The Paradigm ShiftFeatured review by: UG Team, on october 18, 2013 6 of 10 people found this review helpful
Sound: Chug-chug, wob-wob, squee squash squirm. For one reason or another the strange sounds will ring long in the ears of Korn fans. Was a dubstep album, produced by Skrillex, Noisia and others, a brave step taken in good faith or was it an unmitigated disaster? We may never know, because all the chatter here and elsewhere has moved to the subject of Brian "Head" Welch's return. As UG readers will know all too well, the guitarist quit in 2005 to follow the path of Christ and raise his child away from the sex, drugs and greasy dreadlocks that came as part of life with Korn. It was a messy break-up (and his hair didn't get much cleaner) but with his daughter all grown up he felt the time was right to come back into the fold. And so we have it - "The Paradigm Shift" is the first Korn album for ten years to feature its founding guitarist.
Most will be relieved to hear that the dubstep experiment was just that, an experiment – "The Paradigm Shift" is a straightforward album of bumbling drop-tuned riffs and creepy atmospherics, just as Welch remembers it. Sadly, music has moved on in the 10 years since his last album and even in 2003 Korn were pushing their shelf-life, so the sounds are far from revelatory. Production is a major plus point, with a full metal arsenal filling the holes that Skrillex left in the mix and finally addressing the band's abusive relationship with snares. Electronic traces remain though, with "Never Never" and "Spike in My Veins" striking a particularly futuristic chord. "Prey for Me" makes good use of the meat and potatoes, a catchy chorus reinforced by hostile, elastic riffs. // 6
Lyrics: Jonathan Davis' trembling paranoia is an item of hard rock furniture. Often imitated (often, often imitated) but never fully replicated, he's been the cornerstone of Korn's identity through 20 years of other changes. His personal torment seems a little cliché these days, but he himself made it so by leading that strand of '90s counterculture. Every other word is "I" or "my," but like all the finest angst there's something greater being alluded to; on "The Paradigm Shift" it's the decline in public consciousness. // 7
Overall Impression: Korn fans will enjoy listening to a successful combination of their earliest successes and the redeeming features of their modern failures. Everyone else, it must be said, will be fairly nonplussed by "The Paradigm Shift," as it is neither a great triumph nor an amusing catastrophe. As nu metal continues to slide out of cultural consciousness and almost fully into the realm of diehards, one of its first and biggest stars is doing something right by serving the people who most want to listen. You won't need your mind changed by this. // 7
The Paradigm Shift
strataclysm, on october 31, 2013 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: To start with, lets take a moment to appreciate Brian "Head" Welch for returning to Korn, and bringing the guitar heavy Korn we used to know and love back to the people! Korn sound totally refreshed on this album and the mix is perfect. Its that classic Korn sound with a modern 2013 mix on it.
Ray Luzier's drumming on this album is heavy, tribal, and really gets your heart thumping! The rhythm section on this record is very tight and the driving force of most songs is the drums and bass. The drum mix itself is acoustically sound, the low end on the kit is captured very well and compliments the high crash of the symbols and sharp snare, and the tribally mids of the toms. The drums were recorded at NRG studios where Korn recorded their third album "Follow the Leader," and the acoustics of that room really compliment Fieldy's unique bass playing, and makes the drums one of the most impressive feats of the album. Listen to "Prey for Me" and "Paranoid and Aroused."
Brian "Head" Welch is not the only part of Korn that has returned for this album, Fieldy's unique slap and pop style of bass playing has returned on "The Paradigm Shift," from the fast, tribal, heavy "Prey for Me" that the album opens with, to the ballady but still heavy "Lullaby for a Sadist," to the epic, brutal "It's All Wrong" that the album finishes on. Fieldy has brought that funky low end back to Korn that all Korn purists love back to the sound. Listen to "What We Do."
Brian "Head" Welch's return to Korn has revitalised that old chemistry that the band had been lacking in previous releases (that's not to say that they weren't good albums, they were just different) and it feels like he never left at all. Head's ability to come up with quirky and sci-fi induced leads are something Korn fans have missed since "Untouchables" (he was on "Take a Look in the Mirror" but it was lacking) and it is comforting and awesome to hear that again. "Mass Hysteria" is a great track to listen to appreciate Head to.
