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Jonathan Davis - Black Labyrinth | Album Review


As the frontman of one of the most iconic metal bands of the past thirty years, with one of the most recognisable voices in the industry, one may initially be sceptical of a Jonathan Davis solo album, wondering how exactly it may differ from a Koяn release even as he gazes up to the sky on the beautiful album artwork, resembling some kind of dreadlocked Jesus.

The opening track 'Underneath My Skin' though manages to immediately make a listener throw aside these assumptions. The lyrics and vocal delivery are trademark Davis, but the musical accompaniment sounds closer what we might expect from a hard rock band such as Stone Sour; as opposed to the founding father of nu metal, with catchy chorus hooks and an echoingly high-pitched guitar riff. 'Final Days', begins sounding closer to Davis’ previous work, but the tabla accompaniment does well in setting it apart for an intriguing listen; especially when paired with the haunting digital effects that reverberate around the ear. So far, the album as a whole is intriguing: with enough of the familiar that it draws a listener in, but simultaneously managing not to simply rehash anything we have already heard.

Unfortunately, while the album begins to set up this journey well, the next few short songs bleed into each other a little bit too much stylistically. They are different enough from Koяn, but do little to set out any distinctive differences from one another. The more industrial-sounding 'The Secret' manages to avoid this somewhat, despite another attempted anthemic hard rock chorus. The six-minute 'Basic Needs' blends a hulking groove with folk instruments from East and Southern Asia incredibly successfully though; quickly becoming a definite favourite from the album so far that is sure to please crowds live, especially if Davis can manage to bring all of these instruments on tour with him.

“Medicate” is another bright spark, with an enjoyably dark accompaniment reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails or an early Linkin Park verse twisting subtly around Davis’ powerful delivery. Perhaps it was just a mid-album lull with some of the earlier tracks, because by this point Davis definitely seems to be building to something yet again with the slower ballad of 'Please Tell Me', before bringing back the Japanese drums and heavy bass synth for 'What You Believe' – which becomes another instant favourite.

The album’s lead single, 'What It Is' brings the album then to a delightfully heavy close, whilst returning back to the catchy hooks that opened the album up. Again, the album can be summed up perfectly by a comparison to Koяn; it has enough of the work that made Davis a household name for it to appeal, but still manages to rebel against the stereotype that rock frontmen can only stick to one style. Score: 7.5/10 Facebook:/therealjonathandavis Twitter: @JDavisOfficial

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