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Korn

Essay by review  •  August 25, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,007 Words (5 Pages)  •  647 Views

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In the early '90s, heavy music looked to be going the way of the

dinosaurs: Well-heeled Brit-pop and well-scrubbed pop-punk were

thoroughly dominating the guitar-rock landscape, and the few surviving

old-school metal acts seemed hopelessly unable to adapt.

But somewhere within the vast, murky Southern California wasteland, a

dynamic new species was being born, a forward-thinking beast that

disregarded the mistakes of heavy bands past while meshing dark, urban

rhythms and low-tuned guitar sludge with violent, expressionist blasts

of hip-core noise. That and the wildly emotional vocals of JONATHAN,

which alternated between a bourbon-smooth croon and a viscerally sharp

howl, made for a revolutionary mix that redefined heavy rock better than

anyone had in a decade. The result was a monster 1994 self-titled debut

album that went solid platinum, and by the time 1996's Life Is Peachy

was released, this beast had a fanbase over two million strong--and a

legion of musical imitators so large it threatened to saturate the

planet.

It was time for a change of rules.

Hence KORN's latest, greatest slab, aptly titled FOLLOW THE LEADER. From

the broadened musical and emotional scope to the much beefier production

values to the stunning cover art courtesy of Spawn-creator Todd

McFarlane, FOLLOW THE LEADER is indeed an ambitious and deeply

satisfying outing for the band. And while there is considerably more

hype surrounding this rightly anticipated disc, JONATHAN is quick to put

things in perspective.

"Our only goal was to take our time on this album," he says. "Because I

knew we had it in us to do something great. To full integrate both

(previous) albums and put out a record we could be proud of...we wanted

to do some phat shit."

"I think working with a new producer and going into a new studio helped

us grow musically as a band," adds guitarist MUNKY. "All of us really

have that fire again about being excited about a record...We all feel

like we grew, like when you grow out of some old shoes; your feet are

all crammed in forever and you know you need to buy a new pair, but you

need to save up the money to do it. We kind of saved up our confidence

and made that leap into our new shoes."

Fans of old-school KORN needn't despair--the new shoes kick just as much

ass as the old pair. "Freak On A Leash" is a molotov cocktail of

scathing, psychedelic guitar runs, hypno-groove bass grind, hip-hop

jungle drumming, all sliced in two with an ingeniously placed scat line

reminiscent of PEACHY opener "Twist." Then there's "Children Of The

KORN," title courtesy of legendary gangsta rapper Ice Cube, who

contributed an arresting series of verses to the tune, as well as a

mallet-blunt mantra that speaks for every fed up kid in America: "Stop

fuckin' with me!" Check the epic closing track, "My Gift to You," one of

the band's heaviest songs to date, rife with the sort of lyrical honesty

that's earned JONATHAN true street cred with the kids--and dismay from

the parents. Which is just fine with him--KORN, after all, speaks

directly to those disenfranchised with a world of spent opportunity and

violence, due in large part to the short-sightedness of generations

past.

"Yeah," says JONATHAN, "I am pissed off that I inherited it. I wish

sometimes that I was born back in the day. But today's society is so

fucked up...we gotta thank the parents for doing that to the kids."

Yes, they still rock. But FOLLOW THE LEADER also illustrates just how

much JONATHAN's vocal and lyrical abilities have broadened from the

"straight fuckin' cathartic rage" of KORN and PEACHY to a level that

communicates a full range of human emotion, from regret ("It's On!") and

empathy ("Justin"), to lighthearted if incredibly vitriolic banter ("All

In The Family"). The band's musical growth is also well evident--from

drummer DAVID's successful integration of D-Drum sampling to FIELDY's

ever-more-percussive bass playing. Meanwhile, twin guitar towers MUNKY

and HEAD have made

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