Friday, 13 May 2011

Y'all Want An Overview Say Fuck Yeah!

For all the readers of this blog I would like to answer one quick question, and be honest now!...Right here goes...Korn...What do you think of them?

Now I am under the impression that this is a band that will divide opinion about as much as Moses can divide a sea. Some of you may say that they are an awful band, a name that is commonly known, even amongst people not so familiar with rock and metal, but undeserving of wide acknowledgement. For the people who think this I ask a further simple question...why? 

For those of you who think that Korn are pretty good or even if you are a massive fan I would like to say I agree with you guys. Korn are an essential band to listen to as lovers of metal, END OF. This is of course opinion and I don't mind if you dislike this band at all, but to deny this bands importance to the genre is just being blind and stupid.

The Year is 1994. Metal music has been losing credit and sales due to the alternative and grunge scenes gaining huge success and attention. Metal bands began changing and fighting to bring metal back into relevance, titans such as Pantera, Fear Factory, Machine Head and Sepultura to name just a few. This year also saw a further progression of this new found sound, a sound that would influence one of the most controversial and opinion dividing sounds of the 90's and further and Metal in general....yeah that one....Nu Metal.

Korn released their debut in 1994, and alongside Deftones, created the hugely successful Nu Metal scene. Korn themselves combining the schizophrenic and unpredictability of Faith No More, with the aggression found in bands such as Pantera, and rap metal influences from Rage Against The Machine, FNM and even throw in a bit of Living Colour influence, and made a fresh new style of aggression which took the world by storm. Not as necessarily definitely Nu Metal as bands they have influenced (such as Limp Bizkit), Korn sit somewhere between the standard bone headed but enjoyable style of Limp Bizkit and the thought provoking elements of Deftones .Generating love and hatred in equal measure, here is an overview of a band which deserves your respect no matter what. So here is my guide to the Korn back catalogue, I hope this can help the undecided as to where they stand. If not, well I enjoyed listening to their albums and writing about them.

Korn (1994)
   The 1994 début of Korn, and there are very few albums which have had as immediate an impact as this gem of an album. With the influence of FNM and RATM, and together with Deftones, Korn's debut created a brand new branch of metal which immediately sounded new and fresh despite the common influences and bludgeoned peoples faces upon first listen. The impact of this album cannot be underestimated.
    With low tuned sounding guitars, brutal drum sounds and vocals that are a combination of rap, death metal, blended with a secret potion of which only Mike Patton knows and you have, at the time a very unique sounding force which would put metal once again back on the map.

     Kicking off with a massive statement of intent, Blind's riff is perhaps one of the most memorable and best riffs of the 90's, followed by Jonathan Davies' cry of 'Are You Ready' and this album instantly kicks off massively and has you headbanging like a nutter, and that is just the start. In fact this album remains at a pretty constant and high level and the fact that it isn't cited as an all time great more regularly is criminal.
    The likes of Ball Tongue, Faget and Helmet In The Bush are massive songs of huge quality, and the bagpipes in the intro to Shoots And Ladders is so unexpected, and followed by the eerie lyrics consisting of famous nursery rhymes sung in low tones to loud growls is genius. 
    If one song has to be heard on this album however it has to be the odd and creepy Daddy. A song written by Jonathan Davies about his experiences as a child where he was abused, this song is an example of how a song can compel, grip and yet make the listener so uncomfortable all at once. An absolutely amazing song with so much emotion behind it, portrayed in such an unorthodox and gut-wrenching manner, this song has to be listened to, and is a pure example of the raw power and feeling Korn can produce when firing on all cylinders.

Listen to:
Blind, Helmet In The Bush, Daddy

Issues (1999)
    Following the more rap tinged elements of 1998's Follow The Leader album (an album which had collaborations from Ice Cube and Fred Durst), Korn decided that they wanted their next move to move further away from Nu-Metal and towards more Alternative sounds. While not a huge departure from their core sound whatsover, there are much less hip hop parts, and whilst FTL was by no means a bad album, Issues is superior and at this point in time their best album since their début 5 years ago.
    Some of  Korn's best songs come from this album. The chilling Falling Away From Me, the incredibly dark Trash, and the mighty Make Me Bad. Much of the songs on this collection are absolutely brilliant.
    Emphasis on the word MUCH. Because as is a problem with many of their albums is that they lack consistency, and in this case with the hugeness of the songs mentioned, many of the rest do not have the same force at all. By no means bad whatsover, just not as memorable. This is still a pretty great album and one for fans and newbies a like.

