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Jonathan Davis - 'Black Labyrinth' Album Review


1. Final Days

2. Everyone

3. Happiness

4. Your God

5. Walk On By

6. The Secret

7. Basic Needs

8. Medicate

9. Please Tell Me

10. What You Believe

11. Gender

12. What It Is

Clearly anyone who is a fan of Alt-Rock, Nu Metal band Korn will love this new solo album from Korn Head Honcho Jonathan Davis. So this is the time for me to admit to being a Korn fan too. I had very high hopes about ‘Black Labyrinth’ when I heard about it and I would say it has delivered a million miles beyond those expectations.

This is Jonathan’s first solo album after twenty five years fronting Korn. Whilst he is known more as an extraordinary Rock singer he is also a highly talented multi-instrumentalist having mastered guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, fiddle and even bagpipes! This album was written and recorded during touring down time and as a result was largely recorded live. It is released on Sumerian Records on 25th May.

This collection has everything, most probably including the kitchen sink too, because this band could definitely make a great percussion tool out of it. The epic “Basic Needs” is described by Davis as “It’s a fucking love song about what I need to survive”. The six minute larger than life grand opus is a monstrous Rock groove which utilises percussion instruments from India and Japan. Davis seems to be experimenting sonically on this record and very successfully so. His vocals are recognisable if you know Korn, but there are elements of Gary Numan and others in his delivery and phrasing on some tracks. Who knew that Jonathan had an inner Pop Rock spirit? I’m not sure I did, but he sure as shit has, especially on “Please Tell Me” which worms its way into your head and sets up home and has a family there. There is a strong Led Zeppelin vibe on a few tracks reminiscent of Jimmy Page’s forays into North African beats.

I guess Davis could have played the safe card and effectively recorded a Korn album with a different band, but this goes way beyond any kind of Korn comfort zone. He has not just headed left field he has found a field in another universe to plough his solo musical furrow. This solo road has turnpikes going into Pop, Goth, Metal, world and electronic styles. Lead single “What It Is” epitomises a “to boldly go” ethos that Captain James T Kirk would be proud of. The song opens with a menacing almost funereal piano line before Mr Davis goes full on Pete Murphy on vocals. The orchestration builds slowly and eloquently into a planet splitting crescendo. Second single “Everyone” is like the best Sisters Of Mercy song that you have never heard!

This is a close to perfect album and I am damned sure it will grow massively in a live setting. This will increase Davis’s fan base way beyond even the huge children of Korn army (Do Korn fans actually have a nickname along the lines of Slipknot’s Maggots or Lady Gaga’s Monsters?) It might only be May but this is a big contender for album of the year in this reviewers opinion!

Review - Bill Adamson

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