Music Review: Korn- The Paradigm Shift


 

 

Finally! The album I have been waiting for is here. I absolutely loved Path of Totality, and I couldn’t wait to hear what the return of founding member Head would mean for the band. Let’s not waste time with flowery words; instead, let’s get down to brass tacks:

Prey For Me (5/5): A raucous start to the album heralding the return of a revitalized Korn. This song has it all: classic crunchy riffs, slap bass, phenomenal drumming, and powerful vocals. As if the high energy of this song wasn’t enough, Korn absolutely pummel your eardrums towards the end. Everything slows down, the bass raises the tension, and then Jonathan lets loose as he spews  vitriol in all directions. It’s the aural equivalent of a beat down.

Love & Meth (5/5): I’m certain people have heard this song by now. Prey for Me was just the meant to soften you up for the kill. This is the old school Korn fans have been clamoring for as it punches you in the gut. It’s a straightforward song, but it delivers on power. Jonathan’s vocals are soaring in the chorus, and I absolutely love the throaty screams mid way. I haven’t heard him go all out like this in a long time. This is one for the moshpits.

What We Do (5/5): This track is one of my personal favorites on the album because it has that Untouchables vibe to it (think of the song Blame). The song just refuses to slow down as it races towards its conclusion. I guarantee that the chorus will be stuck in your head, and so will the opening guitar. My favorite aspect of the song is the dark haunting background created around the chorus.

Spike In My Veins (4/5): Here is the first dubstep influenced track. It is slightly slower than the first 3 songs, but this is still very much a heavy rock song. The light electronics are merely in the background to add texture and atmosphere to the song. I suspect that the guitar build up before the chorus explodes is going to be a great live moment. At the same time , I don’t think many concert goers are ready for the heavy as fuck drops in the chorus. This is a song that’s meant to be enjoyed loud.

Mass Hysteria (5/5): I love the creepy guitar interplay between Head and Munky on this track. They pull out all the stops with their effects pedals. It also has one of my favorite choruses on the album, and it would feel right at home on Issues. This is a purely a headbanging tune that will have you shouting out “Mass Hysteria!!”

Paranoid & Aroused (5/5): This is my favorite on the album. It is dark and sexy with stellar guitar work. I really think this song belongs on a dancefloor and needs to be remixed. It is infectious with the best verses and chorus on the album. The twisted guitars remind me of Dead Bodies Everywhere. Again, this song has an electronic accompaniment, but it doesn’t overshadow the instruments. This has my vote to be the next single because it deserves to be heard. I can already imagine the video in my head.  One of Korn’s best songs to date.

Never Never (3/5): I won’t say much about this one since everyone has most likely heard it by now. It has by far the most electronics and is much softer than other tracks on the album . I personally don’t hate it because it’s catchy and very different from the tracks before it. People love to hate it, but I admire their willingness to experiment. Overall, it is a decent track that breaks up the monotony and keeps things interesting.

Punishment Time (3/5): This track was a disappointment. I hate hate hate the chorus. The verses and guitars sound dangerous, but the chorus lets the build up to fall flat on its face. It sounds like they glued on the chorus to another song here. The ending is harsh and heavy, but it only makes me think that this song doesn’t know where it is going. It’s an alright song with some great moments, but none that really stay with you.

Lullaby For A Sadist (3/5): I don’t know what to make of this song. I don’t know why it’s track number 9 when it would have served as a great closer for the album. It’s certainly very slow for a Korn song, but it has different levels to it. It’s probably their most “artistic” track as it shifts gears back and forth. The best part is towards the middle when Jonathan suddenly loses his mind (you’ll hear what I mean). It’s a good song with shades of songs like Shoot and Ladders and Daddy. 

Victimized (3/5): Again, this is classic Korn with shades of electronics. It has the tortured lyrics, screams and crunchy low tuned guitars. It has a nice groove to it, but nothing too special to say about it.

It’s All Wrong (5/5): Holy shit! I didn’t think Korn could go this heavy. This track is like being in the middle of a bombardment. It starts off quietly before launching into pure unbridled aggression. The band is truly on form here. In particular, the bass and drums on this song will cave your face in. It’s old school Korn all the way through. It’s a fantastic way to end the album because it leaves you wanting more.

Overall, this is the Korn album fans have been waiting for a long ass time. It builds on the success of Path of Totality and pushes the band’s sound even further. Of course, having Head back in the fold helps things a lot. Listeners will be able to tell right away that he is integral to the band’s sound.  It’s great to hear Head and Munky battling with their guitars again. Fieldy’s bass, which was lost on some of the previous albums, is also back to move things along. Jonathan’s vocals are, as always, a highlight, even if the lyrics at times can be sub par. I personally think the star of the album is Ray Luzier. His drumming on this album is just crazy good. Seriously, focus on the drums as you listen to this album. Is it their best album? Not quite. Then again, everyone has their favorite album from Korn, but it i certainly up there with Follow the Leader and Issues. I’m just happy to see my favorite band back together, enjoying themselves, and making great music again.

