Limp Bizkit – Gold Cobra (2011)

Posted: June 20, 2011 in Music

There hasn’t been very many bands in my lifetime that have completely split the music masses down the middle quite like Limp Bizkit. When they burst onto the scene in 1997 with 3 Dollar Bill, Y’All, they brought with them a new style and sound that the music scene hadn’t ever heard before. Mashing together the heaviness of metal guitars, blasting drum beats, and rap lyrics – rap metal was born.

While many credit the genre to Kid Rock, or 311, or that unforgettable “Walk This Way” mix between Aerosmith and Run DMC, for me, it was Limp Bizkit that brought the sound to the masses with an infectious groove and legitimate style that paved the way for (Hed)PE, P.O.D., and – more recently – Hollywood Undead.

So why the rift amongst music fans? Well, the reasons vary, but for me it came down to two things. The first being that metal purists just flat-out didn’t want some baggy-pants wearin’, ball-cap stylin’, hood representin’, rap lyric rhymin’ white boy fucking with their metal. The second reason that had a little more validity and a lot more exposure was that frontman Fred Durst was an asshole. Fred had the opportunity to make a statement, and his statement was basically love him, or fuck off. It was a type of arrogance not seen since David Lee Roth, or even earlier with the Beatles prior to them breaking up, but Fred laid it on thicker and angrier than anyone before him. He put his attitude right in your face, and you were either down with it, or hated the guy for being such a prick.

For me, I was one of the very few in the middle. I liked Limp Bizkit’s sound, but thought the pompous style of Durst was just a show, and another way to sell records. As time wore on through the band’s career, it became obvious that Durst – regardless of authenticity or intent – was making enemies left and right. Public feuds with Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots) and Scott Stapp (Creed), as well as countless rants at concerts and during interviews only added fuel to the fire. But Durst, and his attitude, persevered through five Limp Bizkit albums and 15 years of doing things “his way.”

In fact, you would think a band with such a firecracker of a frontman would have a mile-long list of departed members and fights within, but the only hiccup in the Limp Bizkit legacy has been the brief departures of guitarist Wes Borland (from 2002-2004, and again from 2006-2009), but even that seems to be ancient history.

The band’s latest effort Gold Cobra has been a bit of an enigma in and of itself. The on-again, off-again return has been as puzzling as Durst himself the last few years. Staying relatively reserved, Fred has surfaced a few times to announce the “soon to be released” album and dropping a song or two on the band’s MySpace page – but for an album that was anticipated over a year ago, Durst has managed to keep the hype going through all the delays and release date modifications. Well, all speculation and doubt comes to an end June 28th, as the band will – finally – be releasing the album.

But history means little. As with many of our other reviews, all we really care about is if the modern-day version of Durst and Company are still “rollin'” and breakin’ stuff, or if they – like many of their rap metal brethren – should have just stayed gone.

After a convoluted, eerie intro (which features KISS legend Gene Simmons reciting radio-broadcast type prose deep in the background), the band kicks off the onslaught with “Bring It Back,” a double-edged sword that not only mixes the genres of rap and metal, but basically passes back and forth between the two in intervals in a song that is really two. The shifting beats between the pair is effective and strong. Definitely a great kick off.

The title track “Gold Cobra” showcases the talents of newly-returned Borland and bassist Sam Rivers, but doesn’t leave drummer John Otto or mixmaster DJ Lethal too far behind. It’s not Durst’s strongest track lyrically, but the rest of the band is coming at you like a pack of hungry wolves. But has Fred lost a step? So far he’s been adequate, but it feels like a calmer, gentler soul on display.

“Shark Attack” answers that question immediately – as this track shows Fred is still sharp as ever and sniffing blood. As a “told you so” to the record industry, Durst throws down a flow just as tight as back in the early days. The layers of instruments on top of it makes it one of the album’s stronger tracks – and leaves no doubt that the Bizkit is back!

A little higher pitch influxes Durst in “Get A Life,” the albums fifth track. The shift adds a nice freshness to a bass-driven anthem, and quickly gives way to a riotous rant from Durst – finally calling out the haters. In an energetic attempt to prove them all wrong, the band succeeds in just that, bringing forth everything good you remember the band for. “The Polar Bear”, as Durst refers to himself, is on his flow and speaks of the band’s resiliency with the line “I ain’t going out like that Dancing With The Stars shit.” The instrumentals on this track were as strong as ever, even with Durst owning the track with both his rhyme and his singing parts. A fade out with what sounded like German sex-talk between a man and a woman only add to the tracks complexity, which stands out so far as the best of the bunch.

