“Look everyone, Slipknot are releasing their first new album in 5 years.” I ain’t here for the same Slipknot over and over again, man. Now I know what you’re thinking… “Korn sound the same on every album anyway”. In my opinion, honestly listen to Korn & Slipknot’s material in comparison and tell me that Slipknot are more diverse than Korn. Also (as a contradiction to what I just said beforehand), don’t go spewing your opinion in disdain of something you personally don’t like. Keep that stuff to yourself. Speaking about talking to yourself, Jonathan Davis & co. are back with a concept album about loss ‘n stuff. Ya know, the usual lyrical norm for Korn. To be honest, the lyrical variation is definitely a weak point for Korn. However, the personal catharsis Jonathan Davis gets out of writing this style of lyrics is a good enough excuse. Give the guy a break, his mother and his wife died in the last year and a half.
On a less depressing note, or more depressing (‘cus, ya know, it’s a Korn album), Nu-metal in 2019 doesn’t get better this. The new album entitled “The Nothing” continues the upward climb set on 2013’s “The Paradigm Shift”, partly due to one of the main songwriters and original member Brian ‘Head’ Welch returning to the group after an 8-year absence from the band. 2016’s “The Serenity of Suffering” is widely considered by Korn fans alike for its return to the ‘classic’ sound of the band’s seminal 90’s hits. So, does “The Nothing” continue the upward climb? Or does it dare to defy the fans and explore new territory once again?
In a short-answer, a little bit of both. The first single, “You’ll Never Find Me”, told everyone that Korn was back in business and pulling no punches. The mid-section chant of “I’m lost, you’ll never find me” is eerily reminiscent to the chant in their first opus, “Blind”. Honestly, it is a little bit cringe-inducing, but a little bit of cheese doesn’t hurt anyone except for elitists (Yeah, I said it!) Really, the hype for me for “The Nothing” came with the second single, “Cold”. The way it begins with that tribal-esque pound, to the semi-skat section, the creepy and eerie verse section and that HEAVY-AS-FUCK PRE-CHORUS. Jesus Christ, I feel like putting that meme up from Archer the guy says “stop, I can only get so”… you know. Then the chorus, catchy as fuck. Exactly all the ingredients for an absolutely perfect Korn song. Then the bridge section comes in. Ugh, what a killjoy. The lazy-ass sliding-up-and-down riff triggers me so damn hard.
I digress, I don’t want to turn into one of those elitists I was talking about earlier. The momentum carried on with songs like the groovy “The Darkness Is Revealing”, chugging-yet-disco-esque “Idiosyncrasy” and the airy “Finally Free”. It seems that 7 tracks in, “The Nothing” has nothing to lose (bah dum tss). Then “Can You Hear Me” and “The Ringmaster” happen. “Can You Hear Me” just sort of repeats itself way too often and doesn’t even have a bridge (it sort of reminds me of “Never Never” from “The Paradigm Shift”, like almost exactly), and “The Ringmaster” is just a filler in an album’s worth of killers. They aren’t 2007-2012-era Korn bad, but they certainly don’t get you feeling pumped like the other tracks do. “The Gravity of Discomfort” finally picks the momentum up from a middling middle section, which then elevates to the brutal, Issues-esque “H@Rd3r” (which has blast beats thanks to drummer Ray Luzier!) and the monstrous-beast-of-a-final-opus “This Loss”. After what is supposed to be a ‘warm down’ (I’m not sure what to call it) in the 2-minute closer “Surrender to Failure”, “The Nothing” comes to an end.
So, what’s the verdict you ask? Well, I reckon this album would have been damn near album-of-the-decade worthy had they trimmed some of the fat off, as most bands have the need to do (I’m looking at you, Machine Head’s “Catharsis”). If the album had songs like “Surrender to Failure”, “The Ringmaster” and “Can You Hear Me” removed or put as B-sides/bonus tracks, the album would have been much stronger. Also, put that mid-album interlude “The Seduction of Indulgence” last, that’d be a creepy-as-fuck way to end an album.
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