Sound — 8
Taking a cue from nameless classics like The Beatles White Album or even Metallica's Black Album, Korn decided to go the mysterious route and keep its 8th studio release untitled. It probably won't be considered as legendary as The Beatles' offering or as controversial as Metallica's Bob Rock-produced CD, but it does improve upon the band's last release. Vocalist Jonathan Davis was apparently a bit apprehensive about releasing some of the tracks due to their dance-oriented feel, but it's actually not as much of a departure as the singer makes out. There are more than a few moments of inspired creativity, but at times the song still tend to lack the originality of Follow The Leader. Korn is comprised of 3 main players for the time being (vocalist Jonathan Davis, guitarist James Munky Shaffer, and bassist Fieldy), with drummer David Randall Silveria on a brief hiatus until October of this year. It's obvious that the band is still exploring the world of electronica on the new record, but that doesn't mean they have nixed traditional drums altogether. Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion) and the legendary Terry Bozzio helped out on the latest album, and even Davis, who has played drums on selected songs on past albums, leant a hand with percussion. When the band does choose to utilize a traditional drum set, it absolutely injects more life into the album. The record begins with a hauntingly slow circus-like Intro, which makes for a very fascinating start to the album. The 2-minute long synth/piano track eventually builds with the addition of drums and soft cries in the background, all which ends rather abruptly. As soon as Intro ends, Starting Over takes over. It immediately picks up the pace and delivers one of the most memorable and melodic tracks on the CD. Davis' vocals go from falsetto to gritty in Starting Over, and it sets a great tone for the rest of the record. The 13-track CD (bonus edition includes 14) includes songs that range from extremely mellow (Hushabye) to raucous (Killer), and Korn does deserve credit for taking some chances. Davis was right about the album being slightly risky, particularly when you look at the number of tracks that veer off the metal-esque path they tread in its earlier records. The first half of the record is pretty solid, and it's not until the later tracks that things lag a bit. Do What They Say is a rather odd track, with an electronic-driven tempo that trudges along for most of the song. At times it almost feels like a Marilyn Manson track, but the moody vibe never feels quite that creepy. Munky's guitar lets out a giant wail for much of the song, which is a cool aspect of the song, but the melody of Do What They Say isn't interesting enough to be a truly successful venture. The track Ever Be directly follows, and fails to pick up the pace. Although there are a few solid rock tracks in the 2nd half of the CD, it's the first 5 or 6 songs that are the most impressive.
Lyrics — 8
Apparently Jonathan Davis still holds a bit of a grudge against former guitarist Brian Head Welch, who left in 2005 when he discovered religion. It's always impressive when musicians are honest about the meaning behind the lyrics, and Love And Luxury is one of 2 songs directly inspired by Welch's departure. Davis sings, You run it, so you best believe it; You sold it, now your soul perceives it; You wave a book but now agree with this; The damage of betrayal. While Love And Luxury and Ever Be are the only songs specifically directed to Welch, there's still no lack of aggression in the other songs. Davis takes aim at a souring relationship with the bluntly titled Bitch We Got A Problem. He sings, And you move in a hostile way; Like you're recently wounded; I reach for your wrists to feel the pulse; You're feeling yourself for both of us. While some of the music backing up the words doesn't quite deliver the same hostility, the album is right on target when Munky is delivering his distortion-heavy riffs.
Overall Impression — 8
Korn has returned with a pretty satisfying addition to its catalog with its latest untitled record, even though it does attempt to be an electronica album more than it needs to be. There are peaks and valleys along the way, with the majority of the first half filled with memorable, passionate Korn tracks. The band does try to slow things down with synth-heavy tracks, and that can still be heavy at times -- although not quite as interesting. When it comes down to it, Korn has always stood out because of the fact there is a lot going on with their earlier hits. When the band uses everything from Munky's wacky guitar sounds to Davis' morphing vocals, the end result never ceases to be engaging. While this latest untitled album probably won't attract quite as much attention as the earlier records, it still proves there is more life in Korn -- even with only 3 members.