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Good day denizens of Sputnik and welcome to today’s edition of the Doctor’s diagnosis series, where I take on a band or artist’s studio recordings and formulate a comprehensive diagnosis by looking at the artist in question’s simmering highs and disappointing lows. On this eighth instalment, I will be putting on my latex gloves and analysing the mighty Riff Lord Wes Borland and his seminal project, Black Light Burns – a scintillating artistic affirmation that has only spawned three records and a compilation album hitherto, but has left a lasting resonance. So, join me while I grab my stethoscope and go over the Black Light Burns catalogue.

Band/Artist: Black Light Burns

Origins: Los Angeles, California, USA

Founded: 2005

Current Members:

Wes Borland – lead vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, programming (2005-Present)

Previous members:

Nick Annis – guitar, Backing vocals (2005–2013)

Danny Lohner – guitar, programming, sound design, producer (2005–2007)

Josh Eustis – synths, sound design, engineering (2005–2007)

Josh Freese – drums, live percussion (2005–2007)

Sean Fetterman – bass (2007–2008)

Marshall Kilpatric – drums, percussion (2007–2011)

Dennis Sanders – bass, backup vocals (2008–2013)

Dylan Taylor – drums (2012–2013)

Studio albums: 3

Active: Hiatus (?)

Cruel Melody (2007)


The Doctor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Analysis: Though Wes has always been known for his proficiency on the guitar, delivering an ungodly number of iconic riffs in Limp Bizkit, at the time people weren’t able to fully appreciate his talents as a wholesale songwriter and singer until Black Light Burns came into being. Cruel Melody really is the ideal debut album for any artist; it sets the groundwork for grander ideas in the future and it immediately commands your attention from the moment it starts, stamping its impressions on the listener and showing you Wes really mean business here. Essentially, Cruel Melody is an industrial/alt-rock album, but its pithy execution, hook-focused melodies and sharp simile/metaphor lyric writing make it a fantastic introduction for the band starting out, and indeed, the easiest way to check out what BLB is all about. Testament to Wes’ talents, Cruel Melody is brimming with cover-to-cover bangers – big, groovy riffs and charismatic drum work, a meaty and malleable production that caters to the mood of the song, and an unwaveringly impressive cohesion that’s served to you so goddamn accessibly. Given that this thirteen-track peregrination sits at just over one hour, it’s remarkable how digestible it all is, but no surprise considering the album’s penchant for variety is its greatest asset. “Mesopotamia”’s eccentric flair reveals a hint of the experimentation we’ll come to enjoy on the sophomore album, “Animal”’s seductive grooves and big, infectious choruses make it a radio-worthy hit, “Coward” is quintessential Borland riffing under Wes’ great vocal work, and the likes of “New Hunger” and Iodine Sky” explore a poignant ambience that will be expanded upon later in BLB and indeed, extending itself to his solo works. Overall, Cruel Melody is a barnstorming debut album that immediately knows what it wants to sound like, and the execution is frankly second to none.

Prescription: A trailblazing debut record that masterfully puts alt-rock riffs and industrial at the forefront to give it a steadfast identity, while injecting the record with Borland’s signature colours and flavours.  Listen to it 4-5 times a day for a week, then play it as necessary.

The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall (2012)


The Doctor’s Rating: 5/5

Analysis: The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall is not only Black Light Burns’ greatest achievement, it’s almost inarguably Borland’s finest work to date; a masterclass in every regard. Five years removed from Cruel Melody, The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall sets out on a much more ambitious and visceral journey. It’s hard to fully articulate the special quality this record has or the rich vibes it emits, but they come from an incredibly earnest place – it’s the kind of raw emotion that comes from coping with tribulations and searching deep down into the pit of your stomach to extract those issues and convert them into something constructive, and thus cannot be replicated by anyone trying to do so. Genuinely, The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall can be exhausting to sit through, and I feel this was intentional – a way for us to reciprocate to the fact Wes literally poured every ounce of his creative energy into this thing. If there was a criticism to give Cruel Melody, it’s that it sounds a little cut and dry: it’s all sublimely executed of course, but it doesn’t take any particularly daring risks. On here however, the blueprint for Cruel Melody is used, but it takes an almost sadistic pleasure in warping and bending the listener-friendly disposition of the former using Wes’ signature flair and charisma.

At its core, underneath all of those stonking fuzzed-out, crunchy alt-rock grooves and ferocious drums, the exotic arsenal of instruments, and the excellent Mr. Bungle-tinged vocal performances and gripping arrangements, there lies an unfettered anguish that is prevalent throughout – a feral madness that feels genuine and raw, as though Wes looked into the blackened void and caught a glimpse of unspeakable Lovecraftian horrors. Indeed, the duality to a lot of these tunes is expertly pieced together: the likes of “Tiger by the Tail”, “I Want You”, “Splayed” and “Scream Hallelujah” all have that ostentatious entertaining fun-factor to them, but like Lynch ingeniously shows the viewer in Blue Velvet; when you look beyond the white picket fence, there’s more here than meets the eye, and in this case, it’s a man challenging his demons and channelling that negative energy directly into something worthwhile. I could wax lyrical all day about how fantastic, unique, and influential sounding The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall is, but suffice to say it’s one hell of a record. As I touched on before, the arrangements and interweaving of disparate styles and emotional hues is reason alone to check this out. As a big fan of Wes and almost all of his contributions to the big music machine, it’s a weighty statement to say this is his best work, and yet, here I am saying it. There’s something metaphysical to The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall that calls to me, but just the way Wes emotes and crafts this album makes it one of my all-time favourite records, and shouldn’t be written off by anybody until they’ve experienced the journey.

