New at Southwest Sound, May 24

by Cooper Stapleton

May 24 Jonathan Davis, “Black Labyrinth”After almost 30 years of being the go-to for angst ridden teenagers, Korn singer Jonathan Davis has released a solo album that is sure to delight anyone who is a fan of his bands’ work, and honestly, anyone who’s a fan of music in general. I went in expecting to hate it, and was blown away by lead single, “What It Is,” which shows a masterful and mature songwriter who’s moving beyond the preconceptions of his back catalog. In interviews leading up to the release of “Black Labyrinth,” Davis called it his magnum opus, a testament to all the creation he had done prior. I thought this was just regular album-release-cycle hype-talk, but after listening to it, I believe it. Musically, “Black Labyrinth” has the spine of hard rock that you expect, but it branches out into understated and unexpected directions, with world music, old soul, subdued dance music, and more making appearances. And the kicker? The whole album is seamless. Not once was I taken out of the context of the record itself by elements that should’ve been more jarring. Also, while his growl does show up occasionally, for the most part, Davis is singing in an almost mellow voice that flat out surprised me. I don’t know how many other ways I can say this album came out of nowhere and blew my expectations out of the water. I was a big fan of Korn in my early teens, as I was first beginning to discover music on my own, but they definitely fell by the wayside as my tastes evolved. This album absolutely surprised me, and I give massive props and congratulations to Jonathan Davis for building one of the best things in his career, almost three decades into it.

Candlemass, “House of Doom”The band that defined a genre and became a staple of the heavy metal scene around the world has returned with their new EP, “House of Doom.” Candlemass has constantly released music since 1985, and their first five records helped cement their Black Sabbath-worshipping slow sound as a defining tentpole of the circus that is heavy metal music. Though many would say their debut classic, “Epicus Doomicus Metallus,” has never been surpassed, each era of Candlemass has something to offer. The new EP offers four tracks, and clocks in just under 20 minutes, so this won’t be the endurance test that some doom metal records end up being. The vocals harken back to some of the classics of the late ’80s, with high falsettos and deep bass tones, but with no harsh vocals to be found. Album highlight for me is the acoustic “Fortuneteller,” a dirge of a man lamenting the money he spent to hear his future, only for it to disappoint him.

Other releases this week include Chvrches, Shawn Mendes, Snow Patrol, Joshua Redman, Big Scoob, Bleeding Through, Baptists, Hoobastank, Xavier Rudd, Wooden Shjips, and Jennifer Warnes.

Cooper Stapleton

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