Korn

The Path Of Totality

01. Chaos Lives In Everything (feat. Skrillex)
02. Kill Mercy Within (feat. Noisia)
03. My Wall (feat. Excision and Downlink)
04. Narcissistic Cannibal (feat. Skrillex and Kill the Noise)
05. Illuminati (feat. Excision and Downlink)
06. Burn the Obedient (feat. Noisia)
07. Sanctuary (feat. Downlink)
08. Let’s Go (feat. Noisia)
09. Get Up! (feat. Skrillex)
10. Way Too Far (feat. 12th Planet)
11. Bleeding Out (feat. Feed Me)

[12/03/11]
[Roadrunner Records]

Most of you should probably not even bother reading this review any further; Korn are a fairly polarizing band in the metal community, and many of you have made up your minds about them a decade or more ago. If you hate them to your core, this review isn’t likely to change your mind and will only serve as cannon fodder for allegations of how absolutely false I am. I get it, man. The idea of Korn and Limp Bizkit putting out better albums that Morbid Angel and Metallica must have asses chapped across the metalverse. Well, here we are. 2011’s been weird, huh?

For those new to the site, I grew up on Korn in the 90s. They’re one of the reasons I eventually wound up getting into heavier music than what was regularly played on the radio, so I’ll always hold a place for them in my heart. It must be a generational thing. The dudes of Metalsucks have a soft spot for hair metal like Motley Crue because of their musical environment growing up in the 80s, and how I can’t stand this new-fangled crabcore scenebro thing that’s going on. It makes sense when you think about it, but I’m starting to digress.

As you may recall, I wasn’t too fond of Korn III. I felt that after a career full of unique albums that differed from the last that eventually landed them into the realm of more relatively experimental industrial-tinged rock, a “return to roots” was a bad idea. I prided Korn as a band who never made the same album twice, and when they finally tried to, it just felt forced, and I just wasn’t feeling it. A huge bummer was had, and it was the first Korn album I heard since becoming a fan that has disappointed me. Yes, I loved Untitled. I don’t know why; no one else seems to enjoy it as much as I did.

So you could imagine my surprise when Korn announced a dubstep collaboration record. I didn’t know what to think of it, as it could have very well been the sign of a death knell of a band on their last legs of creativity, cashing in on a new trend of music. On the other hand, Korn have always been a sort of musical sponge, becoming a product of their environment at the time. They’ve including aspects of grunge, rap, and industrial throughout their career, which was something that was certainly a drawing point to the band when I first became familiar with them. They were musically diverse, and I was never bored as each new release had something new to offer. This very spirit is what makes this new Korn record, The Path of Totality, a personal redemption after Korn III‘s flop.

On The Path of Totality, Korn commissioned the help of an array of dubstep artists, including Datsik, Kill the Noise, Noisia, Excision, Downlink, and the most prolific popular of them all, Skrillex, a self-proclaimed Korn fan. What surprised me the most about the record is that, despite the array of guest artists that appear on each track, this still feels very much like a Korn record. The riffs, the sense of melody, everything—it all sounds very Korn-esque, which leads me to believe that this was a true collaboration from both parties instead of a parade of dubstep artists that happened to feature Jonathan Davis.

To put it into perspective, The Path of Totality sounds like it would be very much in place following 2002’s Untouchables. The overall synth-laden and industrial vibe of the records compliment each other well, which brought me a sense of nostalgia upon initial listens. I’m not even a fan of dubstep, but there’s something about Korn’s riffs matched with huge distorted synth sounds and Jonathan Davis’ haunting choruses that just feels natural, as if Korn should have been doing this sort of thing years ago. It works for them, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this progression is better for them than attempting another retread.

However, it’s obvious that this record isn’t flawless. Hell, it’s barely even great by my standards. The biggest problem with The Path of Totality is also one of the biggest problems from Korn III, and that lies in Jonathan Davis’ lyrics. Unless you’re a disaffected thirteen year old, much of these lyrics just will not speak to you. Despite how much I enjoy the opening track “Chaos Lives In Everything,” lyrics like “I’m gonna rape you” and use of the word “bitch” is just juvenile. I’m sure it all makes sense in whatever context Jonathan Davis intended, but it’s just embarrassing, making this a somewhat guilty pleasure. Don’t even bother with the bonus tracks, either—usually Korn bonus tracks are potentially better than the songs on the record, but not this time. Jonathan, most Korn fans have grown up by now, and you’re not as likely to pick up new young fans like you used to. Growing up with your fanbase will make you a legitimate force in hard rock again, I guarantee you.

Spotty lyricism aside, there’s not much offensive at all about The Path of Totality. If you place emphasis in only the music aspects of the record, it actually ranges from decent to quite good on a per-track basis. Much like how Korn foreshadowed the nu-metal trend in the 90s, I think it isn’t unlikely that The Path of Totality could spark a new wave of dubstep-infused rock if this sees enough success. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, anyway. The Path Of Totality isn’t bad at all, and if you’re open minded enough and let your guard down, it’s totally enjoyable.

Korn – The Path of Totality gets…

3.5/5

– JR

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