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KORN vocalist Jonathan Davis elaborated on the forthcoming LP: “Deep, within our Earth lives an extraordinary force. Very few are aware of the magnitude and significance of this place where good/evil, dark/light, bliss/torment,loss/gain and hope/despair all existas one- pulling at us every moment of our lives.It’s not something we can choose to navigate, but rather anawarenessof this ‘presence’ that surrounds us with every breath, as if we are being watched at every moment. It’s the place whereblack and white energiesattach themselves to our souls, and shape our emotion, choices, perspective and ultimately our very existence. There is amiraculous and small realm within this vortex and it’sthe only place where balance between these dynamic and polarizing forces exists-where the soul finds its refuge. Welcome to…..THE NOTHING.”
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Listen, I've been a Korn fan since Follow the Leader. The first song I ever heard from them was A.D.I.D.A.S. I was a young kid when they stormed the music scene and their dark, angry and incredibly heavy sound was perfect for my early to late teens years. I wouldn't say I was your typical angsty teen, but I was pretty angry and didn't have a taste for the more popular preppy crowd. They remained my favorite band for a long time, but eventually my music tastes began to shift towards a bit more melody driven sound.
Korn released their first album in 1994 and absolutely dominated the heavy music scene easily for a decade. Untouchables(while in retrospect is actually a great album) was a bit of a misstep, but they came back a year later with arguably my favorite album, Take a Look in the Mirror(2003). Korn had already gone through an evolution in sound by Issues, but had returned to a raw and heavy sound with Take a Look in the Mirror. Unfortunately the band began to suffer the effects of long term fame and money. Brian(Head) had enough of the dark and Meth filled life and became a born again Christian, leaving Korn behind.
One more album late, See You On The Other Side, things shifted further, including a drastic change in style and David(drummer) going on a hiatus. At this time I had began waning from Korn myself. I enjoyed the album, but there was definitely something missing. The music industry was changing and everyone was trying to survive the collapse of album sales. Untitled hit in 2007 and while the album was okay, it rang a bit hollow. They had used several session drummers and the sound was noticeably less heavy.
By the time Ray had joined, I didn't even bother buying Korn III(though I went back and grabbed it later because it was a good album), which was a return to the Self titled and Life is Peachy sound. The Path of Totality is what grabbed my attention back to Korn. Yes, I enjoyed that album a lot. Then the totally unexpected return of Brian Head Welch happened and I was blown away, it was legendary moment. Then with The Paradigm Shift hit, it was the first album in 10 years to feature both Munky and Head manning guitars together. It suddenly become clear what was missing from the band for all that time. Munky and Head are guitar brothers and both together are better than alone(though I applaud Munky for all those years being the solo guitarist).
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The Serenity of Suffering was Korns best album in my opinion(read my review) since Take a Look in the Mirror, so how does The Nothing stack up to their Renaissance? No wordy answers, it absolutely delivers! In fact, it picks up spiritually right where The Serenity of Suffering left off. Focus on heavy riffs between Munky, Head and Fieldy, highlighted by the intricate and fantastic drum beats of Ray. Jonathan sounds absolutely great on here as well, the lyrics delving even further into the darker side of psyche.
I compared The Serenity of Suffering to Korn finally reaching a perfect balance between Untouchables and Issues, fantastically heavy, yet polished and sleek sounding. With The Nothing, I would say that the flavor has absorbed more of that Follow the Leader and Life is Peachy, mixed with Issues. There is still an undeniable sleekness to the production, but the guitars certainly deliver that signature sound, often drifting to the thin high note strumming. The leads are great on here as well, keeping each song interesting. What can I say Munky and Head have done it again, a myriad of harsh, heavy and melodic leads, there is no sounds like these two together.
The rhythm section is also fantastic this album. Fieldy is often playing funky parts separate from the guitars, but when the guitars break into lead movements, he unquestionably supports the heavy riffing. There is plenty of the clack and slap, while also delivering clean finger work when needed. He is instrumental in elevating Korn's heaviness.
Ray, what can I say, he's a late comer to the band, but he absolutely fits in. While his drums aren't hip hop inspired, he makes up for it with energetic, yet intricate performances. His cymbal work is absolutely unique. He and Fieldy play off each other very well.
The music is absolutely fantastic on this album, but The Nothing is an ode to Jonathan's pain. In the opening track, you hear his sorrowful shouts behind the iconic bagpipes, he ever breaks down at the end into cries of pain. While all the members of Korn are instrumental in building the one of a kind sound, Jonathan cements it, as most great frontmen should. Jonathan manages to deliver some of the deepest and most pain filled performances of his career. That is saying something for a man who's signature is pain and emotion. The lyrics, while not as explicitly(cursing) expressed, are dark and deep, filled with despair. Honed over two decades of experience, his lyrics invade the darkest parts of your mind.
This may be the most painfully beautiful album they have made. Jonathan clearly suffered, with his lyrics and concepts maturing beyond that of just youthful pain. He's a man who has lived life and felt real pain. The band, Head, Munky, Fiedly and Ray PERFECTLY compliment that with their music. The Nothing is an absolute triumph of artistic expression. Jonathan leads the charge with his concept, often emotionally breaking down during the songs, the lyrics unimaginably deep. The instruments capture that and amplify and embody the pain, sorrow and rage.
Korn is 25 years in and still, they dominate what they do. If you are in a dark place and need an outlet, Korn is the conduit. If you are searching for uniqueness and heavy music, it doesn't matter this is their 13th album, it's a great place to start.
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The opening track blew me away, powerful, evocative and all that I hoped for - unfortunatly after that I found that I could have been listening to almost any other band.
This is just my opinion and I am shure many others may not agree - so give it a go, it's worth it just for track 1.