Having been a fan of Korn for many years I was shocked to hear them announce a new album as their change of direction. The Path of Totality, released by Roadrunner in December 2011, is their self-claimed “Dub Step” future but surely after 9 previous studio albums, there will be enough of Korn shining through in any album they do to offer something for us long-time supporters?
Well apparently not. After years of being happy to be the pioneers of Nu Metal, Korn have presumably made enough money to turn their back on the genre and insult everybody who every loved and supported them. Proclaiming their dislike of metal and denying their status as nu metal pioneers, they appear to have set out on a mission to destroy all past ties. In the end they didn’t need to say anything this album speaks a thousand words. Sounding like a busy day in an office, the musical talent is at a low and the PC’s and Macs are working overtime to throw around 36 minutes of looping effects at you. Featuring numerous “dub step artists”, this new Korn direction is designed around glow sticks and white gloves and sits as far away from the mosh pit as possible.
The first track on the album is called Chaos Lives in Everything (feat. Skrillex) and is utter rubbish. Starting with a little drum and bass style intro before becoming an endless mix of effects and stop/start synth. Jonathon Davis’ voice is still him but sounds particularly whiny and strained over the effects. Would make more sense if this was a Skrillex song that featured JD, rather than the other way round.
Track 2, Kill Mercy Within (feat. Noisia) carries on the disappointing start by teasing you with something that sounds like a guitar at the beginning. It quickly gets lost in another bucket load of distorted synth. The slower pace of the song seems to suit the vocals and they sound less strained in this track. It feels a little more like a Korn track, albeit one that has been stolen by a mash up DJ and ruined.
Track 3 is called My Wall and features Excision. You know an album is not for you when after 2 tracks; I celebrate the fact that this song is only 2.5 minutes long. Far too many effects kill it for me within seconds but when it finally settles, the lyrical content seems more true to type. The constant barrage of distortion and breakdown is too much though.
Right now, I just want to turn the album off and bin it but I will persevere with track 4. Featuring more “artists” we have Narcissistic Cannibal (feat. Skrillex and Kill the Noise). The song starts of sounding like someone typing furiously on a keyboard (the non-musical type) before distorted synth and looping effects come back in. Sounding amazingly similar to the first track, this song is horrid.
Illuminati (feat. Excision and Downlink) is next. I can only presume Downlink have come to help as Excision made such a mess of track 3. JD’S vocals start of weak and stretched with him claiming he “cannot believe what is happening”. I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Another effect heavy, whiny song that is best skipped.
Track 6, Burn the Obedient (feat. Noisia) comes next. The first words are. Are You Scared? While it is probably a rhetorical question I did answer with, “No, just disappointed”. There is a little more pace at the start of this mess before JD starts whining again. Luckily it is the shortest track on the album making it probably the best “song” on the album.
Track 7, Sanctuary (feat. Downlink) and starts with a weird effect that sounds a little like a photocopier. The vocals move a little out of sync to the sounds in the background making everything sound very odd. Same effects, same singing but different lyrics pretty much sums up this track.
Track 8 is called Let’s Go (feat. Noisia) starts with a little more “wub wub” nonsense and despite the title and a shout of “Let’s Go” is actually another slow paced track with repetitive lyrics and repetitive effects. Really weak song, effects or not, there is just nothing here that stands out.
Worryingly Skrillex is back as the featured artist on track 9, Get Up. Starting off sounding like a boss fight on a retro console, I am really at a loss to describe how poor this is. Rather than try, I will let Mr Davis sum it up using the first line of this song “I am clearly broken and I don’t know what to do”
Way too Far is next and brings in a couple new featured artists in 12th Planet and Flinch. Any hope I have of a change in style though I quickly dashed as the track starts with uninspiring mechanical effects and synth. Slow paced, effect heavy music and distorted vocals waste another few minutes of my life.
The final track is aptly named Bleeding Out (feat. Feed Me) and is scarily almost 5 minutes long. It actually starts with a musical instrument, a piano, for 8 seconds before effects kick the music to touch and take over. Sounding like a futuristic untrained android orchestra, the song is a melodramatic mess. Off time vocals over what may be a strimmer that then suddenly changes into the soundtrack to the video game Child of Eden. Add in a totally out of place bagpipe and what you have is probably the worst track on a terrible album.
There is actually a special edition that comes with two more tracks that I was unaware of but there is no way I can take any more of this.
The only thing this album can claim to have going for it is consistency in the dire quality of its output.
The biggest surprise is that with so many “artists” on this album no one realised how fucking bad it was before they agreed to release it.
Sounding more like an angry fax machine, this is the worst album I have ever listened to, made worse by the fact that it has come from a band that I held in high regard. This isn’t Korn. This is a side project that should be under a different band name. There is no musicianship on show, the lyrics are weak and every second of it makes me both sad and angry at the dramatic change. Do yourself a favour and don’t listen to it. Pretend they ended in 2010 or risk never being able to play any Korn song again without feeling sick.
Korn – The Path of Totality (Roadrunner Records)