THE PARADIGM SHIFT
Korn has always been one of those bands that either hits or misses with me. I've loved some of them (KORN, FOLLOW THE LEADER), and I've hated others (LIFE IS PEACHY, UNTOUCHABLES). Their last release, the dubstep flavored PATH OF TOTALITY, was pretty much unlistenable to me personally. It just turned into so much more of a Jonathan Davis solo project than anything else. For THE PARADIGM SHIFT, the band has returned to their roots in a lot of ways. They have brought back guitarist Head from his religious revival, and with him comes a lot of the older style flavor. While not perfect, THE PARADIGM SHIFT is one of the stronger releases from Korn in awhile.
The reasons this one resonates are pretty simple. Head coming back seemingly forced the band to make the kind of music they made originally. While certainly there is nothing as angst-filled and aggressive as the early music they made, the overall musical style has returned. Songs like "Love & Meth" are prime examples. This song is clearly a ready for radio Korn single, but it has all the elements that made so many of their songs work for active rock radio stations in the past. Vocalist Jonathan Davis sounds about as good on this release as he has at any point in his past. That said though, the standout performer on THE PARADIGM SHIFT is drummer Ray Luzier. For the first time since he joined the band, his playing actually fits the band and their style. While Luzier is a great drummer, the releases with him have always just had an odd bottom end that didn't match past efforts. That's gone this time. Instead, songs like "What We Do" just feel a bit more right, and that's in large part because Luzier drives the ship with his creative, powerful undercurrent that he creates.
As for the return of Head, his performance is probably less noticeable in the performance than in the overall vision that he brought back to the band. Reading a lot of the reports about the writing, they stated that Head brought a lot of hard rock ideas while Davis had a lot more of the dubstep/industrial sounds ready to go. The two clearly compromised all over the place, and did a much more proper and less invasive mixing of the two styles than Korn did on their previous release. Hearing songs like "Mass Hysteria", "Spike In My Veins" and "Punishment Time" showcase these compromises well. In short, there's a bit of flavor from both musical styles, and it is very enjoyable and fresh.
PITRIFF RATING - 78/100 - While not a great release by any means, THE PARADIGM SHIFT is one of the better releases Korn has done in the last decade. Will they ever recapture the greatness of the early years? It's doubtful. That said though, there's still more here to enjoy than the material most of the bands from their era that have survived are putting out. At least they are still trying to expand their sound. Thankfully, they found a better mix of the newer styles to the classic sound this time.