Being a grown adult capable of reading books written for adults instead of fawning over ones written for preteens, it pains me to reference Harry Potter but here goes: remember when Jelly Belly made those Harry Potter jelly beans with gross flavors? Vomit, snot, and things like that were inexplicably put into candy form, and of course I ate every bad flavor; sometimes subjecting yourself to gross and tasteless things is thrilling and enticing. Which brings us to Angry White Elephant’s debut vs. The Wooden Cobra, for which I voluntarily shoveled the aural equivalent of a kilogram of jellybeans flavored like Reese cups stuffed with wasabi and cabbage into my mouth just so I could tell you all about it.
If you had a time machine, what would you do? Kill Hitler or Stalin? Embark on the First Crusade with modern weaponry? Get sloshed and talk philosophy with Plato? How about go to the jam rooms of Limp Bizkit, Powerman 5000, Adema, and Thumb, take some notes, and then make a record? This last option is the one Angry White Elephant, our dear travelers of space, time, and space-time, have chosen, and vs. The Wooden Cobra is the result of all this. While the Dark Ages are, as any serious historian will tell you, grossly mislabeled in terms of European history, those interested in metal will confidently and correctly say the late 90s and early 2000s were a sort of dark ages for the genre. For Angry White Elephant, this period is a fertile ground of inspiration, and they’ve made the most nu-metal nu-metal record ever produced outside of that period. Lunkheaded riffs, active slap bass, bad shouting, worse cleans, atrocious rapping, and those damned turntables are all present in abundance here.
Imported fresh from the Dark Ages is a severe lack of time management. Vs. The Wooden Cobra is a whopping fifty minutes long, and manages to be both grueling and soporific at the same time, like running a marathon on a treadmill in your dreams. The title track sounds like it’s about to burst into a Wu-Tang tune with its old kung-fu flick sample, but does a juke worthy of LaDanian Tomlinson and transforms into a Red Hot Chili Peppers song with breakdowns and yelling, replete with utterly garish clean vocals. It’s also nearly six minutes long for some inexplicable reason, and only has about three ideas: RHCP plus rap, bad breakdown with shouting over top, and an alt-rock hook so dull and ineffective that even minnows would have a giggle at its expense. “Scarz” is content to limply worship Limp Bizkit, and encourages all the “ladies in the club” to “show their scarz.” Flo-Rida, a much simpler man, just wanted to see shawties get low; Angry White Elephant want to see the ladies display the aftermath of their bad kitchen accident in college. I haven’t tried using this line in a club so I can’t speak for its effectiveness.
Another bizarre ditty is “Frontflip,” which is more Limp Bizkit lite stuff with all the rap taunts included. It goes nowhere, does nothing, and basically falls flat on its face due to poor ideas being executed poorly and a ridiculous chorus. Essentially, it’s a painfully failed frontflip performed in front of a Buffalo Wild Wings by someone who’s had too much Coors Light at 1 AM. “Self Ignition” breaks the mold by sounding like a scintillating combination of Hot Action Cop and Limp Bizkit, and it totally could’ve been considered for placement on a Need for Speed soundtrack. It probably would’ve been rejected for its overall poor showing, but it could’ve perhaps made an early Test Drive game or something.
I can confidently say that Angry White Elephant are very good at emulating the classic nu-metal sound. However, a great imitation of something quite bad is, well, quite bad. This is the aural equivalent of throwing your thirty year old friend a birthday party themed after that night in his teens when he had a few too many, urinated on a playground, got charged with public urination, and then made the sex offender list. Sure, it can be an accurate representation and, depending on your sense of humor, be at least a little funny, but what would possess anyone to actually do it? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care, but since I don’t have to listen to vs. The Wooden Cobra for review anymore, this record can be expunged.