Korn are an important band to me. They were the first concert I attended (Festival Hall, 1997, Life is Peachy tour), and while Metallica and Maiden were my introduction in to metal, Korn really opened my ears to new sounds.
Without the Korn gateway, I may not have discovered Fear Factory, Tool, Deftones and a plethora of other bands who became my favourites throughout the years. Even at a young age, I was a traditional metal enthusiast until Korn came along.
Although they did have a few years of waining popularity, and (in the eyes of many) mediocre releases, I stood by them, and enjoyed every new release. Ok, maybe not The Path of Totality quite so much, but it does have its moments.
For their thirteenth studio album, The Nothing, Korn have delivered an album that features all of the hallmarks that put them on the map – melody, emotion and heaviness. The last few albums, 2016’s Serenity of Suffering and 2014’s Paradigm Shift were both pretty solid offerings, but this feels like a major return to form.
The End Begins is the opening track, first delivering a bag pipe introduction, before a pounding rhythm from Ray Luzier and haunting emotional vocals from Jon Davis welcome us to the album. Buzzing distorted guitars bring the track (more of an intro piece) to fruition.
Cold opens with stuttering guitar riff, building the song into a heavy beast – one of the best Korn numbers in a long while. It’s heavy, but also features some fantastic soaring melodies from Davis’ vocals. This would not have been out of place on the bands earliest albums, particularly Follow The Leader.
Continuing on through You’ll Never Find Me, there are call backs to Life Is Peachy here, noticeable mostly in the guitar work. At the same time, it’s infinitely more accessible and radio friendly than a lot of that album. The Darkness is Revealing is the epitome of a Korn classic in the making. From the unique guitar work, to the pounding drums and very fat bass sound to the immaculate vocals from Jon Davis, this is nothing short of memorable.
Idiosyncrasy is a rumbling pile driver when it needs to be, and equally catchy and melodic in other parts. The Seduction of Indulgence is short, but interesting and somewhat immersive – listen through headphones for the full experience. Finally Free is the perfect follow up, and again deserves to be heard through headphones for the full experience. There is a lot going on here.
Can You Hear Me is the latest single to be released, and deservingly so. This is the sort of track that made Korn a household name. It’s emotional and personal, but not in an uncomfortable way, and musically it’s ripe for radio play.
On the other hand, The Ringmaster is heavier and a little more quirky. This is a highlight for mine. Gravity of Discomfort sees the band connect the dots between earlier sounds and their more modern era material – even touching on elements found on The Path of Totality at times, while H@Rd3r proves to be another highlight as it pounds it’s way through. I recently found out that Davis was never in to metal music growing up – he was a fan of Duran Duran and artists of that ilk. That makes increasingly more sense as you dig through Korns back catalogue, and might shine through on this album more than any. But those influences combined with the bands heavy musical backdrop seem to work well in unison.
This Loss opens with a massive riff, and a vocal cadence that follows the rhythm section, which is interesting enough, but then we’re treated to an immense chorus, and later in the track, a vocal passage that sees Davis virtually crooning. It’s a different track, but winds up being quite impressive.
Surrender to Failure is the closing number of The Nothing. Moody, haunting and subtle would be good ways to describe this track. The vocal performance is the star here. It’s a mild closer, but fitting.
I’m very impressed with The Nothing over all. It plays well from start to finish, and is a great addition to the Korn back catalogue.
Review by Shayne McGowan.