when korn first started blowing up in the mid-90’s, i fucking hated them.
i hated their fashion. i hated the tone of the guitars, it was too muddy. i hated the click-y bass guitar tone. i hated all the ‘mommy/daddy/nursery rhyme’ bullshit in their lyrics, it seemed so silly and childish. i hated all the minimalist single word song titles that were so popular back then. i hated the lack of 16th note bass drums. i hated that they sounded like lousy musicians who could only play the most rudimentary shit. i hated that their riffs didn’t sound like metallica’s riffs.
in short, they weren’t enough like metallica or megadeth or morbid angel or entombed or type o negative or amorphis or any other band i was absolutely nuts over at the time.
in the early 2000’s, an attractive acquaintance strongly recommended the second korn album to me, life is peachy. i had a crush on this girl so you bet your nuts i checked it out. and i was amazed that i actually liked a lot of the album. there was one track that was basically all rapping and it sucked but the rest was surprisingly heavy. i also appreciated some of the layered sounds and interesting drumming. here’s one that i liked right away.
then someone recommended korn’s first album. i liked the second so much, i thought maybe i had been wrong about the first one. maybe it was good. so i gave it a shot. nope, still hated it. still had all the same complaints.
that brings me to today. it was a nice sunny day and i had to drive to nanaimo to pick up a friend so i grabbed the two aforementioned korn albums to listen to on the drive. for reasons unknown, i threw on the first one. and you know what? finally, after almost 20 years, i really like it.
i now think the guitar and bass tones are innovative and heavy, although in an obviously different way from the typical metal production of the day. i love david silveria’s intricate yet effortlessly funky drumming. i love the space in the music created by the bass and two guitars all playing different parts simultaneously, as opposed to all three playing the exact same part together, which is common in metal. i think a lot of the yells are super raw and wicked. i really like the progressive elements that i never noticed before — the occasional added beat that allows for more emphasis on the lyrics and vocal delivery, the sudden shifts in tempos and feels. i still do not relate to the lyrics much but i like everything else so much that i can look past them, and at least appreciate that perhaps jonathan davis really was venting some deep-seated childhood issues. anyway.
another thing that occurred to me today was that korn were actually really brave — almost punk — to do what they did, when they did it. in ’94 when their first album came out, metal was still all leather jackets, long hair, and tattoos. then korn came out, playing loud, heavy music that had elements of metal in it but was definitely a far cry from metallica or megadeth or slayer, and they were dressed like weird inner city misfits. the group didn’t even have a cohesive look. head and fieldy looked like wannabe mexican gangsters, munky looked like a mean hippie, davis looked like white trash, and silveria looked suspiciously like a jock. i now LOVE that. i think it’s so neat that they had such a mixed up, inconsistent appearance, and didn’t care about it. that aspect makes me respect the blatant disregard for marketing they had back then. they were just a bunch of skids making a new style of music that they really dug. and i think that’s a core quality in a lot of good music.
as they got more popular, i think the quality of their shit decreased. probably due to record company pressure, drug use, internal strife, etc. whatever. i don’t care about those albums. i still think those first two albums are magical, and capture an excitement and enthusiasm that is captivating.
i tried to pick a song from the album to post but i actually think the album is best consumed as a whole, so here it is. as if the rest of the world isn’t already super familiar and done with it.