Final: 8/10

 

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Korn & Head Reunited On New Album!


I woke up to some fantastic news today over at Rolling Stone.

Korn have just announced that they are currently recording their new studio album with Head back on axe grinding duties!

This might not be important to you, but it is to me. I was bummed when Head left because I understood what an integral part he was to the sonic mechanism known as Korn. He was a quintessential member and his effects were duly felt upon his departure.

In the wake of his exit, Korn released some of their least inspired work, personally speaking. I refer to them collectively as the “recoil” albums – the products of a band trying to find its footing and recapture the passion and excitement that made them great. They finally broke through with The Path of Totality, which I thought was a fantastic album and a great evolution for the band and its sound. Still, something was missing…but no longer.

I grew up listening to the band since I was a teenager wallowing in the existential quandary known as high school. Their words and music gave voice to feelings which I didn’t know how to express. Through them, I was also introduced to a world of music I had never known. I’m sure there are many who feel the same way and have even more interesting stories to share about their relationship with Korn.

Watching Head’s return to Korn has been inspiring. I don’t personally agree with religion and his embracing of Christianity, but I can respect the change it brought about in him. I’ve been following his recovery, if you could call it that,  from when he left Korn to his work in India and starting his own band. I guess it was a journey he had to take to reconnect with himself and all that he held dear. As a band, Korn have been on a similar journey.

Who would have thought that at the end of their respective journeys their paths would collide once again? Well, I had always hoped he would return, and now the circle is complete. Welcome back, Head.

Here is one for old time’s sake:

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Music Review: Device



Positives

  • Stellar opening track. “You Think You Know” really sets the album up and defines what Device is all about.
  • David Draiman. His unique voice and incredible range are on exquisite display here. His performance outshines anything he has done before with Disturbed.
  • Tight musicianship with a sludgy aggro industrial sound. Geno Lenardo’s guitar work complements Draiman’s voice, and it all comes together as a dark aural assault.
  • Deep, creative and well written lyrics which tackle a variety of topics. It is some of Draiman’s best work. The lyrics are a massive step up from Asylum, which I thought had weak and forced lyrics trying too hard to be “dark”.
  • Lzzy Hale. She carries the classic “Close My Eyes Forever” to another level. Lita Ford who? One of the highlights of the entire album. Make it a single and a video.

Negatives

  • At times it’s hard to differentiate Device from Disturbed. It’s different, but Draiman’s voice is so entwined with the mammoth Disturbed that it’s hard to not make the connection. Songs like Penance and Hunted would feel right at home on a Disturbed album. It keeps Device from forming its own identity. 
  • Too short. Ten songs is not enough and they should have left the bonus tracks on the album.
  • It’s not as unique, industrial or special as it was originally made to sound. Also, the songs can start to sound a little similar. I would have liked to have seen more experiments within the album. For example, Haze is a cool track which  has a nihilistic industrial-esque groove. More experiments like that would have made the album a little more exciting.
  • Not all the guests pull it off. Lzzy Hale and M. Shadows do a very good job. Serj Tankian is irritating with his constant high pitched ” ah-ah-aaaahhhs”. Tom Morello doesn’t make much of an impact either, and his guitar work on the album is tame compared to his fiery performances with Rage Against The Machine.
  • Performers such as Rob Zombie, John 5, Manson, Jon Davis, Corey Taylor and Cantrell would have been worthy additions. Hell, Trent Reznor, Richard Patrick and Al Jourgensen could have created something special for all the industrial leanings of the album and made Device a full fledged machine. Well, at least there is a good list for the second Device album.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5

Stream the album here & here

Buy the album here & here

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Sevendust – Black Out The Sun Review


Sevendust return with a mixed bag of tunes for their ninth album. As a fan of the band, I was looking forward to this album since I burned my copy of Cold Day Memory to a cinder from repeated playbacks. The Atlanta bred quintet are clearly on point with Black Out The Sun, but the new cuts still leaves a little something to be desired.

I’ve been a fan of the band since I saw them at Woodstock as a young’un.  More importantly, I’ve seen this band go through hell and back to emerge victorious on the other side (Clint leaving, money troubles, lawsuits, labels…). In fact, other than Chapter VII (yuck!) I’ve always enjoyed the patented Sevendust “heavy groove + screams+ melody+soulful” vocals formula. I respect the band tremendously and think they don’t get the credit they deserve. Hell, how many bands from the nineties are still kicking it like the old days? Maybe that’s a good thing because it keep them “real”, which is what fans such as myself admire about them. They remain true to themselves and their craft.  Personally, I considered Cold Day Memory as a comeback album which promised a revitalized Sevendust. Having said that, I would rank this as one of their weaker efforts.

