Review Summary: I'm just an alien with 37 tons of new millennium.
After the commercial explosion of Limp Bizkit’s sophomore release, Significant Other
, in 1999, the band became the next best thing since sliced bread; the poster boys for the insanely popular Frankenstein sub-genre: NU-metal. Yet, through no fault of their own, they brought as much controversial opinion to the table as they did success; metal elitists and hip-hop purists despised them, while mainstream music goers lapped up every note the band produced. Of course, the band was sandwiched in the middle of the media and social circus, riding the blinding success as it came to them. Regardless of what your preference was at the time, it is common fact the band were the next big thing since Nirvana, and you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing them.
Much like any album that breaks a band out, the record that precedes it is the one that really matters; the all-seeing eye is fixated on the group, and pressures are high. At the time of Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water
’s release it was pretty easy to see the album was a solid successor, following in the footsteps of what the last album brought, with an added refinement and nip-tuck in certain areas to make it a slightly stronger release. And by today’s standards, it’s clear this LP still has a lot more to offer fans than its predecessor. Limp Bizkit really go to town on making catchy tracks a focal point here: from the opening seconds of “Hot Dog”, you’ll end up having it jammed in your cerebral cortex for days after. Taking the “Break Stuff” template to new levels here, there’s a larger enjoyment to be had if you like this kind of music, and more than a handful of genuinely fun moments are offered with the likes of “My Generation”, “My Way”, “Take A Look Around” and “Livin’ It Up” – as well as curve balls like “Boiler” which brings an unusual melancholy to the record, that’s not only a fine addition to the album’s tracklist but a great album closer to boot. This credit, of course, mainly goes to Wes Borland’s fantastically obscure and diverse guitar playing which offers a variety of textures and moods for him to use as he sees fit; the breadth of sounds at his disposal is impressive and stands to make even the most average of songs elevate itself to a better quality. It would be unfair to give all the credit to Wes though, as the rhythm section has always brought a perfect balance to what Borland brings to the table: infectiously simple grooves that meld in with the guitar, bringing a funky, heavy aesthetic to the songs; while DJ Lethal adds his contribution in all the right places.
As with nearly all of Limp Bizkit’s albums, musically Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water
isn’t the problem here, the issues stem from the notorious front man, Fred Durst. At best, his performance brings a goofy “party-hard” quality to the songs. Almost every track here contains something that will make you cringe: be the repetition found on “Rollin’”, as he constantly repeats ”keep rollin’, rollin’ rollin’”
; the vomit-inducing take on “The One” about a new girl he wants to hook up with; “Full Nelson” for firing out his usual shtick of giving it to the haters; or “My Generation” for attempting to connect to the masses rejected by society’s older generations. When these lyrics are nestled underneath the great music, they are adequate. You can’t knock his vocal performance as a whole, it’s infectious and his melodies and lyric placements will ultimately get stuck in your head well after listening. But when you dissect them for what they really are, they really damage the overall presentation.
At this point in Limp Bizkit’s career, I don’t think I need to advocate to many who haven’t heard the band before; you’ll either like it or hate it. But if you are one of the few that haven’t heard anything from the band and you like NU-metal or metal with an eccentric touch, you should check this out. It might not be the band’s defining moment, but it’s certainly one of their stronger ones.
PACKAGING: Jewel case.
SPECIAL EDITION: A two disc edition of the album is floating around, containing a host of bonus tracks, including their cover of “Faith”.