With a wide and storied career, Korn have been delivering their brand of low-end groove metal for twenty-five years, and, whilst some releases in the past may have been patchy or not as hard hitting, they’ve managed to capture some of their old energy with ‘The Nothing’.
Heavily influenced by the tragic passing of Deven Davis, frontman Jonathan Davis‘ wife, many of the tracks revolve around her untimely death, and by infusing new techniques and utilising the group’s trademark sound, ‘The Nothing’ finds itself closer to records like ‘Follow The Leader’ as opposed to ‘Untitled’.
Opening with ‘The End Begins’, a sombre and sincere tone is set with Davis navigating a climatic bagpipe build with raw and intimate sobbing. The unleashed emotion that’s displayed from the get go is found throughout the record, most notably in the final moments of later track, ‘Surrender To Failure’.
Not just an insight into the recent fragility of the group’s frontman, ‘The Nothing’ sees the band working with an energy and inspiration that was lacking from some of their latter day records, with tracks such as ‘Cold’ highlighting the band’s recaptured vigour and their willingness to integrate new techniques.
Taking on an industrial vibe, the aforementioned ‘Cold’ bursts with jagged guitars and bouncing bass lines, as Davis gives an impassioned performance. Eschewing scatted vocal lines with death metal growls, the track not only packs a punch, it also retains a melodic edge within its heavy layers and frantic pace.
The same can be said for ‘H@rd3r’, a track that pulverises the band’s own sound with a biting energy that hasn’t been uncovered since the early stages of their career. With guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch revisiting their signature sound with a determination to redefine its parameters.
Pushing their own boundaries may not always work within the quintet’s favour, but with tracks such as ‘This Loss’, which starts as a Korn-by-numbers crowd pleaser, it soon diverts into a slow paced creep that makes its dense riffs all the more impactful.
Granted, the record may be front-loaded, and there are moments where pacing suffers, but with cuts like ‘The Ringmaster’ picking up the energy on the disjointed second half, it still pushes towards the finish line.
A welcome addition to the catalogue for long-standing fans, ‘The Nothing’ proves to be a vital chapter in Korn‘s career, and one that sees them invigorated and stronger than they’ve been for years.