TL;DR – Simone’s Sort Of Music Review is at the bottom of mine. If you want to skip down there and read it first, I don’t think I would blame you. In fact, I haven’t even read it yet, and am super eager to. So lets get on with it.
This month I wanted to review a Korn album. Personally, I think they don’t get enough praise for coming back from the brink. I mean, everyone remembers The Path of Totality, even if they don’t really want to… And after the very public break up of Head and Korn, they almost seemed to have lost their way. After all, how does a band credited with inventing an entirely new sub-genre of music ever top that?
The choice was between The Paradigm Shift and The Serenity of Suffering, and to be honest, I was leaning more towards Serenity. That is until Simone volunteered her help.
“I’ll write one for you!” she quipped excitedly.
“What album will you do it on?” I asked, my eyebrow raised, if I could raise my eyebrow.
“Album?” she balked, “I’ll do it on a Pink song!”
And the choice became clear. I needed to give her an album that was good as a stand alone album. The Paradigm Shift was chosen. Not to say Serenity isn’t a good album. Its an amazing album. I just think The Paradigm Shift is an easier album to get your teeth into as a non-heavy listener.
And now onto the review…
The Paradigm Shift was released in 2013, with Brian “Head” Welch’s return to the band and ‘the erasure of all dubstep influences’. Guitarist James “Munky” Shaffer said that he would be using completely new recording techniques and bassist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu claimed that they had written almost 30 songs, and only the best would be put onto this album. At the time, it was stated that musically, this was Korn’s best album. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Korn was back. they had found their path again. They had thought about their music and what they wanted to sound like. They literally got the band back together!
Its a fitting name for an album – the band changed their thinking on how to make music and this is the result. And aren’t we lucky that we get to hear it? Thinking about the history of Korn, what lead to this album, it almost seems inevitable that they had to take the path they did. The Serenity of Suffering built on this and is an exceptional album as well. And their 2019 album – of which there is only one song so far – is even better.
The album opens with Prey for Me and its a great return to form. Jonathan Davis is still dealing with his issues, and using that as inspiration for the lyrics. Kicking off with rhythmic drums leading the charge, the entire song is made to bang your head to. Korn have this ability to make a song flow, and this is a great example. Its not heavy in the traditional sense, and Korn always do a great job on the clean vocals. Every so often, you hear glimpses from their previous albums – the beat from Somebody Someone, the vocals from Take A Look In The Mirror, all mixed into something old and new.
Love & Meth is probably the second most famous song on this album. Some electronic music has managed to sneak in to this album after all. By the second song, you start to realize that while they have the Korn sound, they are missing the very distinguished sound of Fieldy’s slap bass playing.
Spike in my Veins is another song worth your time. Its a slower song, but not quite ballad level. And still, more electronic music manages to sneak in, but its done in a way that actually adds to the song and the feel of the lyrics, rather than just there because it sounds cool.
The most famous song on the album – Never Never – is almost a pop song. Its incredibly catchy and not too heavy for radio. I have heard people claim that this song is proof that Korn has sold out, but at the end of the day, they are doing what they want. I mean, this song goes completely dubstep two thirds of the way in for about 15 seconds in which you wonder what the heck is going on, but then comes back. I have a feeling it was added just to troll those who panned The Path of Totality. Not that I am saying that album should have been made…
A hidden favourite of mine from this album is Hater. Its just such a good song. And I don’t know why I like it. I suppose lyrically Davis is coming across as really genuine and honest. “You won’t ever bring me down” is repeated, which I think more people need to say to themselves.
I could spend more time on this album, but I know you are chomping at the bit for Simone’s take. The Paradigm Shift is an album that Korn needed to make, and its a great album from the titans of nu-metal. Like a launch pad, it allowed The Serenity of Suffering to be made, and The Nothing to come this year. I’d argue that this album – for Korn as a band – is as important as their 1994 self-titled debut in what it represented.
As someone who grew up on Korn, I just want the best for this band. And it looks like they got there.
