Overall Score: 7/10 Musicianship: 8/10 Variety: 8/10 Consistency: 5/10 Pros: Limp Bizkit is as Limp Bizkit does, only even more self-aware Cons: Album loses momentum about half way through, feels too short
Limp Bizkit. The much maligned face of turn-of-the-century nu metal which was often pointed to by critics as the worst of the worst, and justification for the intense hatred held towards nu metal as a whole for the next decade. Of course, in the intervening years, those who grew up with the genre have begun to embrace its influence, and the mood has softened in recent years – not that Fred Durst and co have been able to capitalise. It’s been 10 whole years since Gold Cobra dropped, and aside from a handful of singles that since failed to make it onto the album, the Bizkit have largely been little more than a legacy act on the live circuit, with band members leaving and rejoining in the meantime. Nevertheless, the quintet is back in one piece now and, with little prior warning, dropped Still Sucks online on Halloween.
The album flies out the gates in typical Limp Bizkit style, with the double salvo of “Out of Style” and “Dirty Rotten Bizkit” containing all the defining features of the band condensed into 6 and a half minutes of adrenaline. Wes Borland’s riffs are as creative as ever, with Sam Rivers and John Otto providing their ever reliable rhythm section and DJ Lethal on the decks like it’s 1999. Most importantly, Fred Durst has lost none of his swagger as frontman. Though sporting a drastic new look and often criticised even in his heyday, Fred has always been a consistent performer and while other contemporaries have deteriorated in terms of vocal ability down the years, Fred sounds the same as he did 20 years ago. His lyrics are still on a 3rd grade level but are now more self aware than ever, with the tongue-in-cheek earworm “Dad Vibes” a major example of this – same with “Love the Hate”, where the band poke fun at those that continue to cling onto their hatred of everything they’ve done.
There’s definitely a lot of variety on the album considering its length of only 32 minutes too. The opening tracks are typical Limp Bizkit, but throughout the album we see them aping Cypress Hill (“Turn It Up Bitch”) and 90s grunge/alt-metal (“Barnacle”), with a cover of INXS’s “Don’t Change” thrown in for good measure. It actually shows off a fair amount of versatility in Fred’s voice for that matter, with much softer singing in poppy closer “Goodbye” contrasted with the screams and rapping heard elsewhere, or more typical hard rock singing on “Barnacle”. It’s not necessarily something you think of when you consider his performances on previous records, but Still Sucks does succeed at highlighting it.
However, where the album falls short is in its length. With 12 tracks clocking in at 32 minutes, some of them feel like they’re not fully fleshed out, as most barely make it to 2 minutes in length if that. After all the talk of the album being delayed due to Fred being a “perfectionist”, it feels almost like he turned around at some point this year and thought “to hell with it, let’s just have fun with what we’ve got”. While it makes for a more fun listening experience, it definitely feels like they could have made a few of the songs a bit longer. This short running time also means that the slower songs kill any momentum built up by the first 4 tracks, making it feel very front loaded. There are great heavier songs in the second half of the album like “You Bring Out the Worst In Me” and “Pill Popper”, as well as the purely goofy tracks “Love the Hate” and “Snacky Poo” (complete with amusing faux-interview with Wes Borland), but by then it’s struggling to pick up again with some entirely forgettable tracks left in the mix.
All in all, Still Sucks is a great distillation of everything Limp Bizkit do best, with the crew not letting themselves be beholden to critical opinion anymore and just doing whatever the hell they like. It’s not going to win over any detractors, but it’s not designed to. It’s a treat for the fans and for themselves, nobody else, and that’s why it works. It would have been nice if they’d been able to put out something a bit longer, or flesh out some of the shorter tracks, but you can definitely see them stretching out certain tracks on the live circuit, and if another album does eventually come out, you can see them building on the tone set here.
Still Sucks is out now via Suretone Records.