James "Munky" Schaffer has shined on this album with his heavy and signature style of riffing, Munky has managed on his own for the last decade's worth of records and written some great riffs and songs along the way, but it is great to hear how Munky and Head compliment each others playing on this record, and they both bring something unique to the chemistry. Listen to "Love and Meth," "What We Do," and "Punishment Time" to hear this in action.
Jonathan Davis' vocals on this album are stellar! The albums opener "Prey for Me" starts very strong with JD's unique vocal delivery, his backing vocals as well singing "prey for me" over "Prey for me, I think I owe you an apology, Somehow you bring the violence out in me, I'm just a shell of what I used to be, Passion is sometimes a f--ked up thing for me" is cathartic to listen to, and the compression on the backing vocals help to compliment the lead vocals. JD's vocal performance is very strong and powerful on the album, his voice soars over the chorus's of songs like "Love and Meth" and "Mass Hysteria," the chorus's are all epic sounding and verses pounding and driving, great vocal performance. Listen to "Mass Hysteria" and "Lullaby for a Sadist."
The incorporation of Electro/Dubstep elements on this album had a lot of fans nervous after the release of the pop-esque first single "Never Never," but actually work to compliment the album much similarly to the use of hip-hop elements on early Korn albums (specifically Korn, "Life Is Peachy," and "Follow the Leader"), the use of Dubstep sounds are scattered throughout the record, in small segments, like "What We Do" and "Prey for Me." The only songs on the album that have a reliance on electro elements are "Never Never," and "Spike in My Veins," both of which still feature guitar, drums and bass. // 10
Lyrics: Jonathan Davis was not present in the recording process due to having an extended detox to rid his Xanax reliance, he has described his experience and memory of writing and recording as "cloudy" but the lyrics and delivery of them on the record are flawless and personal. The lyrics on this album sit perfectly across the music and compliment it immensely, as the music was written without Jonathan there, he has used each second of this record to full advantage and really done his part to add that Korn chemistry.
Some great lyrical moments on the album include the opening track's chorus "Prey for me, I think I owe you an apology, somehow you bring the violence out on me, I'm just a shell of what I used to be, passion is sometimes a fucked up thing for me" soars over the music and gets the adrenaline flowing, "Love and Meth" has a great growled pre-chorus that is signature Davis - "take me away, set me on fire, there's no other way," and possibly my favourite lyric on the album, is featured on a track titled "Lullaby for a Sadist" which was written and recorded in 2010 before "The Path of Totality" sessions, but reworked with Head in the mix, the lyric goes "1 I love hurting you, 2 I love your pain, 3 let's get together and play the sinners game, 4 is for the torture, 5 is for the shame, 'cause every time you want it I get off on this game." Another great and epic chorus is in "Mass Hysteria," Davis soars with "we ride a dying star, across a burning sea, we're like a supernova now, a fires burning in me, MASS HYSTERIA." // 9
Overall Impression: This record goes up there with the first 6 Korn records, and it's like Head never even left, the band sound revitalised and ready to tear down stadiums!
The most impressive songs on the record are "Prey for Me," "Love and Meth," "Spike in My Veins," "Mass Hysteria," "Lullaby for a Sadist," and "It's All Wrong," this album contains no filler tracks, each song stands out, these are just the highlights.
I love this album sonically, I love the instruments and vocals, I love the infused elements of Dubstep and the way they compliment the songs, and I love the overall sound and mix of the album, the only thing I didn't love at first was "Never Never," I don't hate it but a four chord dance track wasn't what I expected from a Korn single, and to this single I say "f--k that", it is far from the albums greatest moment, it would do well as a b-side or just an album track. A better single would have been "Prey for Me."
