While I’ve never been a huge Korn fan, like most metal fans, I enjoyed listening to the band from time to time when I was in middle school and high school. And maybe it’s because I discovered “real” metal or that the band really has fallen off, but everything post Issues was pretty boring to me. So with Brian “Head” Welch returning to Korn, the band had my attention. Because there’s no denying that Head’s solo record and Love and Death’s debut were sick. It seemed obvious where the good songwriting had gone. So what would his return mean for Korn?
The Paradigm Shift is enjoyable. I’m not sure metal heads often refer to a record as enjoyable but listening to The Paradigm Shift is enjoyable. It also might be the bands most accessible work to date. Which again, fans probably don’t want to hear. But it’s some of the band’s catchiest work to date. The melodies are strong. Call it pop metal if you want, but it works. I think the catchiness of the album is what makes it the bands best work in fourteen years.
For those hoping that Korn will look a lot different from a lyrical perspective, you’re in for a shock. While two thirds of the band might be believers, Jonathan Davis is not.
Prey For Me showcases nicely the band’s strengths and as an album opener it grabs your attention. Solid riff to open the track the gets your head banging a little and you hear some of Fieldy’s classic bass slapping. But it’s the chorus that’s the key for the song. It’s a great catchy hook that instantly gets stuck in your head and the second time through the song, you’re singing along. While most people will gravitate to Davis’ line about being a shell of what he used to be and saying “no kidding”, I think they’re missing out on something special.
Love & Meth feels like it could’ve been on Love and Death’s debut record. It even sounds like Welch might have added some low growls on the song. What We Do adds some of the electronic dubstep elements that Korn had on their previous record. It’ll disappoint a lot of fans but it’s part of Korn’s identity and sound now and they weren’t just going to throw it out the window because Head is back. It’s not an offensive use of electronics. It’s pretty subtle and tastefully done. Paranoid and Aroused is as close as the band gets to an old school sound (and even then, it’s Issues old school).
A lot of people have kick Never Never around for being this super poppy track and being a bad choice for the band to unleash as their first single and I get that. It was disappointing to hear such a poppy track with a dubstep breakdown when you wanted to hear Blind part two. But it the context of the album, it’s not a bad song. Punishment Time has the heaviest riff on the album. The hook breaks into a great melody and gives the song a nice balance. (Another song that has some old school vibes)
The Paradigm Shift isn’t going to be what fans hoped for or wanted. It isn’t going to be the second coming of Life is Peachy or Follow the Leader. But it is damn good. Davis’ hooks have never been so catchy and I attribute that to Welch and Shaffer’s guitar work. It’s a strong album and if you listen to it with an open mind and put aside and hopes you have, you’ll find an album full of enjoyable songs.