So what do you think? Let me know on Twitter!
Now, onto Simone’s Sort Of Music Review!
Ready for the less sophisticated review? Here we go. Just imagine a really mischievous grin right now.
First ever music review and I’m reviewing metal (a genre that isn’t really my favourite) for an album I’ve never heard (true story). Listening to each song once, I couldn’t say a whole lot for the melody because I tend to need to know what ups and downs are coming before I have an opinion on whether that beat or tempo should or should not have happened.
I can say for certain that the drums are ace, making Prey For Me on of my favourite songs of the album.
Kyle will most likely disagree with everything I’m about to say. He knows metal, I know pop. Metal just all sounds the same to me… Hehe. Have I triggered you already?
I do, however, have one up on Kyle. Having seen and heard Brian “Head” Welch speak at Parachute Music Festival when I was 17. His story is incredible, and I recommend everyone do a bit of digging to find out about this guy’s life.
Disclaimer: I started getting very hungry not long after starting this review. You’ll probably pick up on where my tone changes. I apologize in advance for the lack of consistency in writing style, thoughts and mood for each and every song mentioned.
1. Prey for Me
My favourite title, my favourite beat. This song sounds like a hunt from the start, and I’m biased, but a love a powerful drumbeat. It brings the primal quality that this song really needs.
So, this song is about holding a grudge, and man… what a heartbreaker.
This bridge I’m quoting here really sums up what it’s like to be at your lowest, without the energy to fight off the negative unforgiving feelings. The sarcasm is all there, and then cracks, breaks until you realize nothing is right, so long as you keep unforgiveness in your heart.
Goodbye, so long
Which I could stay, but everything is all wrong
Goodbye, so long
Wish I could stay, but everything is all wrong
Everything is all wrong
Of the whole album, this was one of the most emotional.
2. Love & Meth
And now here’s a song about Brian Welch’s salvation. And again, it’s one of my favourites.
All the solace inside tears me up
It’s a strange thing that God’s solace can feel unfamiliar, yet so wonderful it breaks you down from the inside out. It overflows and you’re on you knees, not knowing what to do with it. Should you embrace it, or shrug it off to go back to living a life of familiarity, even though it’s empty and meaningless.
As I’m down on my knees, torn apart
3. What We Do
I tried; really, I did. But I have no idea what this song is about, and neither does the internet, apparently. You know when you meet a person, and you can tell by their honest rambling that they don’t get the chance to talk to someone who listens very often? This song feels like listening to one of those needy people. They flick between a million subjects and emotions, trying to cram everything into a wonderful short space of time.
4. Spike in my Veins
Now this one starts off like a pop song (sorry Kyle). In fact, I could see Zac Efron in my mind running around a golf field fist pumping and being uplifting.
You’re the one that pushes me all the time
Now, I’m a romantic, and this line just touches me and makes me feel things. Really, I’m not joking. At this point, I also go distracted looking for pictures of Zac Efron from High School Musical 2, but I got back on track pretty quickly.
“Spike in my Veins” sounds like drugs, and there’s even a bit in the middle of the song where it sounds like someone is tripping balls. I like the idea that someone can be on drugs and be super motivated to take on the world. Someone should write a HSM2 fanfiction about that.
5. Mass Hysteria
Now this song sounds familiar. Some part of my brain recognizes the super catchy repeat of “Mass Hysteria” lyrics playing over and over again. And funnily enough, it has a very science-fiction vibe to it. As you listen to the lyrics, you can almost feel like something deep is being pondered, but it isn’t deep space, that’s for sure.
We ride a dying star
Across a burning sea
We’re like a super nova now
The fire’s burning in me
I am 90% certain Korn is referring to the Big Bang in regards to “Mass Hysteria”. I imagine the angels in heaven had a grand ‘ol time as God was creating earth with bright lights and big bangs.
If Han Solo wrote a song about space, but didn’t know a whole lot about it, it might be this song. It’s a space adventure, sung by someone who knows a lot of space words, but doesn’t know what they mean.
