Korn – The Nothing review

Recommended listening for under a full moon, on Friday the thirteenth. (Or at any other time) 9/10 Korn colour band photo.
The stars have aligned, it’s Friday the thirteenth and a new Korn album has landed. Their thirteenth studio album in fact. It is also a full moon, the Harvest moon, in Europe the Barley moon or for indigenous Americans the Corn moon!

Taking the name of the seemingly unstoppable, all-devouring, malevolent force from The Neverending Story; The Nothing is the manifestation of the loss of hope and dreams.  There is a prevailing darkness, which harks back to their debut a quarter of a century ago. But this is not simply a callback to the past, this is the reflection of a far more mature band with far greater experience and hurts. Vocalist Jonathan Davis has stated

Deep, within our Earth lives an extraordinary force. Very few are aware of the magnitude and significance of this place where good/evil, dark/light, bliss/torment, loss/gain and hope/despair all exist as one- pulling at us every moment of our lives. It’s not something we can choose to navigate, but rather an awareness of this ‘presence’ that surrounds us with every breath, as if we are being watched at every moment.  It’s the place where black and white energies attach themselves to our souls, and shape our emotion, choices, perspective and ultimately our very existence.  There is a miraculous and small realm within this vortex and it’s the only place where balance between these dynamic and polarising forces exists -where the soul finds its refuge. Welcome to…..The Nothing.”

Opening with bagpipes and a somewhat more melancholic ambience than anticipated, The End Begins with its primal wailing and raw emotion truly captures the visceral release of Davis. From the almost ethereal pipes into which he breathes life to the coarse, organic discharge of torment as the track builds and lament escapes.

Cold is heavy, almost approaching a death funk with a depth of vocal and riffage layering  which contrasts starkly with the melodic and upbeat moments. There are hints of EDM, but not to the extent of The Path of Totality. Whether you embrace the cold or not; there is always the dichotomy of pleasure and pain.

Album lead single, You’ll Never Find Me is an emotionally engaging, somewhat almost grunge tinged grooving behemoth of a track. ‘I’m lost, you’ll never find me’ Davis howls, with an almost pleading desperation. Self-sabotage, the admission that ‘I’m not doing fine’ despite the support of  a strong backbone of guitarwork and a pounding rhythm, there is an uneasiness and  an intrinsic sense of longing  for change  in the hopelessness.

If you have not yet heard it, check it out here

The Darkness Is Revealing is emotive, without being emo and deliciously discordant with the traditional Korn contradictory anthemic uplift.  Idiosyncrasy channels all eras and aspects of the band, but with a more sinister and cyclical spin. Embracing so many genres in one number, does not seem plausible for such an engaging and coherent song.

The Seduction of Indulgence forms a brief, disorienting intermission of creaking, creeping dread with harrowing elements. The hopelessness of falling into the dual embrace of the twins desire and despair. The familiar, yet never sweet suffocation of depression can become an addiction, a reassurance when gripped in the unforgiving grasp of depression. Not all addictions involve substance abuse.

Finally Free is almost cinematic in its soundscapes, from an euphoric verse into an unanticipated burst of funk and sublime breakdowns. Jubilant, but heavy with loss and regret; this truly is a masterfully moving number. Can You Hear Me released last week, is also the visualizer for the upcoming The Nothing podcast.  In which the screenwrwiters Adam Mason and Simon Boyes tell the story of a small town in Kansas and a charismatic, commune leader. Set in six episodes, with a score by  Davis and scheduled to arrive October 2019, you can sign up here
Check out the  visualizer here

 The Ringmaster brings a heavy, progressive jazz menace for this trickster. Gravity Of Discomfort is a mid-paced sing heavy with claustrophobic elements.  H@rd3r brings a twisted, desperate, groove. Disorienting, yet danceable.  Hinting towards angsty teenager playfulness in a new nu-metal bombast.

This Loss with its crawling trepidation, guttural vocal lines and contrasting harmonies, is a surprising earworm, followed by the majestically pained Surrender To Failure.

Heavy, but not as heavy as 2016’s Serenity of Suffering, this is unmistakably Korn, but they have evolved. Their sound is still their own, the production is excellent despite the pervasion of darkness and gloom it is never overbearing. Impressive.

The Nothing is out now and can be purchased here

  1. The End Begins
  2. Cold
  3. You’ll Never Find Me
  4. The Darkness Is Revealing
  5. Idiosyncrasy
  6. The Seduction of Indulgence
  7. Finally Free
  8. Can You Hear Me
  9. The Ringmaster
  10. Gravity Of Discomfort
  11. H@rd3r
  12. This Loss
  13. Surrender To Failure

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