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Korn Fail In Recreating ’90s Sound

When Korn’s first two records came out, they were mind blowing to middle America.

No one had ever heard heavy metal mixed with hip hop to the degree that it created a new genre with countless bands shuffling their feet and downtuning their guitars while wearing head to toe adidas. Musicians were running out to buy seven string guitars, myself included. Korn were on top of the world. People were used to seeing guys screaming who looked like Tom Araya of Slayer, not a white guy with an eyebrow ring and a tracksuit in Jonathan Davis. It was different. The music was different. Instead of examining the riff and building songs around technicality and speed, Korn pummeled with bass, percussion and their groove led the charge all while retaining their internal anger. The topics, which Davis sang about, were deeply personal and completely transparent of his overwhelming issues. It was new and exciting. This was 1996.

It’s 2010 now, fourteen years later and things have drastically changed. What was once a style that labels were scrambling to sign is now a trend so beat and dead it’s become a sad parody. Ball necklaces and oversized Jnco’s are gone. Mudvayne is long over as is Shuvel or Coal Chamber. With the Internet providing countless avenues for music, listeners are smarter and the trends change so fast, it’s hard to even tweet about it.
Korn, the forefathers of the movement, have accomplished little in terms of re-writing the book, if anything they’ve said the same thing over and over with drastically bland results.

Of all of the bands that were lumped into the “Nu-metal” genre, only one has remained relevant and that’s deftones. Reason being, they were smart enough to see the curves in the road and expanded their sound beyond anyone’s wildest ideas of what they were capable of. While Korn was writing “Issues”, deftones were writing “White Pony”. To compare the two would be like comparing a Beatles record to Master P. It’s just not fair.

As deftones continued to write a collection of artistic and creative records and still assuming a career, Korn, on the other hand has become one of those bands where the average listener who doesn’t drive a mud covered truck or plan his Saturday’s around his bowling night wonders: Why are you still a band? At an attempt to capitalize on former glory Korn release their 9th studio album today “Korn III – Remember who you are.” And apparently they haven’t realized or have forgotten that they’re stuck in a land where people thought Fred Durst was cool and everyone still had a beeper.

Every riff is a recycled idea from a prior record, which, in turn is basically all a ripoff of the first record that they’re paying tribute to. Jonathan Davis isn’t winning any vocal praise for his eleborate whining of “Are yooouuuuu readddyyy tooo llliivvvee or arreeee yooouu readddyyy tooo diiieee?” on the track “Are you ready to live?” It’s just awful. The constant squeeling and swanking of the guitars gets old extremely fast while the typical sloppy slapped bass just adds the same hip hop bounce element it’s been doing for almost two decades now.

What from the first two records are they exactly trying to channel? Those were created when the band was a hungry pack of kids from Nowhere, California. Now, those kids are rich men in their 40’s who’ve been rich for a long, long time now. What anger is really there? The ferocity that wrote songs like “Blind” or “Clown” is long gone. What the listener is left with is a sad attempt at structuring a last ditch effort to find pain, when clearly the pain is completely superficial and false. “Oildale” is a terrible single. “Korn III” is an awful record and I’m willing to be 16 year old me who once loved Korn would agree with 29 year old me that this cd sucks.

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  • Comment by Jeff posted September 18, 2010 at 01:37

    Thank you for telling it like it is — I couldn’t have said it all better myself, and Korn is a band I credit for keeping me sane through high school. Korn III is not only their worst, it’s the worst album I’ve listened to this year, period. It really pains me to admit that.

    I got Diamond Eyes though, to cheer me up. What an awesome piece of work that is.