Released: 25th May 2018
Twenty-five years, twelve albums, forty million records sold, and two Grammy’s. That’s a lot to live up to as the lead singer of a band that practically pioneered an entire genre and yet for Korn’s Jonathan Davis, his legacy is nothing but a page in a rulebook. A rulebook which he promptly rips up from the opening moments of his debut solo foray ‘Black Labyrinth’.
Tapping into his deepest and darkest influences, Davis cooks up a cocktail of all-out alt-rock, gothic tendencies via way of The Cure, New Romantic aesthetics, electro-industrial Nine Inch Nail-infused grooves, and world instruments; pouring its nectar down the thematic mouths of spirituality, religion, and consumerism and the enlightenment that comes from removing oneself from these factors. Simply put; if you were looking for a streamlined set of rejected Korn cuts, you’ve come to the wrong album.
From the pulsing synths, hieroglyphic rhythms, and dystopic industrialism of Hesitation Marks-era Nine Inch Nails-infused ‘Medicate’ to the six-minute tour-de-force ‘Basic Needs’ that illuminates the love looming in Davis’ still-beating black heart through warping world instruments that embrace more cultures than a secondary school cafeteria; ‘Black Labyrinth’ is a pick-‘n’-mix of sounds that ebbs and flows, building and bubbling up in a formulaic mesh of emotional purging and pent-up angst.
Ironically, Davis admits his albums Achilles heel deep within late-cut ‘Please Tell Me,’ hauntingly singing: “So please tell me what the fuck is going on? This shit keeps dragging on.” In layman’s terms, ‘Black Labyrinth’ does what it says on the tin in such a way it sometimes loses sight of the potential it possesses. It spends far too much time leading you in one direction before twisting you sideways and flipping you upside down in a completely different direction that you occasionally find yourself dazed and displaced.
With a legacy the size of an encyclopaedia behind him and over a decade’s worth of anticipation for his debut solo record, Jonathan Davis has surpassed the perils of pressure by delivering a collection of songs only the mind of Davis could deliver: synth-heavy industrial rock that battles with God on more than one occasion while simultaneously shifting your body through a spiritual labyrinth. Jack Press