Prescription: Essential listening for any music enthusiast looking for something a bit different. It’s feral, hard-hitting and has a long-lasting effect on you after you’ve heard it. A repeat subscription: listen to it 4-5 times a day for a week, then play it as necessary.

Lotus Island (2013)


The Doctor’s Rating: 4.5/5

Analysis: Wasting absolutely no time at all, BLB releases their third album just one year after the exceptional The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall. This time however, the band almost entirely strip away their abrasive alt-rock sound in favour of doubling down on their experimental proclivities. The result is a haunting soundtrack-esque experience, one which was designed as a re-interpretated alternative score to the 1973 movie, The Holy Mountain. For those yearning for the more conventional Black Light Burns sound, you’ll only find solace in songs “It’s Good to Be Gold”, “The Hate of My Life”, “It Rapes All in Its Path (Recall)” and “My Love is Coming for You”, and even then, the full-throttle trajectory of previous entries is significantly toned down here. The aforementioned tracks reside in the mid-tempo range and stylistically sit in accordance with the instrumental tracks they are married to on Lotus Island. On the whole, this is a pretty vast departure from what has been presented thus far, but nevertheless, considering Borland’s distinct, ethereal guitar sounds display a tapestry aching to be on an ambient/instrumental album anyway – and given the nous and talent behind the man himself – the execution on Lotus Island is excellent. Its concise song lengths and pithy run-time make for a digestible listening experience as well. It’s not exactly the most conventional or ideal way of ending a band’s recorded output, but regardless of that, this is a great little record with creepy soundscapes, strong rock band-led tracks, and an interesting take on ambient/scoring that ultimately foreshadows Borland’s superb solo debut album, Crystal Machete.

Prescription: An unconventional album from an unpredictable band. It’s another high-quality release from Black Light Burns, however, I wouldn’t recommend listening to this one first if you’ve never listened to the band before. After exploring the other two albums, listen to this 4-5 times a day for a week, then play it as necessary.



Cover Your Heart and the Anvil Pants Odyssey (2008) After making a really solid and traditional sounding industrial/alt-rock album for the band’s debut, with a lean on Borland’s distinct traits, it’s a bit of a surprise for Black Light Burns to come off the high from that record only to make a capricious move to release a cover album. That being said, this raw powerhouse of covers certainly pushes Wes’ vocals outside of his comfort zone and delivers some really great performances. From Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” and The Stooges “Search & Destroy”, to the excellent The Jesus Lizard “The Art of Self Defense” and Sisters of Mercy’s “Lucretia My Reflection” renditions, there’s a varied selection of classic songs being taken on by the band that shows an obvious reverence for the original work while layering the BLB lens over it. At the time, I wasn’t too fond of this compilation, but as the years have gone on I’ve really warmed up to this release. Plus the documentary that comes with the physical version of this is fantastic. Well worth checking out.

      Doctor’s Notes:


  • Out of the gate, Black Light Burns immediately has its own recognisable sound.
  • The band have always towed the delicate line between experimentation and accessibility, never sacrificing ambition at the cost of being easy listening – and yet, it still manages to have the cake and eat it too.
  • The mainline albums are all made to an incredibly high standard: having depth, groove and heaviness at the forefront, with a labyrinthian amount of subtleties to unearth in the background with repeated listens.


  • The lean catalogue of material.

Diagnosis: If you haven’t guessed by now, I have a lot of time for Black Light Burns. The band is deeply rooted in my life, with The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall in particular holding significant value as it got me through a really hard time in my life back in 2016. As it stands in 2024, Black Light Burns’ albums haven’t aged a day and are unwaveringly consistent, but outside of that, this band really displays Wes Borland’s incredible talents as a singer and songwriter. The meagre amount of material is both a blessing and a curse; on the one hand it’s obviously awesome to see every album at such an incredible standard, but at the same time there feels like there’s so much untapped potential with BLB. Is the project finished? Honestly, it’s hard to say. If it is, we’ve got an exceptional string of albums to listen to; if it’s not over…. well, we’re all ready for it.

DocGonz strikes again!

Let's hope Wes reads this and decides to make a new BLB album. I'm gonna listen to these now lol, it's been a while.

we can dream, eh ins? lol

as i say every time i do one of these guides, i get such satisfaction from going through an entire discog and writing down my feelings on each chapter in a band/artists career. i still listen to blb songs frequently, but it's been a bloody long time since i've gone through every record in full, and goddamn are they still awesome albums. even cover your heart was excellent, and i've not jammed that for well over a decade.

Agreed. I always enjoy when I get into random songs I thought were meh 5 years ago or so.

never checked this band

It's been awhile since i listened to them. Great band.


Definitely think you’d dig at least some of the moment you realize you’re going to fall

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