First Half

The album attacks from the front with the double punch of Faithless and Till Death. At this point it feels like the darker sequel to Cold Day Memory. I suspect Till Death will become a moshing favorite with Clint, Morgan and Lajon trading vocals all over the place, while the rest of the band keeps things tight with frenetic instrument work. It has a very old school Home vibe to it. In particular, pay attention to the drumming on this song because Morgan pulls out all the stops like he grew an extra set of  arms to play some of the parts.

Suddenly, the album shifts into a very groovy, bass-heavy and cocky tune infused with a little southern hospitality. I dig it. Mountain is the band’s declaration to the world that they are alive and kicking while many others have fallen. I would push it to be the second single off the album. Cold As War turned out to be the first weak tune of the album. It isn’t very exciting and sounds like a rehashed ballad off Chapter VII. There is some very good guitar work, but it doesn’t elevate the tune and feels forced.

The title track is Sevendust at the top of their ‘effin game! This is the formula I spoke of earlier. This is an inspired song with passionate lyrics. As Lajon raises his voice to new heights, the rest of the band is busy drowning you in the emotive musicianship that is Sevendust’s trademark. An outstanding song on every level.

Second Half

Nobody Wants It is an average song and propels the album into the second half. It has a catchy chorus with a driving beat that percolates throughout the song. Unfortunately, everything surrounding that isn’t very inspiring. Dead Roses is an interesting fast paced song. Initially I thought it was more filler, but it grew on me. The solo late in the song is well devised and the song really benefits from it. It’s a different approach for the band and it works well enough to be one of the standout tracks on the album.

Most people have probably heard Decay by now. It’s the heaviest and darkest song on the album and it borrows influences from Animosity and Home. I would call it one of their better singles, but it isn’t totally representative of the album as a whole. This is very noticeable on Dark AM and Picture Perfect. By far, these are the most underwhelming tracks on the album. The former has infectious verses but falters in the chorus. The latter has a beautifully orchestrated chorus accompanied by weak verses. They aren’t terrible by any stretch, but they didn’t impact me like the songs in the first half.

Got A Feeling rescues the album and brings the band back to revisit their acoustic skills. It’s an incredibly memorable song with hair-raising melody as it ebbs and flows through different emotions. The manner in which it shifts gears has a classic rock vibe to it and catches Sevendust at their introspective best.   The final track is Murder Bar and I don’t understand why they chose to put this as the closer. Ending the album with Got A Feeling would have been a better idea. Still, Murder Bar is a solid song with a very interesting stop-go and almost staccato rhythm. I felt it would have made a superb opening song because it feels odd to hear it follow the fantiastic Got A Feeling.

Final Verdict

Overall, the album is a mix of everything Sevendust has accomplished up to this point in their career. The band has a formula and doesn’t stray too far from it. That’s completely fine because Sevendust has nothing to prove. They’ve been around a long-ass time and I would place them among the elite of their genre. Nevertheless, I was a little disappointed with this album because that same formula led to a few stale tunes on this album. Of course, that might not be true for everyone because there is a lot to like across the album. The first-half is truly stellar and the entire album is brimming with excellent musicianship and standout moments. In closing, buy the album and catch the band on tour this year. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 3.5/5

Buy on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/black-out-the-sun/id596121821

Buy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Out-The-Sun-Sevendust/dp/B00B1I1BE4

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New Music: March & April Edition (Part 2)


1. Device – Device

Since the mighty Disturbed are taking an extended break, David Draiman created Device. With the help of Gene Lenardo (Filter), they created a darker project with an industrial tinge and an envious line-up of guests from rock’s. elite.

The album drops April 9th: http://smarturl.it/deviceitunes

2. Sevendust – Black Out The Sun

One of the longest running and hardest working bands out there. A consistently professional band that never fails to impress. Black Out The Sun promises to continue that trend as the band sounds fresh and energized. It is Sevendust at their purest and most alive with a wicked mix of melody and riff-charged brutality.

The album is out March 26: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/sevendust/id13125174

3. Stone Sour- House of Gold & Bones: Part 2

The follow up and conclusion to the excellent Part 1 is finally upon us. Stone Sour prove that they are expert storytellers and musicians as they push themselves further than ever before. Threads from the first album will tie into the grander scope of this sequel and the tapestry will be completed. This one promises to be a scorcher and it will not disappoint.

The album is expected April 9th : https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/house-of-gold-bones-part-2/id598737461

4. David Bowie – The Next Day

The king has returned. The great David Bowie returns with his first new album in a decade! It’s been a long wait and the reviews for this album are stellar. The man has influenced just about anyone involved with music and art. Hell, he’s done just about anything and everything.  BBC Music said that the album was “a triumphant, almost defiant, return. Innovative, dark, bold and creative, it’s an album only David Bowie could make.” That sounds about right.

The album is out NOW! http://store.davidbowie.com/