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KORN - Korn cover
3.86 | 30 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1994

Filed under Nu Metal


1. Blind (4:19)
2. Ball Tongue (4:29)
3. Need To (4:01)
4. Clown (4:37)
5. Divine (2:51)
6. Faget (5:49)
7. Shoots And Ladders (5:22)
8. Predictable (4:32)
9. Fake (4:51)
10. Lies (3:22)
11. Helmet In The Bush (4:02)
12. Daddy / [untitled] (17:31)

Total Time: 65:51


- Jonathan Davis / vocals
- David Silveria / drums
- Brian "Head" Welch / guitars
- James "Munky" Shaffer / guitars
- Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu Jr. / bass

About this release

Release date: 11 October, 1994
Label: Epic

Thanks to progshine, Vim Fuego, Unitron for the updates

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Mashing up meaty alternative metal (on which I can taste the influence of the more accessible moments on Mr Bungle's debut album) and hip-hop beats, and then bringing in the vocal stylings of Jonathan Davis (much imitated afterwards, but unique when this came out), Korn's debut album set the model for nu metal, and as fashionable as it may be to dismiss it on that basis, I can't quite bring myself to.

The fact is that there are a very few albums out there which can simultaneously claim to have originated a subgenre and to be one of the best examples thereof; Black Sabbath's debut is that for 1970s metal, Cowboys From Hell is that for groove metal, and this is the breakthrough album for the nu metal genre. As much as nu metal became associated in later years (not wholly unfairly) with utter frat boy-esque crassness - like jock rock with more rapping and heavier riffs - Davis and crew are clearly much more thoughtful than they are often given credit for.

Davis' lyrics, in particular, deserve praise, tackling subjects from high school bullying (Faget) to sexual abuse and the all too common failure of adults to take childrens' concerns seriously (Daddy). Yes, if you see them written down they don't look like anything special, but as is often the case with lyrics the manner of delivery is as important as the specific words used, and Davis here hits on a lyrical style perfectly tailored both for his vocal approach and the new musical landscape the band explore here.

Some are inclined to run down nu metal simply because they don't think that a fruitful union between metal and hip-hop is even possible outside the occasional novelty number. Those willing to reject such arbitrary barriers, however, will find a lot to enjoy here. Plus the band clearly have a fun sense of humour, as witnessed by the inclusion at the end of the "Michael and Geri" hidden track, a bit of found audio capturing a man getting absurdly angry about a bit of automobile maintenance.
1994 was a strange year for metal, as it wasn't one type of metal's "year" like some years were. Throughout the 80's and early 90's, most genres of metal all had their years to shine. Of course there would always be some great albums from each genre, but many times one style reigned supreme.

I think this is when metal went sort of freestyle, and many bands ended up releasing some of their best and sadly most forgotten albums. A couple of perfect examples being Slayer's Divine Intervention and Helstar's Multiples of Black. Older metal artists had gone to try new things, such as Rob Halford with Fight and his solo material. There were great albums coming out from so many styles, and one band who happened to come around with something new was Korn.

Korn is a band that doesn't get much love anymore. On one side you've got the people who hated it from the start, then on the other you have those who think the band's debut was their only good album and the only good "Nu-metal" album. Nu-metal is infamous for creating a period of stagnation in the metal world, and ironically it ended up having it's dominating years just as every other genre. While I tend to agree that many nu-metal bands were pretty generic or terrible, there are a handful I do really like; Korn being one of them.

Korn's debut is pretty close to groove metal, and at it's core it is. What I think set the band apart was just how dark it was. However, this isn't dark in a gothic or doom metal sense. Korn's debut as well as Issues emit this feeling of complete garbage and being at the lowest point of one's life. This reflects all of vocalist Jonathan Davis's pain he went through quite well. The whole album has a low deep sound, with down-tuned guitar crunch, murky bass licks, and frantic drums. Despite the whole thing sounding like this, I think "Predictable" showcases it best with a slow but groovy dirge. The album does have it's variation though. The aforementioned song's bridge melds a grunge sound with atmospherics. "Shoots and Ladders", despite the lyrics just being a weird reciting of nursery rhymes, is the most unique song on the album with a pretty great bagpipe intro with the crunching guitars contrasting quite well.

One complaint I do have about the album, is that it can get a bit too disturbing sometimes. I love the song "Ball Tongue", but the sounds of Davis being hit over the heard with a board or something and yelling can make one uncomfortable. "Daddy", taking place as the longest song on the album, is also the most disturbing. I think just the fact that Davis used to cry while performing it explains it all.

Say what you will, but Korn's debut was a quite unique album at the time. Yes, it did eventually spawn a brigade of generic copycats and essentially became the glam metal of the late 90's/early 2000's, but didn't many highly-regarded albums do that? This isn't my favorite Korn album, that would go to Issues or Untitled, but it's certainly a pretty damn good album and just stands as another example of how varied the metal scene was during the early/mid-90s. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
Vim Fuego
Where to begin?

This album is a travesty of the worst kind to the world of hard rock and heavy metal. No, it is not metal, but keeps getting lumped in with metal time and time again, as those with no knowledge of metal grope for a label.

I bought this album in 1994, but then sold it shortly afterward. I seriously gave it many a listen to try to see what all the fuss was about. So what did I find? Contrived teen "angst" lyrics, a whiny vocalist who could not hold a tune with both hands and a bucket, stolen riffs, a poor sound quality with over-simplified bass lines swamping everything else, bad drumming, and an overall interest in trying (and failing) to seem cool by being hard done by.

The worst thing about the album is that it enabled this excuse for a band to record several more since, as well as influencing thousands of copy cats, and generally reducing the collective IQ of the youth of this world.

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