Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Record label: Roadrunner Records
Korn remembered who they were just in time to forget it all again on The Path of Totality, an unexpected left turn into dubstep and all manner of dark electronica from the kings of nu metal. Unexpected this move may be, but not unnatural. Korn always emphasized texture over riffs, so shifting from a gray guitar grind toward claustrophobic electronic collage doesn’t induce shock, apart from the shock that the album actually works.
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.
What do you do when you’re 10 albums into your career, sliding down festival bills and trying to bury the tag of creators of a genre you now despise? If you’re [a]Korn[/a], you Google ‘2011 music’ and rope in a bunch of DJs for a ‘dubstep’ album, of course. The results of this LP, which is basically a string of hook-ups with the likes of dubstep betrayer [b]Skrillex[/b], are predictably patchy, but when it works, like on club stomper ‘[b]Get Up![/b]’, it really works. Much as there’s no getting away from the fact that this is basically one long remix, it’s much better than the car crash we all predicted it would be.[i]Tom Goodwyn[/i] .
The news that nu-metal veterans Korn were teaming up with young dubstep and electro producers like Skrillex and Noisia provoked speculation that this could take the "worst album of the year" crown from the loathed Loutallica collaboration. Writers have been sharpening their knives: Korn are generally reviled by critics, and Skrillex has been widely blamed for the fratboy-friendly rise of "brostep." So it's with much music-nerd shame that I admit this isn't actually that bad. It's actually the best thing Korn have ever done.
The risky business of experimenting with a long-established sound can lead to alienating fans, being branded as “sellouts,” riding the coattails of a fad, and peddling to the lowest common denominator. Our question then becomes, “What amount of change is acceptable?” Korn, a veteran figurehead of the long-malnourished nu-metal movement, alternately attempted revitalizing its sound in 2010, only to discover a price to be paid for recycling old shit under a prior producer, plus a new member. Several critics were nice enough, yet we feel they can do better than high school graduates scrambling through tattered notebooks for a semblance of times long gone.
The Path Of Totality isn't just the title of Korn's tenth studio album, but also the title of an album released in May of this year by Brooklyn black-metal band Tombs. Since it formed nearly 20 years ago, Korn's never been bashful about its flat-out aping of musical styles, so why should we expect anything different when it comes to an album title? Well, we shouldn't. Perhaps we should also just shut up and accept that the opening track of Korn's album's called “Chaos Lives In Everything,” and the opening lyric of Tombs' Path Of Totality is “chaos reigns.
When presented with something like Korn's attempt at a 'dubstep' record I suppose the only appropriate response is to laugh, not least because its release has been accompanied with numerous lol-worthy statements from frontman Jonathan Davies. Admittedly, his claim that the band weren't interested in making “gay techno music” was the very definition of the Neanderthal knuckle dragging that typified the 'nu-metal' attitude, as was his take on the recession (" I wish everyone would shut the fuck up and have some fun. Every day I've got to hear about unemployment and people starving"), but his claims that the band had somehow managed to invent both nu metal and dubstep, as well as some completely new genre that he chose to call "future metal" (whatever that is), or his attacking his own fans for being "stuck in 1994? Absolutely hilarious; after all this is a band who found a fan-base solely by providing teenage boys with the opportunity to let off some steam, essentially being the aural equivalent of furious masturbation.
Review Summary: Korn IV: Forgetting who you areSo... (ahem)Are you ready??Perhaps I’m being just a little bit too cynical here, but I’m a little bit flummoxed that this ended up being the album to follow what was so obviously designed as a “return to roots” release as Korn’s third self-titled album. And I can honestly look back on that album and at least acknowledge that Korn were trying to do something extraordinary with that one; and while the end result was nothing more than a muddied and stale affair, at least they seemed to be trying.
Nu-metal founders take a wobble as they embrace dubstep. Alistair Lawrence 2011 There aren’t many bands who can claim to have invented a genre. Korn did just that, though, when their 1994 self-titled debut down-tuned heavy music and wore its vulnerability like an ugly but distinctive scar as it stared into the abyss. Nine albums and millions of record sales later, it’s unrealistic to ask that they stay the same angry young men.