Cruel Melody

Black Light Burns

I Am Wolfpack, 2007

http://www.blacklightburns.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/10/2007

Black Light Burns, a brand new solo venture for former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, is musically way intense and a much darker project than his previous band.

Cruel Melody, Black Light’s first offering, is a formidable effort in which it embraces the gothic bleakness of Nine Inch Nails and at the same time does not forego the crisp melodiousness of Limp Bizkit, creating an industrial record that is as accessible as a pop album.

Borland didn’t leave Limp Bizkit without learning a thing or two about putting melody to good use in rock music and making really catchy numbers, and he clearly uses this lesson as the foundation for Cruel Melody. However, comparing it to a pop album doesn’t make it any smaller. It’s got a lot of meat on it, mainly from Borland’s angst and massive guitar power, and some powerhouse drumming by Josh Freese, who really adds punch in his own way, particularly to the tracks “One Of Yours” and “4 Walls.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

By default, one might expect Borland’s project to be somewhat similar to his former band, a liberty he could’ve enjoyed without being blamed too much for it. However, Cruel Melody hardly sounds anything like Limp Bizkit at all.

However, for good or bad, Black Light is dangerously close to Nine Inch Nails in style -- the songwriting, the music, the production and even the way Borland sings is way too much like Trent Reznor (“Can’t Stop A Bullet” is the best example); maybe because Cruel Melody is produced by one of Reznor’s cronies, Danny Lohner. This particular aspect of Black Light lingers too prominently around it, in spite of the impressiveness of Cruel Melody as a debut effort, and would make it an awful record to listen to, for those bothered by this glaring parity between the two groups.

But no doubt, Cruel Melody is a great industrial-rock album, and this is not just because it has big beats, searing guitars and great melodies. It is also the surprises that the album throws at us that makes it even more interesting. The title track is unexpectedly stripped down, and the rawness of its acoustic guitars and drums gives it an almost quirky indie appeal, which is so much different from the direction the rest of the album takes.

Also, towards the end of the record, with the last three cuts -- “New Hungry,” “I am Where It Takes Me” and the instrumental “Iodine Sky” -- Borland throws another curveball. Unlike the rest of the high-octane Cruel Melody, these cuts are reflective and poignant, and bathed in lush keyboards, with absolutely no blazing guitars or raging choruses as a part of them.

Furthermore, “I Am Where It Takes Me” -- the best cut on the record -- is a little surprise on its own, featuring the raspy vocals of Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde) at the singing helm, adding a little beauty and a mysterious aura to the somber gloominess of the song.

Cruel Melody is a decent start to this Limp Bizkit expatriate and a pretty strong debut as a whole. If leaving Limp Bizkit was what it had to take to bring this record to existence, then amen to Borland’s decision. Let's hope the next one builds on this.

Rating: B-

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© 2007 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of I Am Wolfpack, and is used for informational purposes only.