Video Review: Korn's 'Spike in My Veins'

New Korn video addresses privacy, cult of celebrity
By Peter Lindblad

Korn - The Paradigm Shift
Orwellian paranoia runs rampant in Korn’s new video for “Spike in My Veins,” which premiered this week at And the Nu Metal revolutionaries attempt to make the case that privacy is being eroded in this age of the 24-hour news cycle and Internet overstimulation with their own version of the Ludovico technique, that horrifying aversion therapy that Malcolm McDowell’s character undergoes in “A Clockwork Orange.” Korn’s treatment is far less violent, but almost as disturbing.

Rather than setting out to make its audience impotent, there’s a sense that Korn is sounding an alarm with a bombardment of images that haven’t yet exceeded their expiration dates in the public’s ever-shrinking consciousness. There’s Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman yelling into the camera after the Super Bowl. There’s Justin Bieber and then there’s Justin Bieber again, with his smiling mug shot and a scene of him in tough-guy mode wanting to fight all comers while being pushed into a limo. Tongue stuck out in full twerk, Miley Cyrus, like Bieber, is everywhere, as are egomaniacal rapper Kanye West and disgraced Toronto mayor and noted party guy Rob Ford, dancing without a care in the world and caught by a surreptitious camera making insane threats to do somebody bodily harm.

There are a lot of puzzle pieces that beg for context in "Spike in My Veins," but it's not long before it starts to make sense. All those scenes of cops in riot gear beating people up and press conferences of government officials shamelessly trying to counter the very serious accusations of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden suggest totalitarianism isn’t just a Russian or a Third World problem. Although it's not the wildly creative game-changer "Freak on a Leash" was, it’s a fairly effective statement put forth by Korn and director David Dinetz, as well as his creative team at Culprit Creative – the idea being that our obsession with celebrity and scandalous media firestorms are preventing us from confronting very immediate and devastating attacks on privacy in this country, just as junkies avoid reality by shooting up.

Quick cutaways lend the thought-provoking video a sense of urgency, hammering home the sense that it is well past time for action and that apathy is more dangerous than ever. What is being spiked in our veins is not heroin. It’s the constant stream of salacious garbage the media spews like vomit that's dulling our senses. Of course, this sort of thing has been done before. Public Enemy, U2, Ministry … the list of artists who have made similar socio-political indictments through the medium of video is lengthy to say the least. But, if nothing else, at least Korn is staying up on current events.

And they are growing more adept at building tension in tracks like “Spike in My Veins,” as the verses simmer to a roiling boil here, thankfully lacking the momentum-killing down-tuned silliness and irritating vocal histrionics of Korn's past. With its explosive, shattering chorus, strong grooves and thick riffs, “Spike in My Veins,” off the critically acclaimed album The Paradigm Shift, crashes into your living room with the kind of raw emotion and intensity that children of the Korn feed off. Still, as far as the video goes, it's mostly just Korn performing in front of a wall of TVs, even if the parade of familiar cable news touchstones is smartly arranged and edited to both incite and excite. And for those wanting some stunning visual effects to go with their sensory overload, the “Matrix”-like effects that make an octopus of Jonathan Davis’s wheeling arms are pretty bitchin’. Keanu Reeves thinks so, too. 

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