was on top of the world. However, as the years progressed, nu-metal was dying a quick death and was often a mocked genre rather than one that was considered ‘cool’. In the ashes of nu-metal raised another genre of music, that of emo music, which dropped a lot of the rap vocals and started mixing punk with metal, alongside modern ballads about youth and young love. A lot of the nu-metal bands started incorporating these themes and musical changes into their music to stay relevant and successful, and some since have remained successful, Linkin Park especially, where as others have struggled to keep up with the changing times and transitions in teenage interest in music, and have been dropping into the obscurities of metal music.

Limp Bizkit struggled to keep up with the times. “Results May Vary”, while on paper was successful, getting to #1 in many countries and selling well, started to show cracks in the band. There were band members that came and left and came back again, there were problems on tour, the band got mocked a lot due to the waning popularity and Fred Durst, the lead singer, became a bit of a joke. The band released “The Unquestionable Truth Part 1” two years later, six years ago, which barely hit the major music radar in any way at all. Limp Bizkit then went on indefinite hiatus. Both albums after “Chocolate Starfish” showed glimpses of the band giving baby steps into the world of emo, but it was always unsuccessful and often criticised.

Four years later, it was officially announced that Limp Bizkit were getting back together, with the complete original lineup. They did a few short tours and festivals, most of them were well received. Being out of the spotlight and thrusting themselves back in it was a bold move but it was one that seems to be working, the band’s tours are doing well and there was a certain reminisce and quirkiness about people seeing the band live again. They decided to enter the studio again and that’s where we are now, with “Gold Cobra”.

The album’s beginning, “Introbra” does very little but start to prepare you for “Bring it Back”, a decent little track that does a great job of set you up for what’s to come on the rest of the album. The first thing you’ll notice is the great music; something that Limp Bizkit have often done is produce decent sounding metal with the help of Wes Borland who has always been a good guitarist. Fred Durst’s rapping vocals are as fierce and venomous as always; the profanity in this album is definitely cranked to 11. “Bring it Back” is a good song, but the confusing element of the track is that the verses and the chorus are on two different speeds and it feels like the song jigs from a low gear to a high gear too quickly. It’s still good and transcends nicely into “Gold Cobra”, the title track, which was later released as the second single off the album. “Gold Cobra” is definitely one of the best songs off the album, and it’s a nicely polished song in comparison to what else is on here. Fred Durst claims he wanted as much rawness and as little polish on the album as possible and “Gold Cobra” does go against that intention, but that’s a good thing in a way, sometimes the better songs on these albums are the tracks that can work with a broad audience. “Gold Cobra” is a better track than some of the songs released as singles in the latter part of Limp Bizkit’s career and it’s like a mellower “Eat You Alive”, to compare it to another single.

I mentioned it before, but I’d like to emphasise there’s a lot of swearing in this album. Now this isn’t new for Limp Bizkit, they’ve taken this approach in nearly every album they’ve produced, but it does take you aback slightly when you compare it to the music around today. Not only is there a lot of swearing but there’s a lot of scathing lyrics and threats in the album, once again, this isn’t new, it’s something Fred Durst has done many times before. The reason I’m mentioning this is because it’s very reminiscent of the anger and malice Fred showed back in the late nineties when he was an immature man in his mid-twenties. Now that Fred Durst has hit his forties it’s a little surprising to see him using the language and lyrics he uses; the man is over twenty five years past his adolescence. But in a certain way it’s once again very reminiscent of the old Limp Bizkit that got them popular way back in the nineties.

There are two songs that come to mind when it comes to this type of lyrical content, the first is “Get a Life”, one of the hardest hitting songs on the album, where Durst screams “Get a life, get a motherfucking life, you don’t want to see what I can do with a knife!”. It’s a little tragic but there’s a certain aggression that sound good in the lyrics, it does bring me right back to when I started listening to the band a good ten years ago. The song, the lyrics aside, is actually quite good, and the lyrics are fine and unsurprising even, if you’ve listened to Limp Bizkit properly before. The other song is “Douche Bag”, a song that Fred Durst claimed he wanted released as the first single but for reasons more likely politics related rather than a change of heart, it was then pulled from single release. “Douche Bag” has a similar chorus, one that has “I’m a fuck you up, fuck you fuck you fuck you up” as it’s hook. It’s immature, it’s childish, it’s ‘naughty!’, but it’s really catchy at the same time. I can’t help but like these two songs I have to admit, but if you’ve not heard much Limp Bizkit, this type of lyrical content might come as a surprise, not many bands do this nowadays where it was a lot more commonplace in the early part of the last decade.

The first single was actually “Shotgun” in the end, and this is a slightly more raw track in comparison to “Gold Cobra”, but it’s nothing on the two songs above. “Shotgun”, a song that mixes in that threatening lyrical content of the use of a shotgun, and the neighbourhood having them, is quite a cool song. The song barely charted, actually, none of these Limp Bizkit singles have sold particularly well which is a shame, as the songs are nearly as good as the stuff that was released by the band in the early part of their career. I definitely like the ‘shotgun’ sample used later on in the track to work as a beat; the song is one of the best on the album.

My favourite track though, is “Walking Away”. Limp Bizkit usually have one or two of these songs on their albums where Fred Durst sings rather than raps or shouts. This is one of the best pieces of singing Fred’s done in his entire career, and the song really stands out in an album full of frenzied aggression. That being said, the song then twists into an angry output towards the end, and once again, it makes the song stand out even more.  Hearing the relatively nice singing clashing with the fierce screams in the same track work very well here. After “Walking Away” is another one of softer songs, a song called “Loser” which deals with either the difficult relationship with a loved one, or the end result of an old relationship. It’s one of the more mature tracks on the album, especially in comparison to what’s available on here, and deals with Durst contemplating what he had done and how he feels about what happened.

All in all “Gold Cobra” is a good album, not great, but good. There’s nothing really outstanding on here, but the album is consistent in its ability to be an album with good metal, decent rap vocals, lots of aggression and lots of nostalgia. This isn't Limp Bizkit trying to fit into the new 'emo' genre. In the end this is Limp Bizkit doing what got them their fame in the first place, rocking hard, rapping harder, swearing lots and sticking middle fingers up at anything and everything. If you liked Limp Bizkit’s old stuff, seriously, give this a listen, it’s like Limp Bizkit travelled back in time and remade their first album from scratch. If you don’t like Limp Bizkit, quite simply, this isn’t for you, and I wouldn’t even recommend this album if you like some of their material, it’s purely an immature indulgence for the hardcore faithful, and no one else. If you’re in the Limp Bizkit party, enjoy it motherfucker, if not, keep away because you’re not invited.

Rating: ***1/2 stars
Stand out tracks: Walking Away, Gold Cobra, Loser

Here's the video for the second single, "Gold Cobra":

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1 comment:

  1. The last spawn of the grunge era turned alternative rock idols, soon forsaken to the oblivion most veteran bands eventually face. Foo Fighters have shed all adornment in what is simply their second best record to date. Their "back to basics" approach has paid with fans and critics alike, and for every good reason.