After the unlistenable mess that was 2007’s ‘Untitled’ album and 2010’s warmed-over attempt to recapture the magic ‘Korn III: Remember Who You Are,’ where was the once-mighty band to go?
Korn’s heyday was during the of-maligned nu-metal phase that dominated rock radio in the mid to late 90’s. Since then, most of their contemporaries have faded into obscurity. When your music is so reliant on the genre that you helped popularize, the only way to survive a shift in trends is to evolve.
On their latest album, ‘The Path of Totality’ the band goes in a direction that no one could have predicted: dubstep/electronica. To properly attempt this, the band utilized the talents of Skrillex, Noisia, Downlink, Excision, and others to handle production duties.
“Get Up” and “The Narcissistic Cannibal” were the two lead singles and “Chaos Lives In Everything” is the first track on the album. This is no coincidence because they were all produced by the Grammy-nominated Skrillex and are among the strongest material here. At its best, a lot of the music actually compliments Jonathan Davis’ now familiar vocal delivery. A good example of this is the swirling “Way Too Far.’ It’s one of the tracks that effectively weaves some melody into a memorable chorus. As far as a lyricist, Davis has never been accused of being a overwhelmingly insightful. The familiar themes of anger, isolation and being downtrodden are explored. What else would the kids want to hear about? Nevermind that the majority of their longtime fans are well into their 20s and 30s. There are many times where the guitars are lost in the mix as is the traditional semblance of live drumming. It all sounds swirled into a traditional concoction of electronic noise.
“Sanctuary” is a plodding number that never really goes anywhere. To a lesser extent, “Get Up!” has the same problem, even though it starts off promisingly and energetically. Sometimes, the aggressively nifty production work seems like a way to prop up some relatively lackluster songs. The bonus songs on the special edition also deserve their status as ‘extra’ though “Tension” has a few moments of the familiar Davis ‘scatting’ which seemed like it was missing from the rest of the album.
A huge portion of Korn’s fanbase will flatly reject this album. While it sound like a Korn album, it leaves behind many of their defining elements in the name of progress. Depending on how well it sells, this probably is a one-time endeavor and gives absolutely no indication about their future direction.
The long and short of this review: ‘The Path of Totality’ is actually a bit better than the mess you might be expecting it to be, especially if you’re open to the style of music they attempt here. If you hate dubstep or Korn or both, you’ll hate this. Heck, you might hate this if you like dubstep and Korn. The easiest thing to say is, don’t seek this out if you want another ‘Follow The Leader.’ It’s not 1998 anymore people. Let it go.
This post was written by:
J.J. Ellis – When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!