“Shotgun” which saw a release as a single about a month back, lends itself to a little self-reflection by Durst. Hidden deep inside the tough guy crunch and lyrics is a calmer Fred, lamenting with a slower pace and a bit more intent on the message. The guitar is poppy and tricky, and the bass embeds itself deep into the groove – but Durst is smart here, and gets his message across loud and clear. If the listener doesn’t get it, they are still treated to an interesting beat created at the end of the track of nothing more than DJ Lethal’s scratch over a click-click boom created solely of the firing and reloading of a shotgun. A nice twist to finish an excellent track.

It took a while before we got the “One for the money, two for the show” intro the band is famous for, but “Douche Bag” gives it to us in full Bizkit fashion. In fact, this is the most neck-snapping track the album offers – and it’s done the way that only Limp Bizkit can do it. It makes you turn your hat around and do your best Durst impression. You can’t help it – it’s like a disease. Another “fuck you” to the labels and scene, it’s heavy on the f-bomb, and while the chorus flirts with repetitiveness, it still seems to work. Even the singing parts seem to rip through you. A tough kick in the balls from the band that – arguably – started it all.

The next two tracks, “Walking Away” and “Loser” almost feel like complimentary tracks. The first carries a softer vibe, not unlike the band’s stylings in their hit “Behind Blue Eyes,” and tells the tale of the need to escape a bad relationship by any means necessary and the difficulties encountered in doing so, while the latter has Durst taking the blame in the long run with messages of fault and humility. Where “Loser” really stands out, however, is the great singing of Durst. When not throwing down the freshest flow we’ve seen on the album, Fred is belting out song with energy and pop prowess that reminds the listener of Cake or Weezer more than Limp Bizkit. It’s easily the biggest style stretch on the album, but it’s perfect.

“Autotuned” jabs a bit at Kanye West (let’s just say unintentionally to avoid another controversy), by throwing digitally altered Durst vocals over a funky bassline. The lyrics are simple and without much message, until Durst hits the chorus in elder-statesman style, roaring “Imma keep a rockin’ and shockin’ the flow.” In fact, outside of a few solid Borlan riffs, I think the whole track was a bit of a parody of itself – which I’m sure was the intent.

Outside of the not very well-hidden shout out to Bevery Hills, “90.2.10” is the heaviest, sexiest party track on the album. Durst takes the opportunity to give all his bandmates verbal recognition here, as well as name-dropping Raekwon, Paul Wall, Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and the Playboy bunnies. I didn’t need proof that Bizkit was still relevant – the rest of the album already made that point – but if you have any doubt that Fred is rollin’ with the “in-crowd”, this track should put your mind to ease.

“Why Try” recaptures the magic that we heard last with “Nookie.” Lots of self-ingratiation, lots of blast beats, and a rap assault that is simple, tight, and mind-blowing. Even the fuzzy, swirling guitar is back. Durst’s ego returns to the pedestal, and he wants you to know that he’s still the fucking king. The fact is, despite the hiatus and all the delays and negative press, I’m convinced he still fucking is. Calling out MC’s has always been part of the game – and Fred puts himself right back into the battle with not only this track, but with the entire album.

“Killer On The Loose” closes out the album with a window-rattling bass line and a spicy guitar groove questioning our fears (or Durst’s) with a image of something that “was born pissed and ready to slice.” It’s the killer inside us – the energy that is powerful and strong – and ready to pounce the second we let it loose. Fred still has it inside of him, as does the rest of the band, and this record proves it.

I was ready to be disappointed with this release, and instead was able to witness maybe the strongest album the band has ever released. Everyone is on the top of their game here, and should quickly get Limp Bizkit back on the tips of everyone’s tongue. If you read a bad review of this album, it’s either from a hater that insists on hating or from a magazine or label that has been trying for years to keep Fred Durst quiet. Either way, the strength of this album should quell all the negative attention and return the band to their well-deserved position as the monarchs of rap metal.

9.5/10

Tracklist:
01. Introbra
02. Bring It On
03. Gold Cobra
04. Shark Attack
05. Get A Life
06. Shotgun
07. Douche Bag
08. Walking Away
09. Loser
10. Autotunage
11. 90.2.10
12. Why Try
13. Killer In You

http://www.amazon.com/Gold-Cobra-Limp-Bizkit/dp/B0050LJIRK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308630031&sr=8-1

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