Korn "The Paradigm Shift" Album Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Fri, 27 Sep 2013 08:04:38
Korn's importance to modern rock music deserves to be much more pronounced than it is.
They didn't only spawn an entire genre, but they also provided the soundtrack for a whole generation. That generation might be one of the most transient in history. It was the last group of kids to exist in between the climax of grunge and the dawn of the Internet. Scarred by an abusive divorce-riddled culture where Family Values and long since been burned at the stake, "The Children of the Korn" found solace and even salvation in the sounds of Korn, Life is Peachy, Follow the Leader, Issues, and Untouchables. Those first five entries in the band's catalog solidified their status as the biggest band in rock—rightfully so, mind you. Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Five Finger Death Punch, and even the likes of Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and A Day to Remember all had the opportunity to rise because Korn made rock music "cool" again. Before Follow the Leader dropped in 1998, dance music had gain prominence once more—sound familiar—and pop more or less ruled. Korn changed that.
That brings us to The Paradigm Shift. The band's eleventh full-length album invades stores on October 8, and it has the power to exert a similar effect on the current landscape. Embracing the epic scope of Untouchables, the electro-future sadism of The Path of Totality, and the melodic maelstrom of Follow the Leader, it's a definitive album for the group. Those comparisons don't really do it justice though. It's the moments that matter.
Take the soft vocal break in the middle of "Prey For Me". The succinct sharp seven-string chug that James "Munky" Shaffer and Brian "Head" Welch pioneered subsides and Jonathan Davis croons a haunting and hypnotic bridge, "Goodbye, so long, wish I could stay but everything is all wrong". Then, it kicks into a full-on bass, drum, and guitar onslaught as he screams his heart out. It's classic Korn, but it's unlike anything they've ever done. That's the power of The Paradigm Shift. "Love and Meth" boasts one of their most sinisterly catchy hooks since "Here to Stay" as it's driven by the immortal riffing of those guitar masters. Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu and Ray Luzier lock into an impenetrable groove on the smoking "What We Do" and the expansive metal anthem "Mass Hysteria". You can easily picture festival fields from Ohio to Germany screaming "Mass Hysteria" along with Davis.
Another standout "Spike In My Veins" twists and turns around a winding guitar as Davis's voice sails from hell to heaven announcing, "You're the one that pushes me all the time", before impressive hitting his highest register yet. The chorus also reaches perfection with its controlled chaos. One of the creepiest intros in a long time "Paranoid and Aroused" slips into the psyche before engaging distorted assault and battery, while "Punishment Time" and "Lullaby for a Sadist" see the vocals and guitars entwining in hellish harmony like never before. Building off those electronic leanings "Victimized" simply scorches. Everything builds up to the swooping finale of "It's All Wrong", and it's an utterly poignant closer.
All in all, The Paradigm Shift will be remembered as Korn's best album since Follow the Leader and the rock record of 2013. It's their time again.
What's your favorite Korn song?
See Korn, Hollywood Undead, and Asking Alexandria all talk Family Values here!
Watch the "Prey For Me" Track-By-Track here!
Watch the "Victimized" Track-By-Track here!
Watch the "Spike In My Veins" Track By Track here!
See what Slipknot, Hollywood Undead, Asking Alexandria, Skrillex, and more have to say about Korn here!
See our exclusive retrospective on Follow the Leader here!
See our first reaction to The Paradigm Shift here!
See the band's first interview together about The Paradigm Shift here!
See our review of Rock on the Range here!