Review

Review

Black Light Burns: 'The Moment You Realize You're Going to Fall' – CD Review

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Wes Borland, best known as the guitarist for Limp Bizkit (and formerly for Marilyn Manson), put his side project Black Light Burns on hold for a few years – much to my dismay, since I dearly loved his 2008 interim release Cover Your Heart, which contained some supremely cool instrumentals, covers, b-sides from his (also excellent) debut album Cruel Melody, and other groovy experimental cuts. I'd almost forgotten how much time had passed, as Borland had introduced a couple of new Black Light Burns tunes since then – both of which made it into the soundtracks for the Underworld film series: the 2009 single "I Want You To" showed up in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (check out our soundtrack review here) and the stand-alone cut “Rapes All in Its Path” in this year's installment, Underworld: Awakening. While those were most welcome, I was still bummed about the lengthy album hiatus, in part due to Limp Bizkit's reunion in 2009... which, frankly, I wasn't all that thrilled about anyway. That dry spell thankfully ended with the arrival of Borland's new full-length album, The Moment You Realize You're Going to Fall. Borland put three years' work into this record, and I've been anxious to give it a spin...

 

 

For Cruel Melody, Borland corralled his own talents with those of Nine Inch Nails alumni Danny Lohner and Josh Freese, but Cover Your Heart was just as strong a release in its own way, with sections that represented Borland's unfiltered, experimental side. He picked a whole new crew for The Moment..., and the first three singles suggested that the “new” BLB sound was more aggressive and raw. For the most part, that turned out to be true, but the deep, dense and expansive production style that distinguished Cruel Melody, which often reminded me of Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails, is still firmly in place – along with that same sensation of floating in a beautiful nightmare.
 
After some seriously creepy samples, the album begins in a slightly more playful mood with "How to Look Naked,” a rowdy cowpunk ditty bolted onto crunchy industrial riffs with Borland's crazed vocals riding wild on top... a combination which, now that I think about it, kinda sums up the album's jumbled-up energy in capsule form. Listen for yourself:
 
 
There's plenty of chaotic mischief to follow in tracks like "Splayed,” which boasts the album's most memorable guitar work (and ballsiest strut), and the crusty post-punk of "We Light Up,” a standout thanks to seriously awesome free-for-all drumming. That Nine Inch Nails vibe I mentioned earlier comes through strongest in the jangly, greasy riffs of "Scream Hallelujah” and the slappy distorted rhythm of "Tiger by the Tail”... although the latter's crazed, flamboyant vocals are also reminiscent of electro-punkers Mindless Self Indulgence. Found-object percussion and clean guitar picking (plus a touch of bouzouki, or something similarly exotic) gives "The Colour Escapes" an exotic and urgent edge, and "Because of You" suggests that some of Manson's decadent glam might have rubbed off, although Borland reportedly had “creative differences” with The Spooky One. "Grinning Like a Slit" has a mellower vibe, but also an edge of menace that surfaces with Borland's multi-tracked chorus vocals, and a synth bass line pulsing in the background like a serpent.
 
The darkest side of BLB also surfaces several times, usually to chilling effect – particularly in the trashed-up robotic ballad "Torch from the Sky" (which features some seriously creepy vocal treatments), the ridiculously horny gothic number "Girl in Black," the '80s-style gloom rocker "Burn the World," and the beautifully titled "Your Head Will be Rotting on a Spike,” which is one of the spookiest BLB tracks ever recorded... and now one of my favorites too. Really, the only slight misstep for me is the trudging dirge “Bakelite,” which drags on too long without any real dynamics, but otherwise this is an album of strong repeaters. The journey ends with the title track – a moody, floating instrumental that would have fit well with the darkly cinematic cuts on Cover Your Heart. The song accompanies a promo video for the album, which captures the same haunting mood... check it out here:
 
 
The Moment You Realize You're Going to Fall represents nearly all of the strengths that Borland brought to the game in Cruel Melody – quirky melodies, surreal riffs, creepy lyrics, nerve-jangling noise and a dark, sensual atmosphere – proving he still has some intriguing tricks up his sleeve. While it doesn't break much new creative ground from its predecessor, it lines up very well with the band's previous material and demonstrates a firm grasp on their signature sound. It's also chock full o' crazy and whiplashes between genres so fast you can barely keep up... but somehow it all makes sense within its own surreal dream-logic.
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