If it were stolen or lost, I would certainly buy it again, and I'd buy a back up copy. I suggest if you are considering buying the album (don't be a d-ck and download it, help the industry) that you get the Deluxe Edition because the bonus tracks "Wish I Wasn't Born Today" and "Tell Me What You Want" are killer! And the bonus DVD that details the recording process, and Head's reunion is pretty awesome to watch as an avid Korn fan. // 10
The Paradigm Shift
FRr3AkOnALEaSh, on november 01, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: It has been 10 years since Brian "Head" Welch left the band and people have progressively become more split with Korn's later albums. "SYOTOS" was the first album without Brian and people felt his absence. While Munky did a great job taking both roles on his own, there was a hole in their sound that never really went away. They tried to regain that sound with the album "Korn III: Remember Who You Are" and while it gained more love than their previous 2 albums, to me it felt a little forced. They tried to recreated something that was gone, it felt unnatural. That angst and pain they had in their first few albums was gone and even they said they're the happiest they've ever been. While I liked "SYOTOS," "Untitled" and somewhat "Remember Who You Are," I wasn't a massive fan of The Path of Totality. I enjoyed "Get Up!" and especially "Narcissistic Cannibal" but I really don't think that warranted an entire album. I respected what they were trying to do (And what they've always done) by trying something completely different, but it just didn't work for me. But now, Brian "Head" Welch is back for Korn's 11th studio album "The Paradigm Shift."
After the release of "Never Never" leaving a bad taste in my mouth, I was worried about how this album will compare. While the song kind of grew on me after multiple listening's, I couldn't imagine the entire album sounding like that now with Head in band, who has said himself that he doesn't really like the electronic sound. But thankfully, It isn't another rehash of "TPOT." The sound of this album has elements from older records. I got a big "Take a Look in the Mirror" and "Untouchables" vibe from the guitar sounds and vocals. This album has everything from bone-crushing riffs, bizarre tones, melodic choruses, electronic voicing and even ballads. It sounds so massive, which to me "SYOTOS," "Untitled" and "Korn III" were missing. To me Jonathan's voice is as good as ever, ranging from the disturbed and melodic, to powerful and booming. Let's have a look at each song:
01. "Prey for Me" - This song brings you in right from the beginning, letting you know right away Korn is back to it's original form. I really love the chorus and the lyrics that go along with it. While it's nothing too interesting, it's still a good start to the album.
02. "Love and Meth" - The 2nd song to be released early by Korn, getting the immediate attention of former disappointed fans. I love the pounding Intro riff. Jon's vocals are strong in this song too, especially the bridge part "Where do I run?!, Where do I hide?!" Overall a strong song.
03. "What We Do" - Not really a favourite of mine. Nothing really bad about it, just doesn't leave an impression on me. Although I must say the Bridge is awesome, a perfect example of the "Untouchables" style riff. Overall, doesn't do much for me.
04. "Spike in My Veins" - Originally written by Jon in his JDevil tour after "TPOT," very electronic oriented. After I heard this I thought I was going to dislike it, but surprisingly it's pretty good. To me the chorus sounds a lot like Celldweller, which to me is pretty awesome. I really like the verse, pre-chorus and chorus riffs in the song. Overall, a really different song from the album. Some might hate it, some will love it.
05. "Mass Hysteria" - By far my FAVOURITE song from the album, greatly due to the chorus. Sounds really similar to something that would be on "Untouchables." Jon's voice and lyrics in this are also great in this, some lyrics you usually wouldn't hear. Overall, something I'll be listening to for a long time.
06. "Paranoid and Aroused" - Another favourite of mine. A pretty unique opening with a great finish. The bridge sounds like something from an industrial/electronic rock band. Overall, a booming song.
07. "Never Never" - Now like I said earlier, this song grew on my a bit. I like the opening riff and vocals in the beginning of the chorus, but the whole "Never! Never! Never" really annoys me. The bridge sounds like a "TPOT" B-Side. Overall I don't HATE it, just a few elements keep me from really enjoying it.
08. "Punishment Time" - Another favourite. It opens and closes with a pounding riff. I like Jon's voice in the verse and bridge. It also shows Ray's aggressive side on the drums which reminds me a lot of David's drumming. Overall, another strong song.
