Sunday, 4 December 2011

Review: Korn - The Path of Totality

 Back in June, when I started off this humble little blog, I wasn't really sure of what to do with it, properly and rather than doing music reviews, there was really just pointless... rambling about music. Actually there'll be a bunch of people around who still think that's what it is today. But in one of my earlier posts I discussed my love of nu metal and how I thought it was still relevant and defied the common criticisms of the genre. Anyway, without any forward knowledge of the kind of events that would unfold over the next few months, I concluded the post by writing:
"The genre is still very much alive today,due to many bands who originally brought the genre to the masses in the late 90's and early 00's such as Korn and Disturbed, and may it continue to reign for many years to come."
 And then Disturbed went on hiatus. And Korn?... Korn did this.

Korn decided that they wanted to challenge themselves and their fans and try something all new and experimental. Being fully grown men and having released themselves of all the anger and suffering that fueled their early releases, the group were looking for a new style they could use to adapt and update nu metal for the 2010s generation of new music styles. And it's pretty obvious that the main music style that everyone grew an interest in this year is the dark and heavy electronic sound that is dubstep. So, teaming up with a group of dubstep musicians such as Kill the Noise, Noisia and currently the most recognizable face of the genre Skrillex, Korn have made a huge gamble on their tenth album The Path of Totality. Is it a success? Sort of.
 Following last year's stale sounding Korn III: Remember Who You Are this album makes it immediately delightful to hear the Bakersfield quartet sounding fresh. There's a real atmosphere of pureness and ultimate freshness in the electronic beats that Skrillex operates in opener Chaos Lives in Everything. It proves dubstep to be the craziest and most dynamic of all electronic genres and the nasally vocals of Jonathan Davis actually fits in very well with this backdrop, elevating the atmosphere of darkness and insanity provided. Actually, this electronic backdrop manages to characterize a lot of the themes and emotions the song want to build up. The genuine electronic brutality that Downlink provides in Sanctuary puts a greater emphasis on the levels of evil the songs is wishing to emphasize while the frantic electronic beats and breakdowns that Skrillex and Kill the Noise provide on Narcissistic Cannibal highlight the sadness and anger Davis wishes to draw on. These musicians often manage to just make an interesting and dramatic musical backdrop a lot of the time. The electronic effects provided by Downlink and Excision on Illuminati sound like a more energetic version of a backdrop from Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile. The dubstep effects are genuinely interesting and having a type of dance music that one can actually headbang to is pretty awe-inspiring.
 Call me a fuddy-duddy rock fan if you will, but if I have any problem with this album, it is that it should be a proper fusion of dubstep and metal and there are a lot of moments where that doesn't happen. The dubstep effects are heavy enough, but many of us will have been hoping to hear an equal emphasis on electronics and riffs and there are too many moments where that's just not happening and the album could just be called Jonathan Davis and Dub Friends! Some of the best tracks are the likes of Get Up!, Way Too Far, and the sinister Bleeding Out, where the power chord smashing from Munky and bass slapping of Fieldy are mixed well with the wobble bass effects from Skrillex, 12th Planet and Feed Me. These are the kinds of songs I was expecting from the album.
 So as you'd expect, The Path of Totality is Korn as you've never heard them before and the dubstep effects mixed with Korn's bleak heavy metal style is a combination that works well. However many may be disappointed to find a greater emphasis on the dubstep as opposed to the metal itself. But for it's sense of dynamism,creativity and thinking outside the box that the music provides, this album is pretty triumphant in achieving Korn's goals of following a new venture and redefining themselves musically.

Korn's The Path of Totality is out now via Roadrunner.

R.I.P Nu Metal

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