Jonathan Davis
Black Labyrinth


2.6
average

Review

by Scuro F. STAFF
May 28th, 2018 | 167 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lost.

Here's some quick trivia to preface what will likely be a painful critique: a labyrinth, unlike some other puzzling formations, features a distinct unicursal pathway slowly winding to the pattern’s centre point. In other words, a labyrinth is not a maze, and this album is, likewise, not amazing. Since I'm personally a long-time fan of Jonathan Davis and his career as the frontman of nu-metal pioneers Korn, I will be forthright with my positive bias here. I went into this album wanting to like it; overestimated what the singles promised; remained optimistic in blissful denial as the increasingly middling snippets piled up prior to release. Unfortunately, it's time to literally face the music and publicly admit that Black Labyrinth just...isn't very good.

Things certainly kick off innocently enough, all things considered. While the inoffensive opener ‘Underneath My Skin’ isn't anything to write home about, ‘Final Days’ takes some obvious inspiration from Jonathan’s time working on the soundtrack for 2002’s movie adaptation of the Anne Rice novel Queen of the Damned. In particular, the track heavily resembles session B-Side ‘Slept So Long’ with its understated vocal delivery and eerie string presence (talk about a fanboy level deep-cut huh). Following from this pair, ‘Everyone’ introduces a blast of energy to the fold with a vibe not too dissimilar from something Korn might have produced during a lull in creativity; characteristics which aren't really surprising given that this piece was offered forth as a single. More on that subterfuge later. The remainder of this album, aside from a couple notable standouts, more closely resembles a simple downward spiral than it does an intricate structure of irregular passageways. Everything from this point onwards, up until ‘Basic Needs’, comes across as severely dated and incredibly boring. There's something indescribably fake about the production throughout Black Labyrinth, and whatever it is screams “early 2000s radio rock” like nothing else can. Everything sounds terribly compressed and cheap, so when JD reports that most of the work presented here has been incubating for over a decade, I can believe it. Studio borne illnesses are far from the only maladies afflicting this release, however. Stale songwriting and (mercifully) brief track durations birth forth mind-numbing verses and uninteresting choruses that repeat all too often, in all too predictable configurations. With such uninspired material to work with, it's difficult to conjure an emotion either side of ambivalent, neither to exalt nor to condemn.

Thankfully, Black Labyrinth does have its sparse saving graces, and you'll never guess what clues indicate whether or not a track is worthy of attention. “Could it be that, in an attempt to convince audiences early on that Jonathan’s solo material might follow the impressive trajectory of the recently successful Korn albums, the decision was made to releases all Korn-esque tracks as singles, and these happen to broadly correspond as the only worthwhile tracks while also badly representing the remaining material?”, you may inquire, rather accurately, as though providing a rhetorical device designed to make a point. Well the answer is yes, actually. That's about the shape of it. In fact eliminating the singles from the equation leaves almost nothing to be desired, save the likes of ‘What You Believe’ and some moderately interesting exotic instrumentation elsewhere. On the other hand, promotional tool ‘Basic Needs’ offers a healthy use of dynamics and layering, with the potential to illicit something verging on an emotional response, and that's even before addressing the second half which involves a killer Egyptian-sounding instrumental stretch. Lead single ‘What It Is’ could be a spruced-up leftover from Korn’s Untitled album for all I can tell, and it's by far the best of the bunch here, particularly due to the downright catchy chorus and its willingness to forgo the bland formula seemingly repeated on 3/4ths of this album. Certainly it closes Black Labyrinth on a much needed high, but it hardly redeems the experience. In the end, I won't pretend to be hurt at having my expectations shattered, and I'm not mad this turned out so underwhelming. I'm just disappointed.



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user ratings (78)
Chart.
2.3
average
other reviews of this album
DropTune (1)
Bland, dated, tasteless....



Comments:Add a Comment 
ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2018


11530 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ruBCKmgO1-E - a link to "What You Believe". From here you can stream the entire album on Sumerian Record's channel if you're so inclined. Kinda bummed about this one homies.

Digging: Isegrimm - Der Herr von Verona

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


14684 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

I've have been looking forward to this review scuro. Will read it on my computer later

Digging: Leeched - You Took The Sun When You Left

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


14684 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Double post

Dewinged
May 28th 2018


11061 Comments


Brvtal.

But I'm not surprised. The singles had a 2.5 branded all over them. Great review Scuro.

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle - On Dark Horses

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


14684 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

sweet review as always, my man. though I think you're way too kind on this lol

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


8635 Comments


this korn is off the kob..

Digging: Mark Stewart And The Maffia - Learning To Cope With Cowardice

Darius
May 28th 2018


17530 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Was it really ever on and fresh

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


8635 Comments


you're right.. this korn was kreamed from the get go..

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2018


11530 Comments

Album Rating: 2.6

@Gonzo thanks man, yeah my rating is soft tbh. I expect the mediocre highlights to grow off me soon enough and push this down to a 2 or something.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


14684 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, I had high hopes for this, but god, davis just hams it right up on here.

Darius
May 28th 2018


17530 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

oh god theres a song called 'Gender' on here

kris.
May 28th 2018


15029 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

that cover is the picture-perfect definition of "edge"

Darius
May 28th 2018


17530 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

minus jon davis's ugly self the cover is actually pretty cool imo

William21
May 28th 2018


280 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

This was a disappointment

zaruyache
May 28th 2018


19537 Comments


Listening on Spotify with my decent headphones and the production on the instruments sounds aaaawwwfffuuulll. The guitars are disgusting.

Digging: Infernal Coil - Within a World Forgotten

AcidCaravan
May 28th 2018


425 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

This guy (and his band) lost it AGES ago. Should have called it quits after the "Follow The Leader" tour ended. I may sound like a cunt, but their downward spiral started with "Issues" already, in my opinion. Something was already missing. Maybe it was the speed and alcohol that gave 'em the right inspiration...

Digging: R.L. Burnside - First Recordings

misho87233
May 28th 2018


6 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm really liking it so far, but I was expecting the rating here .. really jamming his more experimental songs on this album, Final Days, Medicate, Your God, The Secret, Please Tell Me,What You Believe... first songs that are more guitar driven aren't as hot though

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2018


8777 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

In other words, a labyrinth is not a maze, and this album is, likewise, not amazing.




You dog : ] I see it, lovely words Scuro

Doctuses
May 28th 2018


1822 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

shite album by a shite guy whoda thunk it

DropTune
May 28th 2018


1232 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

WELL... this is going to be a fun album to explore. I've never seen such a large margin between 1, 1.5, 2.5, and 5. That's just... wow. This is going to be a fun album. I kind of expected a reception from Jonathan Davis. KoRn is so hit or miss. I only expect Davis to be the same.



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