13 albums in and 25 years since the beginning, is it still possible to be relevant? Well, In Korn’s case, yes, yes it is. For many years and albums, Korn has tried new things and the results were very hit or miss. Then, Brian “Head” Welch returned to the fold and things starting getting back on the right track. The bands previous album, The Serenity Of Suffering was surely a step in the right direction in terms of sound and getting back to what they do best. Now, on their new album The Nothing, Korn has really stepped up and made their best album since Untouchables. This new one has bits of Untouchables, Issues and their debut all wrapped into one. The end result is something that the band can look back on and be very proud of what they created.
The over arching theme of The Nothing is obviously the loss of Jonathan Davis’s wife and how he’s dealt with it. Never one to shy away from his pain, this album has some of the most vulnerable performances from JD in a very very long time. Opening the album is “The End Begins” which features bag pipes, rumbling percussion, and fuzzy bass along with JD putting himself deeply into this and uncontrollably sobbing as he asks “Why did you leave?” From that point, the album then begins to take shape as “Cold” hits with an impact that harks back to the way Issues started. “You’ll Never Find Me” is part 2 of the 1, 2 punch of how the album starts. The riffs and rhythms that accompany these two songs are some of the best of Korn’s career. One of my favorite songs on the album “Idiosyncrasy” is one hell of a song. The Pantera-esque riff along with melodic chorus makes this song one of the true standouts on the album. This album has a bit of everything for Korn fans. It hits the heavy, melodic, and experimental aspects that have made up the bands career. Such songs like “The Darkness Is Revealing,” “Finally Free,” The Ringmaster,” Gravity Of Discomfort,” and “H@rd3r” are great examples of that and showcase the different vocal approaches of Jonathan Davis as well as the band at a very creative turn that hark back to the origins of the band while adding a more modern approach. In true Korn fashion, these few songs have a life of their own but stay true to desperation and realism that the album carries. “Can You Hear Me” has a very cool Queen Of The Damned vibe along with a bit of a Follow The Leader melodic tinge. “This Loss” is one of my other favorite songs on the album. The band really honed in on the melodic aspects they’ve become known for. The interludes that appear also give the album a bit of a schizophrenic aspect but, help to tie in the thoughts being conveyed.
The Nothing stands up quite high in the bands catalog. There are some really classic Korn elements on these songs, along with memorable hooks and catchy choruses. The dueling guitars that became signature to Korn are extremely prevalent on this album and Munky and Head really shine. Fieldy’s bass hits the way it used to along with his percussive style bass that balances the guitars and drums. Ray Luzier finally sounds like he fits on a Korn record. His groove on this record is reminiscent of what David did on the older albums but, it’s done in a way that doesn’t sound rehashed and it stays true to the beast of a drummer that Ray is. Jonathan Davis’s vocals and melodies on this album are some of the best since Issues and Untouchables. Obviously the pain and grief of loss is ever noticeable but, they catharsis through the performances really makes the whole thing shine.
I’m sure many people have given up on Korn over the years. I know there was a point that I just didn’t care but, on the last album and on this one, Korn has recaptured what they do best without it coming across as forced. Working with Nick Raskulinecz has been a blessing for the band. He’s one of the few producers out there today that really understands the essence of what bands are and how to capture that magic again. The Nothing is an album that will draw older fans back into the fold while giving those skeptical ones something to sink their teeth into. Are there moments that are hit and miss, sure, but that doesn’t take away from how genuine and pure this album is.
Overall Rating: A
Korn- The Nothing:
Review By: Brian Lacy