Korn - The Path Of Totality
Korn haven't just gone leftfield with new record The Path Of Totality, they've taken a turn so sharp they're still nursing the whiplash. A sizable number of fans will immediately write off this album, too many without even hearing a note, for not being metal enough or too far removed from the band they fell in love with. But to discard a heavily experimental release so lightly can be a grievous error (see Linkin Park's last effort as a good example). However in this case there might be an argument for ignoring it after all.
More than ever, The Path Of Totality sounds like a Jonathan Davis solo album, with the other band members seemingly relegated to mere session musicians. For a band with seven string guitars at their heart, their appearance here is scarce to say the least, marginalised to the edge of hearing and playing the simplest of palm muted riffs. Even Fieldy's distinctive bass thwaps are largely absent, replaced by the huge wobbly American dubstep bass that dominates the record.
There are moments where it does sound more akin to the Korn of yore, such as the furious 'Narcissistic Cannibal', but even here everything is at threat of being drowned out by the overbearing electronic squeals courtesy of producers Skrillex and Kill The Noise. The verses of 'Way Too Far' see the band at their paranoid, introverted best, but the soaring chorus is ruined by the horrid beats and squidgy synth lines that have the air of a B-side remix.
So what, if just for a minute, we don't treat this as Korn's tenth effort, but a pure dubstep release by some unknown artist who has somehow managed to pull in some big names to help out? In truth, it is still a pretty flat record with little going for it; the majority of the tracks blur into one another in a haze of over-zealous digital mimicry, and outside of the noted exceptions illicit little excitement or even variation. The Path Of Totality is very much dubstep by numbers, the same formula and collection of clichéd ideas that offers nothing new or interesting.
The finale of 'Bleeding Out' does a good job of trying to redeem this hodgepodge of an album: the guitars have never sounded bigger or heavier on a Korn record, and the bass is back to full-on analogue rumble; even Feed Me's tampering has been kept to a minimum to allow the band's own sound to shine through. But remix album or solo record, bold move or messy mistake, The Path Of Totality is neither what Korn fans wanted nor a genuine game changer.