Korn have been on a crusade since their incarnation 20 years ago and it seems that the nu-metal pioneers have never let up, never slowed down and never let their juggernaut of distortion run out of fuel.
That said, it took 7 albums before guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch decided that the beast that Korn had become was getting out of control and upon realisation of this took the decision to step off the tour bus permanently. 8 years later and Head has reunited with fellow bandmates Jonathan, Fieldy, Munky and drummer Ray Luzier (who replaced original member David Silvera in 2009). With 4 out of 5 of the band’s original members back together and Ray more than capable of delivering behind the kit, the expectation of the bands 12th offering had been deservedly high.
So does The Paradigm Shift represent a new dimension for the ever-evolving Korn sound or is it simple an attempt at regurgitating the earlier sounds of Issues or Follow The Leader?
Well the answer is somewhere brilliantly in between. The more you listen to The Paradigm Shift the more you realise that the title is so fitting for it’s purpose, this is Korn through and through in it’s sound and purpose yet it seems almost like a debut album in many ways too. All the original elements that made Korn iconic – clicking bass strings, heavy thunderous riffs that give way to twisted, sharp and chilling verses through Davis’ tormented vocals. Yet they have been stripped down, polished and reassembled with a few new electronic mod cons that the band has picked up in the more recent electro adventures (dubstep haters rejoice though – there’s no sounds of totality here).
Looking through the track list, there are clear signs of this new engine that Korn is running with. Take the band’s first release ‘Never Never’ where did that come from? It’s something completely fresh built out of the foundations of that meticulous Korn sound, it’s got a much lighter approach with a underlying cry that keeps it strong throughout.
Opening this new chapter is Pray for Me, it’s fair to say the title isn’t as original as the sound but it’s Korn through and through and it hits you right from the off. In case you were worried the rawness of the guitars had been sacrificed for this new sound, this track sets you straight. Love & Meth is something special and incorporates everything symbolic about a huge Korn track, much like Coming Undone, this is a must for future set lists and should provoke the sort of reaction you’d expect Here To Stay to get.
If you imagine a Venn diagram with the three tracks above in separate circles then the rest of the album’s tracks lay somewhere in the crossover segments. There are beating riffs laced with symphonies that allow for the usual guitar experimentation and wandering vocals to shine through the chorus’. Spike In My Veins is the second release from the album and continues on this new path and should also be received positively by Korn fans when it is aired on the festival circuit. Lullaby For A Sadist carries with it the tortured school yard feel that seeps through on tracks like Shoots & Ladders.
It’s no surprise that this is Korn’s 12th, top 10 album, a staggering achievement for any band and even more so given the line up changes and electronic experimentation. What The Paradigm Shift symbolises is as much of a rebirth as a shift towards a new paradigm from Korn.
The most exciting part about the album though has to be that this feels like a ‘safe’ approach to this new direction, with just 11 songs it’s a toe in the water of what Korn are now capable of offering through their collected experiences. It’s a bold claim but I think the follow up might just be something incredible, something unexpected and something that may just push Korn into those headlining spots that they’ve been in touching distance of for so long.
What do you think to Korn – The Paradigm Shift? Do you agree with our review?