Music

Korn: The Path of Totality

Kudos to Korn for disappointing me; I am actually glad that my initial expectations were, unexpectedly, not met.


Korn

The Path of Totality

Label: Roadrunner
US Release Date: 2011-12-06
UK Release Date: 2011-12-05
Amazon
iTunes

Can I join in with the rest and coin a new sub-genre by calling this latest hate magnet of an album Kornstep? That sounds so korny, er, I mean corny. Wait, before y’all go "Oh, you’re just another one of those Korn-haters," let me tell you that I actually did enjoy listening to this record. As agonizing as the prospect of dubstep-influenced nü-metal might sound at first, it actually makes some sense in hindsight if you can see past the blinding layer of prejudice fabricated by the legion of Korn haters out there. Herd mentality at work here, people.

What do I mean by that? Well, nü-metal started off being an electronic and hip-hop influenced sub-genre of metal to begin with (think Slipknot, Papa Roach, and early Linkin Park), so it isn’t exactly extremely blasphemous to be spicing it up with dubstep, a type of electronic dance music. See? Electronic. So what about the "dance" part? I know the idea of crossing a sub-genre of contemporary dance music with an already much-hated-by-traditional-metalheads sub-genre of metal is very new and questionable, but since Korn are pioneers of nü-metal and nü-metal is mostly about catchy beats and electronic sound samples, I honestly don’t see a completely non-existent link between their older style and contemporary dance music. I mean, old and funky Korn numbers like "Evolution" (off their debut and self-titled album) and "Freak on a Leash" (off of Follow the Leader) do make me feel like dancing, albeit in a very slow and stoning manner. So what’s wrong with finally taking the jump and crossing it with a genre that has generally been proven to get bodies movin’ and groovin’ at clubs? While I don’t see a future that involves Kornstep phasing out current dance music and being the ubiquitous soundtrack of clubs everywhere, since Jonathan Davis’s vocals will most probably be considered to be a little too harsh for typical club music, the formula does seem to work pretty well and coherently so far. Even if you don’t like this record, you have got to admit that it doesn’t sound like an experiment gone wrong, which was the case with the infamous Morbid Angel industrial-death metal crossover disaster from this year as well.

Vocalist Jonathan Davis has mellowed down considerably by utilizing his brand of mid-paced, melancholic clean singing more frequently than his trademark funky rapping, and while this is a welcome move on his part for injecting more soul and emotion into Korn’s music, it is a wee bit excessively done. It’s like he compromised a vital element of nü-metal by thinking that rapping’s role of creating a sense of "catchiness" can be completely taken over by the cornucopia of electronic beats and synth effects instead. The most clearly heard instances of rapping on this album are in the opening song "Chaos Lives in Everything (feat. Skrillex)", and the two bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, "Fuels The Comedy (feat. Kill The Noise)" and "Tension (feat. Excision, Datsik and Downlink)", which means less than ¼ of the album sounds like old Korn with all that dubstep-inspired electronic sound effects wizardry, and more than ¾ of the album sounds like old Korn gone alternative metal plus all that dubstep-inspired electronic sound effects wizardry.

The catchiest tracks of this surprisingly good genre-crossover experiment are "My Wall (feat. Excision and Downlink)", "Narcissistic Cannibal (feat. Skrillex and Kill the Noise)", "Burn the Obedient (feat. Noisia)" and "Get Up! (feat. Skrillex)". While "My Wall (feat. Excision and Downlink)" and "Burn the Obedient (feat. Noisia)" bank on the reverberating bass and ear-pounding drum beats of dubstep to sound memorable, and "Get Up! (feat. Skrillex)" mainly depends on alternative metal-style clean singing to retrieve that lost strand of radio-friendly DNA in your ears’ genome map, it should be pointed out that "Narcissistic Cannibal (feat. Skrillex and Kill The Noise)" is the standout track amongst this group of standout tracks, as it is truly the best of both worlds -- its combination of the infectiously beaty sound of dubstep with the attractive sound of alternative metal-styled choruses just makes it simply irresistible.

Kudos to Korn for disappointing me; I am actually glad that my initial expectations were, unexpectedly, not met. Cruising through this delightful experiment is like having my head encased in a plasma globe, and I sure as hell am enjoying all those sinful little zaps of mainstream appeal.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Film

A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.

Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.