Having first experienced KORN in a live setting during the Reckoning Day Tour with MEGADETH, FEAR FACTORY, and FLOTSAM & JETSAM in 1995, it’s somewhat hard to believe that the band has been infiltrating my ears and pummeling my speakers for over 16 years. During that time, the band has evolved, devolved, and faced it’s own identity crisis on more than one occasion. Following up the back-to-basics approach of KORN III: REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE comes THE PATH OF TOTALITY, a radical, genre-bending departure that arrives just over a year past their last effort.
Upon learning that KORN was back in the studio to work on an EP earlier this year, many anticipated a short blast of new tracks to quench listener thirst for new music during the normally-lengthy dry spell between albums. When it was revealed that plans for the EP were scrapped in favor of a dubstep-flavored reinvention, listener outcry could be heard throughout the internet – with this new-fangled “KornStep” being blasted before anyone ever heard a note.
What could’ve been a colossal disaster on-par with METALLICA’s ill-advised collaboration with LOU REED is the complete opposite – THE PATH OF TOTALITY rebuilds KORN into a sonic Darth Vader that’s more machine now, plugged-in and recharged as they move toward their third decade of existence.
While the wobble-wobble-crunch fits well with the traditionally bass-heavy KORN grooves that established the band as a trendsetter in the mid-90’s, ‘TOTALITY is not entirely a “dubstep” record. Much like the experimentation that encompassed their former tourmates in FEAR FACTORY some years back, ‘TOTALITY is infused with very industrial elements – recalling a time when KORN toured in support of KMFDM. “Electronica” might seem like a “trend-jumping” move, but KORN has been working along side it for a very long time. However, on the trend-jumping note, the tracks with SKRILLEX (aka Sonny Moore) are among the weaker, more “pop” numbers included in the lucky 13 compiled on the Special Edition.
My Wall and Illuminati (both featuring EXCISION, the latter feat. DOWNLINK as well) are just as infectious as they are dirty. Let’s Go (feat. NOISIA) and Way Too Far (feat. 12th PLANET) are among the more industrial – the latter of which features a great vocal melody from frontman Jonathan Davis on the choruses – offsetting the deliciously heavy death growl of the verses. It’s also worth noting that Davis’ vocals on ‘TOTALITY are, as a whole, the best performances he’s delivered in years. And… what do we have making an appearance on Bleeding Out? Bagpipes.
With it’s official release date not until December 6th, KORN proves that it’s not too late to deliver one of 2011’s most interesting albums – just in time to be carried in Santa’s bag of goodies.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars