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Jonathan Davis - 'Black Labyrinth' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     May 19, 2019    
 
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An excellent Prog Metal release which leaves its mark on you with melodies and phrases that stick with you for a long time.

There's always a risk when an individual member of a successful group makes a solo album that it will sound like the parent band, especially when it's the vocalist who's usually the main identifier. Jonathan Davis has a very distinctive voice and style, which is difficult to separate from Korn, and in effect, it requires a little more effort to achieve that distance. I assume that's been done because this is a very good album.

While angst, anger and despair flow all the way through the album, even in 'Happiness', the songs don't depress due to the strength of the music. 'Underneath My Skin' is a solid opener, sounding somewhat Muse-like, as does 'What You Believe' later on. There's a strong Indian vibe with the percussion and instrumentation in 'Final Days' (and 'What You Believe'), and he very cleverly switches from Japanese to Indian again in the middle of 'Basic Needs'; it's a brilliant song with a huge sound. 'Everyone' and 'Walk On By' are probably the closest he gets to sounding like Korn (and their best at that). Whilst there are no bagpipes, some sounds on here wouldn't be out of place on a Mike Oldfield album.

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'Your God' is the first track with a really strong "sing-along" chorus and it's an indicator to the second half of the album which, for me, is much stronger with some stirring, melodic chord progressions, which some might say would be made even better with some nice guitar work, but after you've listened to it a couple of times, you don't even notice that this aspect is missing. The string of seven songs, from 'The Secret' to the album's end, has to be some of the best stuff I've heard in a long time; 'Basic Needs,' 'Medicate' and 'Gender' in particular are the absolute diamonds, and Jonathan Davis worked with co-writers on all three. 'Please Tell Me' has a very infectious, melodic chorus and it would make a good single (but I doubt you'll ever hear it on the radio), while 'What It Is', which was released as the first single, closes out the album.

This is an excellent Prog Metal release which leaves its mark on you with melodies and phrases that stick with you for a long time. However, probably what this album does most is give us a good example of just what his input into Korn is – quite simple, it's the best bits.

Andy Brailsford

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