09. "Lullaby for a Sadist" - A song with a few parts. Until the bridge, the song is very melodic and calming. The bridge however, a pretty dark part of the song, greatly due to Jon's voice. Overall, a good down-time in the album.
10. "Victimized" - A good song. It doesn't do too much for me compared to other songs on the album, but I still enjoy it. I like the bridge and outro. Overall, good but nothing I really go back and listen to.
11. "It's All Wrong" - Probably one of the most powerful intros on the album. Every part of the song with the exception of the bridge I enjoy. Some people might like that part, just doesn't fit for me. Overall, a great song to be played LOUD! // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics to me are usually hit and miss. Some songs sound pretty bland and repetitive (like "Never Never") but other times it can hold my interest (like in "Mass Hysteria") It seems to me he improved slightly in a few songs compared to other albums, but nothing really incredible. One thing I can say about Jon that I love, is his voice. It sounds so different to any other singer I've heard, with a wide variety of styles he can perform. Overall I think his lyrics can be a bit "egh..." from time to time, but nothing terrible. // 8
Overall Impression: People disappointed with Korn's work in the past 10 years should in theory, enjoy this album. It's a breath of fresh air from their previous 4 albums which had some mixed reactions. That former Korn sound is back and you know it as soon as the first track plays. As a whole I like the majority of the songs of the album and with the exception of maybe "Never Never," there really isn't a BAD song... While this album might not win over haters of this band, It should definitely please fans and those who disliked their last few albums. If this album were stolen or lost, I'd purchase it again immediately. // 9
The Paradigm Shift
animemetalhead, on october 31, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The album was stated to be a guitar heavy album, unlike Korn's last release, "The Path of Totality." And indeed it is, but not to the extent of cutting out the electronic influences of albums such as "Untouchables." I also love how the album doesn't sound nearly as forced as "Korn III." The band seems to be having fun playing with each other for the first time in a long time. Maybe Head's introduction back into the band? Who knows. But the sound quality is definitely greatly improved this time around. Unfortunately, like all Korn albums, the songs on the second half are the forgettable ones. But definitely a trip to the past for any Korn fan. Unfortunately, Fieldy's bass doesn't have the same tone it used to, which was one of my favorite draws to Korn back in the day. But that being said, he didn't get mixed out of the album completely. Overall, the album comes off guitar heavy, but not so much so that it gets stale. Jonathan's voice isn't as crisp as it used to be, but it still sets the mood for the band and there is no replacement. I wouldn't wanna hear Jonathan in Disturbed, and I wouldn't wanna hear Draiman in Korn, even though I love both bands. I'm glad that if they kept at least one constant throughout every album, it's the voice. In short, great sound and production quality throughout the entire album. // 8
Lyrics: Jonathan's lyrics have never been anything less than angst ridden, tear jerking, and brutally honest. The quality of said lyrics have declined in the past few years though, as the singer has run out of childhood memories to make songs about. That being said, I greatly enjoy the lyrical content of "The Paradigm Shift." It seemed like more thought went into it than the past 3 or 4 albums. There's no "Daddy" or "Freak on a Leash" on this album, but the lyrics are much better in my opinion than "Korn III," their last guitar heavy album, which seemed too forced to go back to the old school than was really necessary. Best lyrics in years by far. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, this album was worth getting on the day of release. Let's face it, Korn isn't the same band that they were on "Issues" or on "Life Is Peachy." The band has grown up and their lyrics and music reflect that. Instead of returning to albums past, the band kept progressing from where they left off with "Untitled" (before they tried to just please fans and forgot to please themselves). I would always rather a band progress with what they want to do than make a forced sounding album with old school sounds. And Korn definitely progressed to a good place with this album. I would highly recommend this album to fans old and new. From "Prey for Me" all the way to "It's All Wrong," this is one of the best albums of 2013. Don't miss it if you're a Korn fan. Please note that this is all based on first impressions. I've listened to the album once all the way through and will make a follow up review once I've listened to it a few times through. But I've been a fan for many years and feel that this was possibly the best first impression that any of their albums have given me since "Untouchables." Highly recommended. // 8