By Ellen Eldridge
Korn came through Atlanta headlining for the Mayhem Festival in 2010, and again this fall to play Wild Bill’s. As soon as the opening track, “Chaos Lives in Everything,” started with its hi-hat beat and techno feel. Deeper into The Path of Totality the sound recalls Marilyn Manson and reminds me of David Bowie’s experimentation on Outside. When Bowie co-headlined with Nine Inch Nails fans actually walked out before Bowie and after Nine Inch Nails, pissing off those fans of both bands who genuinely appreciated the risks Bowie took in the name of reinvention.
Korn has released 210 studio albums now, so should we expect the same thing on number 10 as we heard previously? Granted, the change takes a few rotations to grow, but fans of Jonathan Davis’ voice will feel at home as his unique tone speaks for itself. Skrillex produced three of the dubstep tracks and “Burn the Obedient” starts with a sample that instantly recalls Rob Zombie’s work, while speaking to a metaphor of burning that which stays stagnant.
Can listeners unbalance themselves enough to accept metal mixed with electronic music? Not that the stretch feels unbearable in the wake of music from Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, and Manson did precede Korn as a headliner on the 2009 Mayhem Festival, so singer Jonathan Davis’s claim that The Path of Totality represents the future of metal may not be off base, but I believe this will mark a split for Korn fans. While Totality will certainly win new fans, it will entertain those fans of Korn who can get past the daring change. Truthfully, I like it. It’s not the same old cranked-out album as is found when a band puts out its tenth album. This feels more like an inspired drive off the paved road – in a minivan. Comfortable, angry Korn now screams from within the dark drum and bass tracks.