Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Black Light Burns - Cruel Melody CD Review

Let’s face it, we all listened to Limp Bizkit back in their heyday. You couldn’t avoid them. Looking back, 99% of us now realize what a mistake it was for anyone to have ever signed that band to a record contract. The one bright spot in the band, however, was Wes Borland. He was a guitarist who seemed to have some decent chops, but was stuck in a band that wouldn’t let him really flex his muscle, so when Borland moved on from Bizkit-land, he really went out on a limb with his first solo project Big Dumb Face, which dabbled in genres from all over the map. Considering how all over BDF was, Borland again didn't seem to be finding a realm to call his own. Later, he tried to give Limp Bizkit another chance, which didn’t work out (who didn't see that coming), and then tried a stint at playing guitar with the nearly talentless From First to Last. He simply couldn't seem to find a place to fit in, and he has now again tried to come into his own with Black Light Burns. Unlike his past endeavors, this time he seems to have found a focus for his talents and a band to feel at home in.

Black Light Burns, basically, sound like a mix of early Nine Inch Nails styled industrial, Marilyn Manson, and a strong focus on guitars. It would seem that this mix surfaced from the combination of Borland (the rock oriented member of the group) and bandmates Danny Lohner and Josh Freese (both previously being involved with both Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle). This mix, for the most part, actually works, whereas some other bands who have tried their hands at it (Filter or Ungod era Stabbing Westward) have not been able to mesh the two together seamlessly.

The album has a very unfortunate start by putting the worst track of the album out front. “Mesopotamia” would be hard pressed to even make it on to a b-sides of b-sides Marilyn Manson album. It’s repetitive, lacks maturity, and doesn’t show the band really doing what they do best — alternating between the electronically subdued and the progressively guitar heavy sounds they create. “Animal”, the next track, shows the band putting a little more thought into what they’re doing, but still seems a lot like an update of something Trent Reznor would have written for Petty Hate Machine.

It’s not until you get into the middle of the album that it really starts a true flow, with some extremely mellow passages to offset and accentuate the heavier moments. Throughout songs such as “Cruel Melody”, “The Mark”, and “Stop a Bullet”, it feels more like an actual group effort instead of seeming like the band was writing around Borland’s guitar lines. The final three tracks of the album see the entire group pulling back from the aggressive side of things to put together about 20 minutes of ambient, down-tempo, and depression inducing sounds, which is the complete opposite end of the spectrum that the album started on. This change over the course of the album showcases the range of the band and what they are capable of creating.

This isn’t the same Wes Borland that was miscast as a member of Limp Bizkit and his other endeavors. This is Borland surrounded by competent and talented musicians who are able to bring just as much to the table. Industrial is a genre that isn’t often tackled today, especially guitar oriented industrial, but Black Light Burns jumped right in, surprising us all with a very solid debut in Cruel Melody.

No comments: