Review Summary: Like everything Wes Borland is involved in, Cover Your Heart and the Anvil Pants Odyssey isn't quite what you think it will be.
As with anything Wes Borland does in the field of music, it’s never going to be what you expect. After his departure from Limp Bizkit, people came to realise Wes was a little eccentric, playing in several obscure projects after his departure with the NU-Metal outfit. So when Borland released the debut album to his solo project, Black Light Burns, it came as a surprise that "Cruel Melody" turned out to be a solid and entertaining album, fusing Industrial and Alt Rock elements that created a sound crossed between QOTSA and NIN.
The time frame between “Cruel Melody” and "The Moment You Realize You're Going To Fall" saw Borland release “Cover Your Heart And The Anvil Pants Odyssey” – a remix and b-side album which also contained cover songs from various bands – thought of as a little appetiser to whet the appetites of fans before Black Light Burns got round to release their second LP.
When you look at the track list on paper it looks like a pretty interesting range of covers and a nice amount of B-sides and remixes. The reality is I see this compilation as a warning to fans on the direction the band will go in for its next release. “Cruel Melody” was a pretty easy listen and to those that like the more Industrial, Alt Rock sound, with clean productions and tracks littered in catchy hook melodies, fans will really enjoy it. Unbeknown to fans then, “The Moment You Realize You’re Going To Fall” goes a lot more experimental and for the most part throws any preconceptions you had for the band out the window.
“Cover Your Heart And The Anvil Pants Odyssey” for me is seen in two half’s, the first half is the covers, the second half the B-sides. The covers range from interesting to outright attempts at alienating. Why do I think Borland is trying to alienate fans of a weaker mindset? Well the most obvious answer is the production used for the covers, which varies from at worst Wes sounding like he recorded the songs inside a bin with a recording pen to at best sounding like he recorded them in his damp garage with a recording pen. Don’t expect “Hungry Like A Wolf” to hold the same polished tones Duran, Duran’s song once held, you’ll be getting low quality, distorted instruments and Wes Borland sounding like Trent Reznor.
But then, if you look at the list of bands being covered, with the exception of Duran, Duran and maybe PJ Harvey, these are Industrial, Punk and Hardcore bands where down and dirty is the only way. And if you look at it like that, BLB do a great job of covering songs like “Forkboy” and Jesus Lizard’s “The Art Of Self Defence”. “I Am The Sun” is a standout track done really well, primarily because Wes’ vocals do a really good job of making the song his own. But this is what I mean by Wes attempting to remove the deadwood from the fan base. If the Limp Bizkit fan managed to hold interest up to “I Am The Sun” then I'll suspect they will have thrown the CD out the window by the time they get to the Big Dumb Face (one of Wes’ other bands) track “Blood Red Head On Fire”.
The latter half of the album is the B-sides and remixes. This half of the album is entirely instrumental, experimental and sounds more like the psychedelic sections found on “Cruel Melody”. This section is also the opposed opposite to the raw Punk/Hardcore covers found on the first half of the album. The production is clean: crisp sounding guitars and electronics that sound beautiful. It’s also a much more chilled out experience compared to the chaotic first half of the LP; things can be digested a lot easier and it's a pretty smooth ride for the duration spent to its closing seconds. You'll find the odd weird section in tracks like "Zargon Morfoauf", but nothing to provoking. The problem with this half of the album is it's over far too quickly, 4 of the tracks only have a run time of just over 1 minute, so it'll be hard for it to sink in the first time round. Still, this half of the album is where I found the most enjoyment.
Overall, the album is a mixed bag, and the enjoyment of this compilation will depend on your musical preference. If you liked BLB debut for the more straight forward Rock sound the chances of you enjoying the covers are slim. The album isn't a complete bust for everyone though, because even if you don't like the covers, the B-sides will more than please most. If you’re a fan of the band you are likely to find some redeeming qualities from this interesting compilation. Just don't go in expecting what you got with "Cruel Melody".
Worth Checking Out.