Album review written by Lauren Rae
Ah, Korn. One of the integral factors to the soundtrack of my angsty youth. What’s been surprising to me is how much staying power these guys have had over the years, with lineup changes, controversy and personal troubles amongst all the band members galore. There have been a few occasions where upon learning that Korn was set to drop a new album, my first words were, “They’re still around?”
Granted, I’ve grown up quite a bit since my days as 16-year-old little gothybopper. But there’s always a place in my heart for those who leant a hand to shaping my current musical landscape. I still have some of their albums and a few songs have made their way onto my iPod. It had been a long while since I had listened to any new material by the quintet out of the cow fields and nothingness that is Bakersfield, California. (They really weren’t exaggerating about that.) So when I was given the opportunity to give The Paradigm Shift a go, I took it, curious to see if they had grown along with me.
To which, it’s a yes and also a very huge no.
Musically, there has been immense growth. I can still sort of hear bits of Korn of old; bass strings that rattle so hard you think they’re gonna pop off their neck, drum beats that can give you heart palpitations. But the key difference is maturation. They sound cleaner, more fluid, especially considering that original guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch is back with the band. I’m guessing going solo and having his own tour helped hone and develop a whole new sound. This much I enjoyed immensely. And therein lies the yes.
Lyrically, I wanted to rip my hair out. It’s like I’m still listening to Follow the Leader and Issues. And I expected that lead singer Jonathan Davis would have grown beyond songs like “Never Never”, “Prey For Me” or even “Spike In My Veins”, which all seem to channel his trademarked-but-overused formula of “I’m so broken inside but don’t cry for me even though I really wish you would!” Literally the only song that had potential to show his age and wisdom is “Mass Hysteria”.
Jon, sweetie, hunnie. We all know you have depression, and you had it rough as a kid. You made that abundantly clear, and I get it. I’m Bipolar, I deal with it every day, and I probably had a shitter childhood and adulthood than you. But at some point you’ve got to grow up, deal with your issues and get the hell over them. You can only use your damaged heart and mind material for so long before it becomes old hat.
But, not all is lost! And I’m not a total bitch for saying all this, because we can draw a positive out of this. While there may not be any growth with The Paradigm Shift, at least they’ll always have a core audience. After all, there will always be angry, whiny teenagers to cater to.