6. Paranoid and Aroused
The song gave me such an intense feeling of an out-of-control party, I actually started sweating and I can only assume drugs are involved. How else can someone be paranoid and aroused at the same time? By the lyrics, however, I can only assume it’s a silent rave which definitely sounds like my kind of party.
Now nearer the end of the song, the following lines are screamed.
The bullshit I’m facing
My feelings I’m hating
Reality is failing
This shit is degrading!
I’mma just sit here with goosebumps.
7. Never Never
Now this one is interesting. It’s a love song; or actually, it’s an anti-love song; because it’s about the worst parts of a long-term relationship. Those times where you wonder if it’s all worth it. Where you’ve given all of yourself and aren’t getting anything back. Exhausted, you give up on loving.
No, I won’t ever have to pretend
Sometimes, love is a choice.
8. Punishment Time
You’ll laugh, but I’m utterly convinced this song was written by Batman and sung by Bane. The opening melody sounds like a superhero song, does it not?
The upbeat tempo, zany melody left my dizzy and it is by far the catchiest song on the album.
Well done, Batman
9. Lullaby for a Sadist
This song is brutally beautiful, painful and completely out of control. And it’s about sex. I’d hazard a guess and say it’s about rape, specifically.
You wanted to play, the coldness follows
This isn’t a game, your life I’ll swallow
And I can’t help but smile at your pain
The level of sadistic thoughts and feelings in this song are fascinating, and the melody has a certain quality to it that, when mixed with the lyrics, feels mentally unstable.
I’d love for this song to sound like a march; like something you can chant while walking down the street. But unfortunately, it doesn’t do much at all except sound like everything else. At one point, there’s a tinkle of a tune in the background that can hardly be heard. If these lonely notes were made more prominent, the song would sound amazing.
11. It’s All Wrong
Here, another one of my favourites. How many times have you finished a day, feeling like a failure of a Christian? And each day, you go through the same human motions and fail again, and again, and again.
How many times a day must I die?
Nothing’s gonna work today, I’m killing time
Looking all around to find a way, it’s all wrong
Knowing that my demon won, I’m done
The way the song flows feels monotonous, almost like you could play this once every day, stuck in a rut. It ends abruptly, like you could so easily just put it on repeat and let yourself wallow instead of mustering up the energy to change your situation. The deafening silence forces you to re-evaluate and start fresh, or you could just listen to the song again on repeat…
Now this is a song I can understand! Not necessarily relate to, but it’s clear and not as metaphorical as the others. I just wish the melody felt as uplifting as the lyrics.
You can’t bring me down
Already have my life turned upside down
I’m riding downward spiral round and round
But I keep flying, I keep fighting, you won’t ever bring me down
13. The Game is Over
This is a war song. A war song against the Enemy (Satan) except everyone is riding electronic guitars onto the battlefield.
I’m willing to die to see you fall
When last did we, as a human race care enough about something to die for it? It’s a powerful question and the answer will give you the meaning to life.
I am a threat to the opposition
I am no hero, I just have a vision
To terminate and restore this kingdom
The game is over, the game is over
This is the most uplifting song on the album. A strong song. One that makes you want to take your stupid, weak human body and pummel the devil with fists of fury. If God is for us, who can be against us?
14. Die Another Day
I’d love to end the album with a real hitter. But I couldn’t grasp at the meaning of this song no matter how hard I tried. It didn’t help that “Die Another Day” is one of those idioms that eludes me.
Misery often misleads
It creates things we cannot see
Excessive thoughts unbound, distorting reality
You know that movement where someone pretends to walk forwards, doesn’t, and then decides they will? It’s like a jerky movement forwards, like they’re trying to trick you. That’s what this song sounds like.
I’ve already apologized once, but again, I’m sorry for tearing this album apart. You’re asking a monkey to describe a UFO and he doesn’t understand English.
I tried my best.