The Paradigm didn’t Shift in the right direction

The Paradigm didnt Shift in the right direction

Sean Pruett-Jones, Staff Reporter

Whether or not you like The Paradigm Shift is more a matter of perspective – if you love Korn to death, you’ll like it.  If you don’t, you won’t.  It serves to return to some old styles, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t save an album by a band that’s always been very controversial. Consistently liking Korn requires some weird and flexible tastes, because they’ve been left, right, up, down, and everything in between.  I love Freak On A Leash. I love See You on the Other Side. Their original bassist has returned for this album, signifying a switch back to their earlier styles.  For someone more familiar with Korn than I am, The Paradigm Shift may seem like a godsend after their latest screw-ball The Path of Totality.  Still, it can’t be ignored that this album is very, very weak.

Oh how I wish I could have liked this album.  Oh me oh my, did I try.  I was able to wean some enjoyment out of a few parts here and there, don’t get me wrong  – a halfway decent introduction on “Prey On Me”, a nice melodious bridge on “What We Do”, the foot-tapping “Mass Hysteria”… most of the individual parts of The Paradigm Shift aren’t half bad.  Say what you want about Jonathan Davis, but he does have a great voice, and the bassist’s return is noticeable and enjoyable.  Yet, it almost seems like they were more focused on sating the audiences craving for the older Korn than they were on creating something great, or even any good.  The nostalgia effect will kick in for some people, and they’ll lap all the songs up, but to someone who isn’t a die-hard fan of the band, songs are repetitive and boring, with very little going on to try and keep the audience hooked.

It’s a staple of Korn’s music to have a grotesquely unique sound, one that’s intriguing yet more than a little disturbing, (hence “Freak on a Leash” or “Twist”) and it’s clear how they tried to go for that here – songs “Love and Meth” and “Punishment Time” just reek with it.  I feel like I’m listening to a horror movie that wants to be so horrifying that it’s fascinating.  It’s worked in some of their past songs, but here, they made it to the point where it’s actually painful to hear.  My finger just begged me to hit the skip button during those two songs; they were nearly unlistenable, except for a very, very unexpectedly smooth chorus on “Love and Meth”.  Another example is “Lullaby for a Sadist”, a power ballad (what the…), that just didn’t work.  They tried to give some beauty, beauty amidst the chaos, the diamond in the ruff, beauty in the beast, but it served as nothing more than a brief relief from the cacophonous monster that is the rest of the album.

Along with the less-than-great sludgy atmosphere, this album is unbelievably repetitive.  By “Victimized”, it all felt like more of the same painfully bad music.  It’s funny – in Path of Totality, people were furious that the album was mainly dubstep, while I assumed a passive indifference. In this album, for the bridge of the radio-friendly single “Never Never”, the album presented me with a short dubstep section. That was my favorite and the most memorable part of the album – they switched things up. Sure, we heard it in the previous album, but I was so incredibly happy to be taken away for a few seconds, far away from the rest of the boring cookie-cutter riffs. Then after that one half-decent song, it never came again, and the second half of the album dragged on even more than the first.

I sound uncompromising, brutal, and unforgiving to this album, don’t I?  Not true; don’t forget that I previously said that there are a few moments where the album shines with some good slap bass and sludge-y metal riffs that I can easily tap my feet to.  But, at the end of the day, it’s not nearly enough to save a bad release.  I understand what the band wanted to do, and they did it well enough, but I don’t think that every fan will accept the album for what it is.  Half the Korn fan-base will love this album, and rightly so, for it does everything right to appeal to them, and the fans will easily look past its shortcomings and just enjoy some old-fashioned Korn.  For the rest who are looking for more than just a call-back to the old stuff, they will be sorely disappointed and likely very skeptical about future comings from the band – I know I am.