Time has cast an unflattering light on Limp Bizkit’s music. In the late ’90s, their abrasive rap metal supplied the soundtrack for rebellious teenage years. But as their fanbase slowly began to swap their skateboards for more adult sensibilities, the Bizkit never really left the nu-metal sandbox.
It’s like nature, in all its Darwinian splendour, had consigned the band to the annals of history; or so it appeared. 14 years on, Gold Cobra seems like a natural sequel to 1999’s Significant Other; featuring some of the finest riffs the band has ever committed to tape. But with lyrics as subtle as a fart in an elevator, the thin veil of nostalgia that envelopes this album quickly begins to show signs of wear.
Admittedly, Durst has never entertained notions of winning a Pulitzer Prize, but you begin to question his value as a frontman when he churns out lyrics like: “We got this party goin’ harder than a motherfucker! All these naked ladies makin’ out with one another”. He’s still the juvenile delinquent in the corner making the rest of the class look bad. The arrangements in ‘Bring It Back’ and the title track are classic nu-metal templates; groove-laden rhythms interspersed with offbeat samples and bowel-rendering lead guitar. But these solid foundations are buried under insipid hooks as memorable as the keynote speaker at an Alzheimer’s convention.
At rare intervals, Durst raises his head from the gutter and contributes a catchy verse. On the wistful ‘Loser’, he discards the dubious ad-libbing and delivers a few articulate lines in a measured rhythm; a rap prerequisite he’s neglected all too often. Featuring a virtuosic solo courtesy of Wes Borland, it’s one of the few approachable tracks on the album; despite its lacklustre chorus.
Repeating the pattern of 2005’s Unquestionable Truth, Borland’s guitar wizardry is one of the few reasons for listening to this album. His trademark pinched harmonics on ‘Douche Bag’ and jazzy counterpoints on ‘Shotgun’ remind us why the band was such a trend setter all those years ago. But with little to distinguish it from its predecessors, Gold Cobra struggles to free itself from the shackles of an outdated genre.
In an uncertain world, Limp Bizkit remind us that somethings in life never change. To their faithful followers, Gold Cobra has the same relevance today as Three Dollar Bill Y’all had in 1997. For the rest of us, results may vary.