In this day and age, you can be Iron Maiden and churn out the same, relentlessly dull, repetitive facsimiles of your former glories (oooh, we might have to take some slack for that Harry! -ed) Or you can be Metallica and risk scathing derision by striking out boldly in new directions with left of centre collaborations.
And so Korn, after nine albums, found themselves the post-nu metal equivalent of Iron Maiden. Oh sure, there’s been the odd half-hearted, side-ways, experimental step but ‘See You On The Other Side’ notwithstanding, they’ve stuck to their tried-and-tested formula.
Where previously salvation arrived courtesy of their trademark stop-start riffage and perennially percussive bass lines, it was clear this could only ever provide a very temporary redemption. By the time 2008’s untitled album arrived, the distinctive sound of a train finally running out of steam was evident to anyone with ears. Boxed into a cul-de-sac by the template that originally made them massive, it was almost inevitable they’d eventually make ‘The Path Of Totality’. Or something very much like it.
On paper, given the funky edge to much of their oeuvre, collaborations with dubstep l’enfant terribles, Skrillex and the oh-so appropriately titled Noisia, seemed an inspired idea. Close enough, thematically, to work on a practical level but sufficiently different, musically, to provide exciting contrast – what could go wrong? Sadly, several things.
The abstract, often dissonant electronic howls, beeps and screeches typical of dubstep have here succeeded chiefly in hemming in the vocals to such an extent Davis often sounds like a prisoner screaming for release from a padlocked dungeon. Munky’s guitars, too, are often inaudible as they suffocate under the weight of so much digital noodling.
Some brief respite from the anguished din can be found during ‘Burn The Obedient’ and the bagpipes finally arriving like the thin red line to relieve the beleaguered troops of the preceding tracks during ‘Bleeding Out’ are to be welcomed.
In the main, though, ‘The Path Of Totality’ is a cloud in search of a silver lining and while the balls and vision required to pioneer such a departure are to be admired, the end results are far from edifying. Simply put, once the shudder-inducing, over-produced noise is stripped away, it’s clear that the songs simply aren’t there.
There will be many who hail ‘The Path Of Totality’ as a visionary and pioneering slab of anti-art but they will be wrong. This is Korn’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ (by Hans Christian Andersen) and beneath the shrieking beats and cacophonous electronica lays only a hollow heart.
For more information visit the official Korn website.