SMG Preview: Korn’s New Dubstep Album – The Path Of Totality
Any true fan of the band Korn has probably spent the last 5 or 6 years scratching their heads wondering what the band is plotting next. Since the departure of guitarist Brian “Head” Welch and drummer David Silveria, Korn has been re-inventing themselves and at the same time trying to find new ways to channel and exhume their original sound. As a huge fan of Korn and also the former guitarist and backing vocalist for HEAD (the aforementioned departed guitarist) I’ve gotten an inside look at where Korn came from and how they created their own unique brand of down-tuned chug chugs and quirky jingle jangles that landed them atop the throne labeled nu-metal. It’s been interesting to see the current shift in focus and the stylistic changes as the band returns to the scene with their new dubset inspired album The Path of Totality.
The band really stepped out on a limb with this one considering the last record they released Korn III : Remember Who You Are was highly promoted as the “return of Korn,” and promised fans that they had returned to their roots, so to speak. The Path of Totality on the other hand is at the other end of the spectrum musically speaking, but comes off as much more original and refreshing than the bands KIII attempt to return to their original sound. With that being said, this is one of those records that stands on its own in the bands extensive catalog. I can see die hard fans buying this and being split down the middle with half of them loving the originality and passion of it and the other half grumbling something like “dude this isn’t METAL”!!! As a musician and past member of an “ear of Korn” (that’s my cheesy pun for a solo project stemming from the band) I find this album inspiring on a few different levels. Allow me to retort!
Although there are some staple Korn elements missing on the new album (such as Fieldy’s signature slap style bass playing, Munky’s big guitar sound, the natural element of the live drums, etc.). But still, the album has a lot of heart to it because it replaces those staples with unique twists. The whole idea of merging dubstep and metal alone is unique and the dance vibe of the dub style doesn’t overshadow the metal essence and vice versa, which was something myself and many other Korn fans expected. The steady thumps and electronic grooves really paved a new road for vocalist Jonathan Davis to do what he does best, which is wow fans with his amazing voice. His melodies show his evolution as a singer and prove again that he has one of the most distinctive and intense voices in rock today. Lyrically this album has stepped up considerably (aside from the main hook in Get Up, which seems a bit too teen angst for where the band is at today) from the last few outings. The chorus to the opening track states “So why must it be. Chaos lives in everything. Trapped inside a dream. It all comes back to me.” Which seems much more profound and emotionally charged. It’s cool to see JD expanding and growing as an artist which is really evident on this record.
Another thing that makes this record stand out is the raw emotion that cuts through everything else that is going on musically. Many of the songs sound similar in respect to tempo and some of the breakdowns, but the raw emotion the band showed in their earlier days seems to come through much more on this album. Especially on tracks like My Wall and Way Too Far (which is by far my favorite track). Again JD pulls those low growls out of his kilt-bag of tricks and just adds a layer of intensity that musically says something bold.
I don’t view this album as a record people will get sucked into and lost in like Issues or Untouchables but it is truly inspiring to see these guys grow and expand creatively. After all, you can’t grow as an artist doing the same thing year after year with little to no advancement, or you just wind up with a 10-12 record catalog that all sounds the same and you are stuck trying to rest on your laurels (Yngwie Malmsteen immediately comes to mind). As a musician myself, I am inspired at how the album forces you to look outside the box and find ways to step out of your own comfort zone. When you look up to an artist or group for many years, their influence over your own artistry grows deeper and when you see them take a chance, it proves that we should all be willing to take a chance and do something different when you believe in what you are doing, as they have done with this new album. With today’s technology, musicians have so many tools at their fingertips to create music with, that nothing should hold them back from trying something new and seeing where it leads them. For Korn it leads them down The Path Of Totality and shows the world that this band is much more than just a healthy side dish and can serve up many more flavors than they are known for dishing out.