Wes Borland is amusing. Just watch any Limp Bizkit video and you’ll soon understand this. Behind Fred Durst’s bad boy posturing, there’s this guy in black contacts, strange face makeup and odd costumes. Why does Wes Borland do this? While he’s made some offhand comments about his opinions regarding his own band and therefore possibly wants to distance his own image from that of his bandmates, it’s more than likely that he just enjoys being weird and attracting attention to himself. And it is, well, amusing, especially in the middle of a band that seems to take itself too seriously.
Likewise, Borland’s solo side project, Big Dumb Face and its debut album Duke Lion Fights the Terror!! is nothing but amusing. While it’s obvious you’re not meant to take it seriously, you won’t, because that’s highly preferable to the alternative. Much like his stage persona, Wes Borland is just being weird because he can.
Even though Duke Lion Fights the Terror!! covers some of the same territory already explored by GWAR, Borland doesn’t have the same sort of creativity or drive. The self-parodying nature of Big Dumb Face works on a very surface level, with song titles such as “Mighty Penis Laser” and the theme songs for the major characters in this work, such as “Duke Lion” himself and “Blood Red Head on Fire”. There’s obviously a plot to Duke Lion Fights the Terror!!, but it’s best if you don’t try to think too hard about it; in fact, it’s probably best if you don’t think about it at all.
Borland essentially did everything on this album, not only writing all the music and lyrics, but playing most of the instruments, providing vocals (if you want to count his obviously altered chipmunk voice as “vocals”), as well as the album’s artwork. He has a depth of noticeable talent once you’re able to get underneath the surface stupidity of these songs. He also has a good sense of arrangement and composition, and the songs are catchy despite themselves. It’s sad, though, that Borland has squandered his skill on something that isn’t anything more than a novelty. Wes, we already know that you’re weird. What else can you do?
Duke Lion Fights the Terror!! is an interesting combination of being a waste of time and oddly compelling, but in the end, it does fall into the former category. You may listen to it once, but there’s no reason to hear it again, especially when you’re left with the sense that Borland not only could’ve done better, but he should’ve done better. Big Dumb Face is definitely amusing, but in the end, what’s the point in just that?
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/bigdumbface-duke/