Korn
MTV Unplugged: Korn


3.5
great

Review

by scpttrerulz USER (14 Reviews)
April 1st, 2007 | 62 replies | 10,723 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Interesting....

8 of 9 thought this review was well written

Fathers of Nu-metal stand! Who would have guessed back in 1994 that a band with a whiny croaker as their vocalist, two sludgy down-tuned seven string guitar wielding axe-men, a bassist who slaps away his five string like there is no tomorrow and a drummer going back to the use of acoustic drums after the electronic drum frenzy of the 80s and early 90s would have helped break a perennially boot-legged form of music still reeling from the death of glam and the waning of thrash and heavy sonic assaults into the mainstream? I don’t think many saw that coming. But as it so often happens in life (being stranger than fiction and all), it happened. Nu-metal was born and thus far it has survived.

Zip forward 13 years. Several chart topping albums and a roller coaster career ride later, the band starts to look like it’s, well… growing up. While still trying to keep the whole angry thing going, it’s very apparent that they are, in a way, maturing with their musical styling sounding more restrained with each album. See You… also saw them experimenting with sonic dynamics, softening up to give more haunting melodies to perpetuate their “dark” sound and it worked. Then they announced Unplugged and everyone just got confused.

Admittedly, it gave me a headache when I tried to think of how they would pull off stripped down versions of their songs. I’m sure it gave the band their fare share of them too. After all, their songs are known for the brutal sonic assault of the twin seven stringed Ibys. At this point some smart a** within the band think tank must have got a “rad idea” and said “I know… let’s change the arrangements on the songs completely!...” and then suddenly shut up not knowing how to go about executing said “rad idea”.

Enter close friend, film composer and producer Richard Gibbs (Queen of the Damned, Dr. Dolittle etc…). His creative mind added four celli, two basses, two cimbassos, two bass /contrabass trombonists, a saw player (that’s right… A bowed saw…), a glass harmonica player, choir bells, and a six person taiko ensemble to the KoRn lineup. In addition to this they ended up adding several percussion kits. So how did this incredibly diverse, large (for an unplugged thing since it’s supposed to be an intimate experience) orchestra work out for the band? Surprisingly well, actually.

It’s very apparent here that their modus operandi was to a large extent a direct progression from See You…, namely to keep the songs dark when going soft, one has to make them haunting, more melodic and atmospheric and load the low frequency end of the orchestra (which is what Wagner did to make his music dark) which is very apparent from the list of orchestral instruments added to the KoRn ensemble.

The first thing that one notices while listening to the “new versions” of the songs is the whole latino thing they have going. A very large set of percussion instruments used see them going into a very salsa style and it becomes glaringly apparent in the first song itself: Blind. Why glaringly? Because it’s not pulled off well in the opener. The beginning sounds… well… just bad. The rest of the song picks up… and grows on you after a couple of listens but still… just no. This was definitely a mistake. The other song that was a mistake on this concert was Creep, a Radiohead cover, since it contains nothing special and is marred by Jon’s whiny voice (especially when he goes into the high “Run!” of the song).

The rest of the songs, however, reflect good song choices, and when executed, show that they have been well thought out. Highlights include Freak On A Leash featuring Amy Lee, who is spectacular in the song, especially in the bridge. The song starts soft and haunting and climaxes very well. Twisted Transistor is also very well executed with the main riff being carried off by the strings section which, with the percussion, gives the whole song a very oriental-meets-tribal feel. The piano at the end of the song gives it a very nice touch (as with most other songs).

The other guest appearance on this record is by Robert Smith and The Cure and their mash-up Make Me Bad/In Between Days is actually entertaining. Both songs were well selected and merge well. The rest of the songs have their highlights like the backing in the verses with the chunky bass riff in Got The Life, the string staccato sections in Coming Undone and the Taiko Ensemble in Throw Me Away, and end up being oddly satisfying listens. The diverse orchestra used also helps overcome the all-the-songs-sound-the-same problem that many complain about.

The band members themselves get overshadowed at a lot of points in the concert but they have their moments. Munky’s guitar work throughout proves that, while he is no guitar god, he can definitely play. The small yet well done flamenco styled solo done after Blind is definitely his moment. Fieldy’s bass is chunky and heavy as usual. Jon Davis has both high and low points, high points being nearly all KoRn songs where he sings solo, sounding not too harsh for the music playing in the background and pulling off soft sections pretty well and low points being overshadowed by Amy Lee on Freak… and Creep, which was totally an unwarranted cover to do.

If there was one word to describe what KoRn has managed to do here, it would undoubtedly be “Interesting” – in a good or bad way is for each one to decide. This blend of music and musical genres is not something that can be heard very commonly and therefore warrants at least one listen to decide for yourself whether it is something you like or not, even if you hate the band’s original music. As an unplugged I would possibly think this is a bit over the top but as a performance, I really liked it. One must admit, whether a fan or not, that it takes balls to go to this degree of experimentation and then come out with something that works, surprisingly, this well within the context of the songs. Overall, better than good but a shade below great

My rating: 3.3/5

P.S: The fact that I don’t talk about lyrical content is an indication of how redundant I find them.



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user ratings (248)
Chart.
2.5
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
scpttrerulz
April 1st 2007



130 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wonder what kind of response this will get... KoRn doesn't really get too much love here...
Neways ... cheers and enjoy!

