For Fans Of
It seems these days that the world has an attention span of fewer than two years. This much was confirmed to me upon the release of Korn’s twelfth record, ‘The Serenity Of Suffering’ earlier this month, which saw everyone and their JNCO wearing dog labelling it as the return of Korn’s darker, heavier sound. Oh, how easily thy forget’s ‘The Paradigm Shift’.
‘The Paradigm Shift’ was where fans the world over found their heroes returning to their heavier sound of old after the electronic left turn of ‘The Path Of Totality’; a decent record in its own right, just not a good Korn album. Yes, ‘The Paradigm Shift’ was also far from the best Korn release nor was it the greatest album of all time but it showed the band getting back in the saddle and doing what they do best. So too did their cover/remix of Rihanna’s ‘Bitch Better Have My Money‘. However, if you believe the recent articles and reviews in the current heavy music media then that record (and that cover/remix) never happened and ‘The Serenity Of Suffering’ is the first real return of 90’s angsty nu-metal Christl, AKA a dark and heavy Korn album in 2016.
Now, first off, as the above ‘70’ score implies, I think this is a good record; both by the band’s standards, nu-metal and heavy music in general. It’s also a really fun album to listen to, as the album flows very well as a greater whole and it’s even catchy at times. Although you definitely wouldn’t label this as the band going ‘poppy’, this is more a by-product of the overall songwriting here and the record’s driving, chorus-focused songs. As one can most likely imagine, down-tuned guitar riffs, thick bass lines, rock-solid drum grooves, vinyl scratches, and Jonathan Davis’s onomatopoeia vocals, death metal growls (or as “death metal” as they could ever hope to be), and his angst-ridden teenage lyrics are all found in abundance here. There are also no electronic tracks here, no stylistic curveballs, no experimental moments; just a straight up stomping, dark, heavy-sounding Korn jamming out like it’s 1998 again. Sure, that does make it a rather “one-note” album of sorts, but a good one nonetheless!
Lead singles ‘Insane’ and ‘Rotting In Vain’ (easily the better of the two) establish the core tone, tempo, and general sound of the album’s following nine songs. As such, if these first seven or so minutes aren’t to your liking then it’s time to cut your losses and move on as you won’t find much else on offer here. However, if you’re like me, and you enjoy these earlier few minutes then keep the album spinning as this new record will satisfy you greatly as there are some great songs awaiting you within. Speaking of which…
‘A Different World’ is a damn solid track with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor bringing up the vanguard vocally to help create one of the most memorable choruses of the whole album. Elsewhere, ‘When You’re Not There‘ is a twisted, pumping anti-love song, ‘Black Is The Soul‘ is just fucking monolithic in its riffs and its chorus, and ‘Everything Falls Apart‘ is crucial with its panicked lead guitars in the intro and its percussive, maniacal bridge section. ‘Next In Line‘ shows the band’s potent mixture of energised riffing and grooves with uplifting melodies. The album’s final track, ‘Please Come For Me‘, is perhaps Korn at their tightest, both sonically and musically, and while the band’s song structures are repeated throughout this record, this track offers a solid end to an equally solid record; even with an all too familiar taste being left in one’s mouth. As for the other songs that I haven’t mentioned yet – ‘The Hating‘, ‘Die Yet Another Night‘, and ‘Take Me‘ – I would say that these are all merely fine, but they’re a far cry from being bad songs. And that’s in the very worst case.
Now, when I said earlier that this album is ‘dark’, I say that in the vein of how RPG games like the Witcher series or TV shows like Game Of Thrones are labelled as being dark, yet rely overtly on rape or having every second character say ‘fuck’ or ‘cunt’ every couple minutes; that is to say using cheap ideas to get help the point across, no matter how many times they reuse them. As such, the lyrics here feel just that – cheap. They come off as cliché, poetically edgy, are all rather generalised and they rarely, if ever, leap out at you. However, considering the possible fact that Davis may have already exerted many of his darker, more specific demons on their earlier output, this issue may have always been the case considering they are now twelve albums deep into their career. But whereas the lyrics are lacking somewhat, the instrumentation, the delivery and the production here more than cover up for it.
This week I’ve looked at two albums that come from the nu-metal background; Superheist’s ‘Ghosts Of The Social Dead’ and the subject of this review, Korn’s ‘The Serenity Of Suffering’. Now, I don’t think I need to tell you which one is the better record (it’s the latter, oh sweet shit, is it the latter) and while Korn already returned to their older sound one album prior, this release is both heavier and more consistent. It’s also interesting to note that after the countless bands that blatantly copied and took a huge amount of influence from these guys, Korn seems just as relevant and just as popular as they’ve ever been, and I can’t really say that about most bands that have been around for 23 plus years.
- Rotting In Vain
- Black Is The Soul
- The hating
- A Different World
- Take Me
- Everything Falls Apart
- Die Yet Another Night
- When You’re Not There
- Next In Line
- Please Come For Me
‘The Serenity Of Suffering’ is out now via Roadrunner Records. Also, I’m sure that Korn fans will geek out over the ‘Issues’ reference on the cover of this new record. Oh, and if you’re hungry for more, look up the album’s two bonus songs, ‘Baby’ and ‘Calling Me Too Soon’; they’re fucking great! Whoever’s decision it was to leave those two songs off the standard track listing deserves to be hung by their thumbs until they go still.