Listen to:
Falling Away From Me, Trash, Make Me Bad

Untouchables (2001)
    When it comes to opening an album, it is good to have a track that immediately makes your jaw drop and have you wanting more, and I can think of very few examples as Korn did here. Opening with the unstoppable Here To Stay, possibly one of their heaviest songs ever, HTS will have you stomping and swinging your head as soon as it kicks in.
    After a series of album from their début that were not of the highest consistency, Issues improved the trend but still showed some inconsistency. In 2001 Korn ended that trend (for the time being) with an absolutely astonishing album and showed once again what they were capable of.
    Following from Issues, Korn once again stripped the Rap elements and had another more alternative sounding album, but at times much heavier than most previous output (especially on HTS). Untouchables finds Korn's anger and rage from the first album creeping up to its best for the first time since that benchmark album, Jonathan Davies especially putting on one of his best performances for years.

Listen to: Here To Stay, Hollow Life, Alone I Break

Korn III: Remember Who You Are (2010)

    It would be a long long time since Korn would again release a truly worthwhile album since 2003's Take A Look In The Mirror. By this point Korn could have been accused of testing fan's patience with following below par albums, uncertainties in the band themselves and even the relevance of Korn being scrutinised, they needed to pull a massive album to set things straight. Thank god that they did.
    Replacing David Silveria with Ray Luzier, and signing with Roadrunner Records, Korn seemed to have had a rebirth, the fire once again seemed to be lit and they set out and made one of their best albums (certainly matching Untouchables, possibly even their debut). III goes back to the rage present on their début and is much closer to the originial album sonically with fewer obvious rap elements than FTL and not as branching into alternative territories as Issues and Untouchables, and certainly taking away from the experimentation of Untitled, this goes back to album number one without sounding just like a rehash. 
    Ray Luzier's drum performance is strikingly good here and he has to be a catalyst for their rejuvenation. It isn't just Ray's presence however, as Davies gives his best performance in years and the work of Munky and bassist Fieldy are on excellent form. Oildale is one of the best songs they have written in years, as are the likes of Move On, Let The Guilt Go and Never Around, whilst Are You Ready To Live? harks back to Daddy on the original album in its un-comfortability but gripping appeal. Here is hoping Korn remain this good for years to come.

Listen to:
Let The Guilt Go, Never Around, Are You Ready To Live?

Criminally Underrated
Take A Look In The Mirror (2003)
    Korn admit that the making of this album was rushed due to lack of time to do so, and this album does divide opinion amongst fans. No doubt it is not their strongest album, but is by no means a bad album and is certainly worth a listen for fans, and does contain some great songs.
    This album according to the band marks a return to heavier territory, however this perhaps isn't that noticeable but does show a less depressive sounding to Untouchables.
    TALITM shows a return of the bagpipes on Let's Do This Now, which has not been a regular staple on albums for a while sadly. There is also a massive return of rap influences with a storming performance from Nas on Play Me. Throw in the awesome Right Now, Did My Time and a not bad attempt at Metallica's One as a hidden track and this album at times really does the business. It's inconsistency lets it down however as many other songs are instantly forgettable unfortunately, otherwise this album is well worth a listen or two.

Listen to: 
Right Now, Did My Time, Play Me

Unessential/Tread Carefully
Untitled (2007)

     Definitely the weak link in the Korn back catalogue, here Korn took a risk at experimentation which sadly failed. Insecurities in the band, with the departure of David Silveria and no replacement, may have contributed to the albums weakness but also this album just isn't great at all.
    The opening foursome of songs lull in to a false sense of security by being quite decent. Not as great as previous output, but Starting Over, Bitch We Got A Problem, Evolution and Hold On actually make you think that this album might be worthwhile. Unfortunately it ends there.
    The band seems to have taken an experimentation towards more mellow sounds sometimes, and by no means a wrong move as such, here it doesn't work and in reality we want full aggression from Korn. Also sometimes there is a distinct lack of rage and hunger it would appear which causes much of the album to lack that edge, and other than those four mentioned songs and perhaps Innocent Bystander, all the rest of the album is completely forgettable. It is a good job that III emerged because it would be a worry if Korn continued at this pace.

Listen to: Starting Over, Bitch We Got A Problem, Hold On

So here we are, another day another post. Well goodbye Wolfpack! until next time kiddies :)

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