It’s been eight years that have passed since Limp Bizkit released their last album, the commercially disappointing Results May Vary. Since then, we’ve elected eight American Idol winners, the Red Sox have won the World Series twice, and every rock band that used to be popular at the beginning of the decade has died except for Linkin Park and Nickelback. In the meantime, Bizkit frontman Fred Durst directed a couple movies (The Education of Charlie Banks was actually pretty good!), appeared in an episode of House and generally stayed the fuck away from the sphere of popular music, as he came to terms with his legacy as the country’s most reviled rock musician of the turn-of-the-century .
Now that the Bizkit are back, I figured that nothing would surprise me about what musical direction they possibly could have taken in the interim. Gone the stadium rock route like Linkin Park? Makes sense. Gone super-high-concept industrial like Nine Inch Nails? It was probably inevitable. Downplayed their metal influences to return to their hip-hop roots? I guess some people might appreciate that. Downplayed their hip-hop influences to return to their metal roots? See you guys at the Gathering of the Juggalos next year. Any and all of it seemed plausible, and I was ready for the best of the worst.
The one thing I didn’t see coming was this: From the 30-second preview of “Shotgun,” the new single off Limp Bizkit’s upcoming album Gold Cobra, Limp Bizkit sound exactly the same as they did a decade ago. The streamlined guitars on the headbanging chorus, the rapped vocals over tense, jagged rhythms on the verse, the general theme of misplaced aggression (Hook: “What you gon’ do when you sittin’ all alone / In your empty-ass home / With the mothafuckin’ sawed-off?”), not only does it sound just like old Biz, it sounds exactly like everything else that was on mainstream rock radio in 2003, calling back the long-dormant ghosts of P.O.D., Trapt and even System of a Down.
Perhaps if I’d gotten a look at the cover art first, or if I’d known that the original choice for Gold Cobra‘s lead single was a song called “Douchebag,” I wouldn’t be quite so surprised at the apparent lack of evolution here. But…are Limp Bizkit really trying to pretend like the last eight years just didn’t happen? Don’t they realize that as sick of the public was of their act back in 2003, they’re going to be even less enthralled by it in an age where Kings of Leon is about as ostentatious as popular rock music gets? Hasn’t the Biz Kid army grown up by now? Haven’t Bizkit themselves grown up?
Some things never change, we suppose. It’ll be good to have Fred Durst back in our lives again for one reason or another regardless, and if we can get another “My Way” or “Break Stuff” out of the mix, it might not be a complete waste of time. But damn, someone might want to tell these guys at some point that the Family Values tour ain’t around no more, and TRL went off the air four years ago.