The Paradigm Shift

Written by: MBC on 24/11/2013 23:59:08

It has been almost twenty years since their stunning album debut, and Korn is still going strong constantly re-inventing themselves and going into new directions. Especially vocalist Jonathan Davis is known to constantly be wanting to delve into new musical or artistic areas, for instance in film or with his DJ side project entitled J Devil. Korn’s last album, the dubstep themed “The Path of Totality” from 2011 was largely influenced by Davis’ love for electronic music and might have been the band’s biggest departure from anything they had done in the past. Korn fans also rejoiced last year as founding member guitarist Brian “Head” Welch returned on stage with the band, after he had been gone since 2005 in order to get sober, pursue a life with Christ and take better care of his daughter. Apparently Head has now found a way to balance all those things, as he is finally back in Korn and has been a part of the recording of the band’s 11th album “The Paradigm Shift”.

With this new album once again Korn has gone in a new direction. The album does not sound much like the last one with only a few dubstep parts remaining, although there are still many electronic effects in the music. The re-appearance of Head must have had its effect on the band’s creative process. Head was always the most “metal” member of the group and the raw and heavy sound that the band pioneered in the mid-nineties was largely a credit to him. “The Paradigm Shift” does not sound like those records either, but some of the older Korn elements are present. It seems that the band has made a comprise of what the new direction should be with a combination of melodic rock/metal and electronics delivered with a very polished sound in order to create the Korn of 2013. It does not exactly measure up to the Korn that I used to know, but there are some good songs on this new album.

First song “Prey For Me” is familiar sounding territory for Korn listeners. It starts off with a classic Korn, heavy, staccato riff that leads into Fieldy’s slap-style bass and Davis’ characteristic voice. He switches between a melodic groove in the verse and a more raw, throaty approach in the chorus. In one part of the song he sings in his high, dreamy voice that he used on songs on “Untouchables” and “See You On The Other Side”. “Mass Hysteria” opens with an eerie guitar riff which sounds like it could have been on the “Issues” record. “Love & Meth” has Davis doing his characteristic snarling singing in the verse, followed by a little growl and then opening up in the big chorus. Davis is one of the best and most varied vocalists in modern rock, which he demonstrates again on this new record.

The same sadly cannot be said about his lyrics, which seem to have become uninspired and random. Some of the band’s earlier work had him exposing himself with incredible personal and painful depth, in which he talked about the abuse and alienation of his childhood and adolescence and the traumas associated with working as a coroner’s assistant. Obviously, he has gotten a lot older and is not expected to talk about the same things over and over, but some of these lyrics seem like they were written just to have words on a song. Look at the lyrics to the chorus of “Prey For Me”: “Prey for me, I think I owe you an apology, somehow you bring the violence out in me, I'm just a shell of what I used to be, passion is sometimes a fucked up thing for me”. He rimes the word “me” three times! On “Never Never” the verse goes like this: “I don’t ever wanna have to try, although I lie, it never flies, I don’t ever wanna have to die, but deep inside the death it hides, and I never wanna clarify and justify, so I run and hide, and I never wanna signify, so I pacify all the hate inside”. He then proceeds to sing how he will never love again in the chorus. These lyrics are just pointless rhyming without any real emotional connection. This is a huge change from the earlier Korn releases, where you could actually feel Davis’ pain deep inside your own soul.

But maybe this actually goes along with the music quite well. Korn have become a very polished, un-raw rock/metal band with talented musicians that have re-invented themselves countless times, perhaps to a point where they have gotten tired from it, and maybe the lyrics are a representation of that. Korn is still a great band, especially with Head back in the fold, and “The Paradigm Shift” is a good record, but it hardly measures up to earlier releases such as the debut, “Issues” or “Untouchables”.


Download: Love & Meth, Mass Hysteria, It’s All Wrong
For The Fans Of: Static-X, Nonpoint, Papa Roach
Listen: Facebook

Release Date 08.10.2013
Prospect Park

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