ValiumMan
April 1st 2007



493 Comments


Saw this live(???) on MTV. Apart from the fact that I don't like Korn, my impression wasn that it severly lacked dynamic, plus Jonathan Davis completely ruins the chorus of Inbetween Days. They should have had Robert Smith handle the whole thing. And aside from that, why the hell does he make those strange movements with his head all the time?
Solid review.This Message Edited On 04.01.07

scpttrerulz
April 1st 2007



130 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thnx man... You're dead right about the dynamics part. Even I found them lacking there. I tried to keep this one to an entertainment value level though so I tried not to dissect the music here too much...

indietrash
April 1st 2007



85 Comments


good review.
Korn used to be a great band. Untouchables is their last good album, though.
and Davis totally ruins Inbetween Days.This Message Edited On 04.01.07This Message Edited On 04.01.07

chimera908
April 1st 2007



713 Comments


Now I will say I hate Nu Metal, it gives all of metal a bad reputation. And Korn is one of the worst Nu Metal bands out there for me. This live album just seems like a horrid attempt to get more mainstream than they already are...ugh. Despite this your review was excellent so congrats on that.

Royd Rage
April 1st 2007



419 Comments


NU-METAL NEVER EXISTED!

it was just a term given to more heavier modern hard rock bands. it was never a genre of metal and never should have never been mentioned.

as far as their last good album i actually think see you on the other side was better than untocuhables.

and as for the unplugged show johnathan ruins it sometimes by using vocal dynamics the wrong way. he was singing the same way he was on the records and it kind of ruins it sometimes. i mean he can really sing and he should have taken the time to show that. i don't know why they rearranged everything else about the music but he sings the same. makes no sense.

also freak on a leash and got the life could have and should have been left out. as well as coming undone.

other songs like justin or seen it all or no ones there should have been in there. alone i break as well.

all in all it was a nice try at going in a new direction but it seems rushed and they could have did it better.

although i have to say if the new album is this adventurous than i will be listening.This Message Edited On 04.01.07

Cravinov13
April 1st 2007



3854 Comments


NU-METAL NEVER EXISTED!

it was just a term given to more heavier modern hard rock bands. it was never a genre of metal and never should have never been mentioned.


The ignorance of that statement is immesurable. Nu-metal has been a genre of music since Anthrax collaberated with Public Enemy, and it is most easily defined as 'New Urban Metal', which is basically a form of rock/ heavy metal blend that is musically powered by groove orientated bass-lines, simplistic guitar structures, jazz or hip-hop based substructures, and lyrical expression of angst/ anger usually displayed in childish way (see first Slipknot album). The genre was coined by Korn and pioneered by Korn, Limp Bizkit, early Deftones, and Coal Chamber in the mid 90's. As a genre now it is considered dead with a few bands either changing to a more hard rock style (see Disturbed and Staind), or a more industrial style (see new Korn and Deftones).

Doppelganger
April 1st 2007



3124 Comments


Despite how great your review was, nothing well ever make nor interest me in buying a KoRn album.

And Cravinov, you hit the nail on the head.

Cravinov13
April 1st 2007



3854 Comments


I've done my research. :]

Oddsen
April 1st 2007



1127 Comments


really nice job

Brain Dead
April 1st 2007



1150 Comments


Great review, Korn = poo.

indietrash
April 1st 2007



85 Comments


Cravinov - using Limp Bizkit in the same breath as "metal", "nu-metal", "Deftones" or even "Korn" - is a nono :p

MrKite
April 1st 2007



5020 Comments


Top notch review, man.
I saw two of the performances from this and I thought the vocals were just horrible. I can't compare them to the original songs, though because I've never heard an original Korn song except Twisted Transistor.

scpttrerulz
April 1st 2007



130 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thnx guys... I know not many people will end up liking this and the positive reviews of this are admittedly rare on the internet. Weird thing is though, I enjoyed it. Surprised me too. Some feedback on a review of mine after some time really...

chimera908
April 1st 2007



713 Comments


As much as Limb Bizkit sucks it was a Nu Metal band and in the same genre as Korn and Deftones. Shows why so many metal heads hate Nu Metal. There are some exception not for me personally but I've seen some metal heads who hate Nu Metal enjoy bands like Mudvayne and Devildriver. (The latter is only semi Nu Metal)

By the way Amy Lee's vocals on Freak on a Leash are great. I only know because I heard it in Hot Topic. Blasphemous I know but I was looking for an Opeth shirt, of course they didn't have one.This Message Edited On 04.01.07

Cravinov13
April 1st 2007



3854 Comments


Wheither you like it or not indietrash, Limp Bizkit is in the same genre.

Mudvayne stand as probably the most complex and original nu-metal band, and I don't consider Devildriver nu-metal, more or less a style of deathcore (metalcore with a death metal edge but from a nu-metal background).

chimera908
April 1st 2007



713 Comments


I suppose thats true about Devildriver but Dez Fafara was from Coal Chamber and I think Nu Metal has a slight influence on Devildrivers music. But overall they're probably more deathcore than anything.

Cravinov13
April 1st 2007



3854 Comments


Yeah, Dez can't escape his Coal Chamber background no matter how much he wants to.

RottedFlesh
April 1st 2007



213 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Totally not feelin this...

MrKite
April 1st 2007



5020 Comments


Wow, haven't seen you in a while.



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