Review Summary: A journey even further into the psyche of Wes Borland
Throughout the past decade, especially in recent years, Wes Borland has proven himself to be one of the most eccentric and confusing artists in music. There is no doubt that he is a huge part of what makes Limp Bizkit who they are and is arguably the most talented member of the group, but I've nearly lost count of how many times he's bounced around between bands. His departure from the band in 2001, his brief rejoining and second departure in 2006, his venture into Black Light Burns, his brief joining with Marilyn Manson, and most recently his reunion with Limp Bizkit and the subsequent release of Gold Cobra
. I was a fan of Cruel Melody
, and I thought that Black Light Burns was an outlet for Borland to finally express himself truly as an artist. Sure, his vocal range is nothing to write home about, but having total creative control over the project gave him much more space to fully flourish in the songs as opposed to his nu-metal riffing that drives Limp Bizkit. With all of his recent ventures being far away from the project, I was wondering if he would ever return to it for a sophomore album.
So now that its been a few years, Borland has finally returned to Black Light Burns. Having worked on the album over the span of these few years, he took more time to make it sound a bit different than its predecessor. What you will notice is that the music has taken a more experimental route this time around. Cruel Melody
put a lot of emphasis on riffing that, while different from what Borland is normally up to, was still somewhat reminiscent of his work with Limp Bizkit. "I Have A Need" was even supposed to be a Bizkit track that Sam Rivers actually performed on but was canned by Durst. This time around, even more emphasis is put on the rhythm section as well. The bass is distorted and heavy and the drums sound ever so vital to the music. Borland brought in his touring band from the Cruel Melody
cycle (excluding drummer Joe Letz, who is the only new member) to record the album with him instead of having session members record the parts as he did on Cruel Melody
, and as a result everything feels much more cohesive and the band members feed off one another throughout the album.
This feeling is evident form the point the album starts to the moment it ends with the instrumental title track. Opener "How To Look Naked" is powered by the rhythm section as Borland rides the beat with his signature baritone vocals, and although the chorus brings down the song a bit it manages to hold its own as gears shift again on "We Light Up" with its fast tempo and almost punk rock feel. The aforementioned experimental side of the album begins to show its side towards the middle half of the record with tracks like "The Colour Escapes", which shows Borland giving his best Trent Reznor impersonation over a creeping bass line and middle eastern melodies. "Torch From The Sky" is another album highlight, with heavy vocal effects and an instrumental outro that has some of the best guitar melodies on the album.
Stepping out of his comfort zone as merely a guitarist and becoming a frontman as well is part of what makes Black Light Burns such an interesting project for Borland, and his vocal capabilities are beginning to improve. For the most part, he simply nails the verses in just about every track here, but its when he hits some of the choruses that he still needs improvement on. As mentioned before, the chorus of "How To Look Naked" is one of these moments along with the chorus of "Tiger By The Tail". Even lead single "Scream Hallelujah", which is driven by its heavy riffs and contains interesting instrumental sections, features a chorus that is downright annoying in its delivery. In these moments Borland sounds far too whiny as if he's trying desperately to inject energy into the song when it hits the chorus mark when things should flow a lot better into one another within the song. Luckily, though, this doesn't happen too often as most of the songs focus on more than just being heavy numbers with frenzied choruses. His lyrics, while still not the best, have improved since Cruel Melody
and don't have as many cringe-worthy moments.
All of this comes down to The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall
being a sophomore record that not only shows more of who Wes Borland is as an artist but also takes a different route than its predecessor. It shows a different side of Black Light Burns, one that doesn't focus as much on the heavy/industrial side of the bands sound but one that is more willing to branch out within the context of each song. Just about every track here has something that the previous one didn't, wether it be in vocal aspect or instrumental. The project might have a long way to go still before accomplishing something truly remarkable, but as it stands, Black Light Burns is still a great outlet for Wes Borland to further express himself as an artist outside of Limp Bizkit and something he should continue to pursue.