Korn are one the most respected nu metal acts today getting their start in the 1990’s and consistantly releasing highly successful studio albums and touring the world. For many years I have been hearing that frontman Jonathan Davis was putting ideas together for a solo album but never heard much more from it. He has recently worked on soundtracks for movie projects such as Queen of the Damned and American Satan. Davis is releasing his first solo album titled Black Labyrinth featuring the first single “What It Is” from American Satan. I have to admit I’m not the biggest Korn fan so I was interested in hearing his solo material with my open mind.
After listening to the opening tracks “Underneath My Skin” and “Final Days” I knew I was in for an interesting journey. The instrumentation reminded me of what Goodsmack frontman Sully Erna did on his solo album Avalon in which he stripped things back and used non-traditional instrumentation experimenting with Indian and Asian influences and textures. Mid way through the album songs “Walk On By”, The Secret”, and “Basic Needs” shift the mood to more melodic in their approach with mixing in elements of pop, goth, and electronic music. If you told me Marilyn Manson collaborated on these two songs I would not be surprised.
Davis is brilliant at taking the listener on a dark and at times disturbing depths of his soul. The subjects and descriptions he paints are often interesting and harsh at the same time. He opens up and shows a vulnerability that fans can relate to. It is a hard contrast of emotion and pain juxtaposed against beauty and happiness. His vocals are easily recognizable and are more diverse and delivered perfectly as they are with Korn. All of these things come together to build cohesive music and it sounds outstanding.
After listening to Black Labyrinth, I will definatley give this a repeat listen. There is so much going on musically and lyrically that I think I can find hidden layers with more to discover. I always enjoy when an artist takes himself creatively in a new direction and Jonathan Davis has done that with this project. I hope this generates a lot of interest from out of the box fans. I know I have.
Black Labyrinth is released on Sumerian Records on May 25.
Review by Jason Bullinger