Korn – The Path of Totality (2011)

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Music

When it came time to review Korn’s latest release The Path of Totality, the review was writing itself in my mind before the music even started…

“After a few good releases in the mid- and late-nineties (and a handful of mildly average releases since) Bakersfield, California’s Korn are back with their tenth studio album blah, blah, blah…

As leader’s of the American ‘nu-metal’ scene, the band has trudged along for almost two decades blah, blah blah…

Korn seems to have lost their way over the last few albums, as their nu-metal sound has slowly evolved into boring, unlistenable blah, blah, blah…”

And so on and so forth.

Korn has been pretty steady over the course of their career, but – for me – they haven’t really done anything innovative or cutting-edge in the metal scene since their 2002 Untouchables release. The band has, however, been able to maintain a very steady fan base and sell out arenas and festivals world-wide. But don’t tell that to the critics.

The band has been traveling a downward spiral from the analyst’s perspective for years, as review after review have scathed the band for resting on their laurels, failing to grow musically and leveling out as a band. I agree with most of this rhetoric, as Korn has become more of a disappointment and less of the driving force behind nu-metal they once were. Long gone are the days of “A.D.I.D.A.S.” and “Freak On A Leash,” but considering the band at least USED to be good, I gave the record the obligatory Nutwork listen.

Thirty seconds in, the only reaction I could come up with was “Holy fuck!”

Maybe the band finally listened to the critics, or came to the realization that they had become pretty stale. Whatever it was, Korn has simply changed the game again by creating an album filled with catchy hooks, strong lyrics, and – believe it or not – a heavy dubstep element.

That’s right. Dubstep.

The electronic/industrial/dance craze that is infecting today’s youth has found it’s way to the Korn camp, but before you accuse the band of cashing in on the latest trend in an attempt to regain relevancy, think it through. Jonathan Davis claims the band has been doing it all along.

“We were dubstep before there was dubstep” states Davis. “Tempos at 140 with half-time drums, huge bassed-out riffs. We used to bring out 120 subwoofers and line them across the whole front of the stage, 60 subs per side. We were all about the bass.”

The singer also praised the younger fans of his band for embracing their new sound, but hit out at ‘old-school metalheads’ who were being dismissive of it.

He added: “These kids are onto something completely innovative and new. It’s pure and awesome and underground and heavy and different, not like stale-ass metal and rock’n’roll. I love them all, but the old-school metalheads are not open to change.”

The frontman added that he felt a sense of pride that his band was bringing together dance and metal music and said he believes they’ve ‘opened up a new style’.

He added: “It’s really cool to see glow sticks at the show, to see dance music culture infiltrating and becoming one with the metal community. At the last show, there was one mosh pit where they were moshing, and another with kids doing glow stick tricks. They were taking turns and shit. I think we’ve opened up a new style that both sides are happy with.”

With the help of dubstep gurus Skrillex, Noisia, Downlink and others, the band have put together a potentially ground-breaking album yet again – filled with effects and dance beats that just may bring them back to the forefront of modern metal. You can’t really call it nu-metal anymore, but it is definitely ‘new.’

Something ‘outside-the-box’ was just what the band needed to stop the landslide, and while hardcore fans might be turned off by the sudden change, I find it energetic and refreshing. I also credit the band for taking the chance on something different. They knew from the get-go that they were bound to alienate a few fans along the way, yet decided to do it anyway – which is a reminder of the aggressive attitude the band once had, and appears to have found once again.

All of the tracks presented here have a undeniable freshness to them, but the real gems are those which involve Skrillex. As former frontman of rock band From First To Last, Skrillex (real name Sonny Moore) has turned his attention to producing some of the hottest (if not most recognizable) electronic and dubstep music in the world currently. His efforts here are outstanding, and blend the metal and electronic worlds together almost perfectly.

His contributions to the tracks “Chaos Lives In Everything,” Narcissistic Cannibal,” and “Get Up” take the album over the top, and are pounding dubstep anthems. Not far behind are the collaborations with longtime production team Noisia, who add a clean, vibrant electronic element to their tracks (my favorite being “Burn The Obedient”).

Where the album excels the best though is in the fact that it still is a Korn record. Beneath all the bleeps and bloops, the listener is still well aware of who exactly they are listening to. Davis’ voice is as haunting as ever, and there is no mistaking James “Munky” Shaffer’s guitars and Fieldy’s bass. If anything, the band is playing better than ever with a renewed spirit both musically and lyrically – both of which has been missing of late.

Apparently you CAN teach an old dog new tricks, and – regardless of what you read elsewhere – this pooch just got its bite back.


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. Fuels The Comedy (Bonus Track) (feat. Kill The Noise)
13. Tension (Bonus Track) (feat. Excision, Datsik and Downlink)

Buy at: Amazon

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