Limp Bizkit Lean Into The Backlash On Gold Cobra

It's been a little over a decade since Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water became the fastest-selling rock album of all time, a record that's at this point unlikely to be broken. Generally speaking, being a cultural phenomenon on that scale for even a fleeting moment can pretty much guarantee a band a sizable fanbase for life—see the previous holders of that record, Pearl Jam, who've spent the ensuing years seemingly doing everything not to sustain their peak level of popularity, yet still play arenas. But Gold Cobra, the first album with Limp Bizkit's original lineup since Starfish came out in 2000, will almost certainly sell a tiny fraction of the million units Limp Bizkit were once able to move in the space of a week. Even the active rock stations that still play the band's early hits haven't touched the lead single "Shotgun," which was sent out for radio adds over a month ago; it hasn't appeared on a single Billboard chart, though it did peak at No. 28 on RPM's Canadian Rock chart. Last year, they canceled a U.S. tour amid rumors of low ticket sales. This is a band that has experienced the backlash to end all backlashes.

Guitarist Wes Borland, long considered Limp Bizkit's musical guiding light, left and rejoined the group twice over the past ten years, during which they released only two records: 2003's underperforming (but still platinum) Results May Vary and the 2005 EP The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), which sold little with no advance promotion or singles. But the drop in Limp Bizkit's profile has less to do with their absence or disappointment in those projects, and more to do with how utterly divisive the band was at their peak of ubiquity.

Frontman Fred Durst comes out swinging on Gold Cobra, eager to remind listeners why they loved—or, more likely, hated—him in the first place. His verses on "Bring It Back" showcase his squeaky, animated flow over a thumping drum machine beat that occasionally breaks for a spastic rock chorus. By the end of the song, he's dredging up the past and defiantly linking it to the present, and even the future: "Remember all the '90s things and '90s hits we laced like this/ Comin' to you live 2012 and hell, there's still no shit like this." And soon, inevitably, comes the barely coherent hostility, with updated cultural references: "Tie you up to electric chairs and toast them guts like nuts on Christmas/ Never worry if anybody gonna like me, don't give a damn if anybody give a fuck/ I'ma say what I want, you can look it up/ Wikipedia probably gonna fuck it up."

On "Douche Bag"—which the band wanted as Cobra's lead single, a plan that was nixed by Interscope—Durst doesn't seem aware of how often the title phrase has been directed at him. Like Kanye West on "Runaway," he instead hurls the insult outward; the chorus simply consists of the refrain "Douchebag, I'ma fuck you up." And then the song ends with a surprisingly nimble swing jazz breakdown and cackling laughter, an unexpectedly whimsical moment that has Borland's name written all over it.

While Borland does bring a bit of his ingenuity to the proceedings, with odd squeals of texture amid the heavy riffing, his weirdness and creativity has always been a bit overstated in contrast to Durst's raging id. Truth is, even if Borland ever took the reigns, Limp Bizkit probably wouldn't suddenly turn into Mr. Bungle, or even Primus. But in a twisted, sacrilegious way, he is the Keith to Fred's Mick, and that odd-couple partnership does drive the band's best moments.

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