Review Summary: The Limp Bizkit alum delivers an impressive industrial debut.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Limp Bizkit, there is no denying that Wes Borland is a talented guitarist. While listening to Limp Bizkit’s first record, I found myself enjoying Wes’ guitar playing over anything else. Wes got a chance to flex his muscles in the debut for his side project Black Light Burns. Cruel Melody is an incredibly promising debut that combines industrial and electronic rock into an impressive thirteen song package. It may be a little flawed, but it’s still a fun, catchy, and energetic record overall.
The record’s sound is undeniably reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails. Tracks like Lie and The Mark could literally be taken right off a Nine Inch Nails record. Wes even sounds like Trent Reznor at many points on Cruel Melody. Despite sounding like their fellow industrial band, Black Light Burns manages to sustain their own identity through fantastic guitar work, vocal delivery, and even moments of soothing beauty. Wes’ guitar work doesn’t disappoint even in the slightest because most of his riffs are catchy and memorable. The infectious guitar riff at about the one minute mark in I Have a Need defines Wes’ skill as a musician and sets up the mood for the angst ridden chorus perfectly. The lyrics really bring to mind a serial killer’s need to terrorize his victims and his vocal delivery is fitting. Wes’ voice may not be particularly unique or mature, but his voice is perfect for the atmosphere of the record and the point he’s trying to make. His lyrics are extremely personal and really makes you wonder about what demons he had to deal with.
Most of the songs on Cruel Melody are incredibly catchy and stay in your head. The Mark is definitely the biggest example of how catchy the album can be. The way Wes delivers “so cut out the heart/and watch the world burn down/let’s tear it apart/let’s leave a mark!” is brilliant. However, these lyrics also reveal the record’s major flaw: the lyrics. Many of the lyrics are disappointingly inconsistent. They range from the fantastic lyrics of I Have A Need to the cringe worthy lyrics of Stop A Bullet. Despite the inconsistency, his lyrics rarely could be called poor. The music is the album’s savior from any inconsistency in his lyrics and Wes’ musical talent is best displayed in the final two tracks.
I Am Where It Takes Me is a beautiful song driven by an epic drum beat, soothing vocals, and fantastic ambiance. The ambiance provides an extra layer of texture to the song’s soaring atmosphere as somber guitars fill your ears throughout the song. After this beautiful song, we come to the hauntingly soothing Iodine Sky. While at the same time another display of Wes’ amazing work with ambiance, it’s also essentially a haunting lullaby completely devoid of lyrics. It may be repetitive, but that is also the beauty of it. Imagine walking through a post apocalyptic setting. You enter an abandoned banding looking for supplies. You open drawers and find nothing as the soothingly bleak piano and electronics play in the background. It really is the perfect soundtrack to a setting like this. What a way to end an album.
Any fans of Nine Inch Nails should definitely not pass this album up. It is a surprisingly consistent release for the Limp Bizkit alum. Once this album is done, you will want to jump right into Black Light Burn’s next release because of the sheer potential this album displayed. It’s an awesome industrial electronic rock album that still remains overlooked.