The Path of Totality
05 December 2011
by George Fernandez
ARGH! Dubstep! It’s already taken over daytime radio and now it’s coming for our metal. At least they’ve come for Korn so maybe it’s not that harmful. After all, they haven’t made a truly great album since… since… Follow The Leader, perhaps? And that came out in 1998. Hmmm.
The reaction in March 2011 to the rough, 24-second clip of ‘Get Up’ with Skrillex was mixed, to say the least. Jonathan Davis was still singing about the same stuff but he’d found a new bandwagon. As ever, instead of jumping upon it, Davis was driving the damned thing for the band’s tenth album.
Talking about Korn’s back catalogue is one thing but the most important thing about the Bakersfield quartet is how they changed the face of metal in the mid-90s. With Ross Robinson at the helm, they brought in the chugging riffs and staccato vocals that heralded the dawn of nu-metal. Almost two decades later, they’re doing the same thing with The Path of Totality with the new producer du jour, Skrillex.
The album opens with Skrillex (AKA From First To Last’s Sonnie Moore) sounding like Chase & Status on ‘Chaos Lives in Everything’, before descending into Joanthan Davis scatting his awkward lyrics. It’s a good start. By no means is it the best song on the album, but it’s a good start.
Following on with the fabulously groovy ‘Kill Mercy’, which brings the nu metal to the fore reminding people just what Korn are about before ‘My Wall’ and ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ allow the dubstep to shine. Massive wobbling, slowed down beats and towering walls of scratched vinyl merged with Korn’s abrasive metal works incredibly well.
There are some tracks that work less well, of course. ‘Illuminati’ continues too far along the dubstep path and ‘Way Too Far’ is too dull in it’s slow tempo. It drags on slightly. Dubstep may well be a slowed down, over-bassed dance genre but it doesn’t mean it has to lack urgency. The album closer, ‘Bleeding Out’ unnecessarily incorporates Davis on those infernal bagpipes. Someone rip the bag, please.
The excellent siren calls and brilliant chorus melodies of ‘Burn The Obedient’ are nothing compared to the chilled out, melodic ‘Let’s Go’ and the album’s standout track, ‘Get Up’. It’s the song that inspired Korn to make a whole dubstep album and it just shines so much more brightly than any other song on here.
It’s a good album but due to every song featuring a different dance producer, it’s more of a collection of songs than a cohesive album and not every song in the collection deserves to be this record. Perhaps if Korn had stuck to the original idea of releasing a dubstep EP, The Path of Totality would have been 100 per cent excellence.
While you’re still left to pick and choose the finer moments off The Path of Totality, Korn have answered their detractors in fine fashion. The Path of Totality isn’t going to change the face of metal – Sonnie Moore has done that on his own in the meantime – but Korn have proven once again that they can be more innovative and relevant than the vast majority of young pretenders out there.
Sounds like: nu-nu-metal where Jon Davis is still really upset
Top tracks: Get Up, Let’s Go, Kill Mercy
Guitar solo rating: 0/6 – they persevere at the fatter end of the riff spectrum