Review: The Nothing, by Korn

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“Happiness is a club I’ll never be in.”

Death is never easy for any of us to deal with in our lives, especially when someone close to us is the one that experiences it. This happened to Korn’s frontman, Jonathan Davis, who tragically lost his wife, Deven Davis, back in August 2018. Over a year later after that tragic loss, the nu-metal outfit Korn released their album The Nothing, which is inspired by Davis’ tragic loss and the demons he deals with afterwards.

The opening track, “The End Begins”, sets the tone for this album with these haunting words: “Why did you leave me? / Now they are free / And they are coming after me.” Davis starting out the album with those words shows that this will be an honest and sincere experience we are embarking on as listeners. Davis also plays the bagpipes on the track, which paints the picture that “The End Begins” is a musical funeral, as Davis asks Deven why she left this world. The starting track, along with “Cold,” starts the journey of Jonathan Davis’ mind throughout this album.

The Nothing gives various parts of Davis’ mind time to come to the forefront, such as his isolation on “You’ll Never Find Me,” blaming God for providing only hurt on “Idiosyncrasy,” embracing his demons on “Gravity of Discomfort,” realizing that there maybe no answer on “The Ringmaster”. Ultimately, by the end of The Nothing, Davis comes to a tragic conclusion as he sings the most tragic line on the album, from the track “This Loss”: “Happiness is a club I’ll never be in.” The line conveys all the experiences, both old and new, that Davis has had in his life, which lead to him making this melancholy statement. Happiness has been taken away from him throughout his life. Whether it was his loss of innocence, which he shares on “Daddy,” to Deven’s recent passing, it seems that Davis can never truly be happy.

Since The Nothing is a very dark and tragic album, Davis gives a truly haunting performance both vocally and lyrically. Davis has one of the most unique voices in rock and metal, and he uses it to his full advantage on The Nothing. Whether it is his signature grungy delivery on “Idiosyncrasy,” somber vocals on “You’ll Never Find Me,” shouts on “Finally Free,” death metal growls on “Cold,” or operatic vocals on “This Loss,” Davis manages to incorporate these styles simultaneously and efficiently. His performance is the highlight of this album, since he is giving his all on every word. The instrumentals are also solid, as Brian “Head” Welch and James “Munky” Shafer provide solid guitar work that shows off the different influences Korn brings into this album. Generally, the guitar work is in the nu-metal territory, but there are different shades that are mixed into this album, adding some of the darkness that permeates The Nothing, whether it’s the heavy metalcore breakdowns on “Idiosyncrasy” and “Finally Free,” the darker hip-hop-inspired riffs from “The Ringmaster” and “Gravity of Discomfort,” or the theatrical atmosphere that goes through the entire album. Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on bass and Ray Luzier on drums provide a solid rhythm section throughout the album, as always. Tracks such as the aforementioned “The Ringmaster” and “Finally Free” show off the importance that “Fieldy” and Luzier have to Korn’s sound.

Korn has always been at their best when they deliver an honest, raw, and emotional experience on their albums, which is why the older albums, such as Korn and Follow the Leader, are given higher praise compared to their newer material, since those albums feel like more of an honest experience. Ultimately, The Nothing is an album that provides a raw and honest look into Jonathan Davis’ mind about the death of his wife and the demons he is left behind to deal with. I’m confident, at least in that regard, that this album is as good as their older material, since it provides that same honest experience and great music. I think this album will also help others, including myself, go through loss or dealing with issues in their lives. If you are looking for something honest, emotional, dark and haunting, then this is an album that I recommend wholeheartedly. The Nothing, if nothing else, shows that honesty and emotion are what it takes to make great music.