Saturday, 9 June 2018

Jonathan Davis "Black Labyrinth" (2018)

Jonathan Davis, iconic front man of the legendary Nu Metal pioneers Korn, steps out on his own for a solo adventure that doesn't fly too far from the nest. Black Labyrinith can sound very much like a toned down experimental Korn record at times. Its mix of songs feels either stepped aside from the crunchy guitar work of Head and Munky, or exploring its exotic avenues of instrumentation with shades of Mediterranean cultural sounds colliding in this darkly gothic realm. It is mostly Jon himself who keeps the relation close, his singing and writing style unchanged leaves the lyrics and delivery feeling a perfect fit for his main band. The similarities are not to knock the record, its fantastic because its led solely by JD who's energy is simply absorbing but could also fit sweetly into a heavier mold.

The songs play through with his knack for infectious singing coming across strong and leading the way. Always with plain spoken lyrics and the atypical themes of inner struggle, pain, suffering and crying out "why",  the instrumentals under him play with texture and atmosphere as intricacies of sound make up swirls of dark atmosphere that form around the direction of his voice. The percussion is big and lively, no surprise to hear its Ray Luzier who is involved, his busying drum work keeps the record feeling expansive, especially when introducing bongos and other exotic sounds to the dark esoteric tapestry.

The albums closer and lead single What It Is, is part of a handful of songs that really finds an absorbing stride, sucking one into the vision behind Jon's lyrics. Between them a set of reasonable songs pass by with no weak points, its all good music with a few creeks of greatness. The music mostly resides is this dark realm of estranged melodies and sounds that howl and drift around in the background thanks to a gorgeous production that utilizes measures of reverberation to bring the instrumentation together.

A helping of overdrive guitars from none other than Wes Borland has the music often veering into a familiar aforementioned territory where its atmospheric and exotic counterpart plays second fiddle. It feels as if an opertunity was missed to find a new and exciting direction for the artist. We hear it in bursts, Final Days being an exemplary song wandering into dark places in an unusual way that works so well. Essential its a strong and enjoyable record with memorable singing from Davis. With a little more focus and direction, steering away from familiar territory this could of had some more clout and weight about it.

Favorite Tracks: Final Days, Medicate, Please Tell Me, What It Is
Rating: 6/10