Review Summary: The beginning of the end of the end of the beginning...
To say that metal has been slowing down at the turn of the decade towards the 90's would be more or less an argument starter. Some of the best metal bands on the other hand are starting to find their wayward pass into obscurity. So where do we go from here? Well, as of 1994, nearly half-way through the decade and a new genre of music is taking place. It already has been taking place for several years, but a new uprising has occurred that will shape the fate of metal for decades to come. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to nu-metal.
It might be that I’m a fanboy, but whenever I hear people insulting nu-metal, I just have to speak up and defend my passion for the genre. This is not to say however that I like bands like Limp Bizkit, or even Slipknot. Now granted, I like me some Slipknot here and there just for something to bang my head to, but Limp Bizkit isn’t nu-metal. It's old school playground hippies throwing out every swear word they know concerning about love, hate, desire, any oxymoron they can think of, and passing off the simplest instrumentation as a compliment to rising musical genius. Yeah right. This new band on the other hand, Korn, has done something different from most nu-metal bands groups from past, present, and future. They actually start something golden, though seen many times before; they do it a much darker and angst-ridden playing field that appealed to me anyway, and thousands of others.
While Korn have a rocky evolution ahead of them, this nostalgic album holds a monumental factor to most of Korn's success here on afterwards. Its simplicity. Korn have spared no expense in creating a catchy, but emotional record that actually holds some meaning to it. Unlike many other groups who employ rap into their music, well, they might as well be Eminem with guitars. It just doesn’t work. But Korn actually attempt to put out something that people could possibly relate to, and on a much more personal level. To hate is to be human, but to release an album purely composed of lyrics promoting nothing more than just that one emotion, is to waste an entire section of the music store and waste people's time. Korn on the other hand, do much more than just hate on this album. The compassion, the love, the desire, and yes, a little hate sprinkled on top, compliments this album nicely, and doesn’t overstay its welcome so easily.
So, this album on the subject of lyrics has set itself far apart from anything nu-metal-like that has ever existed, and ever will exist. This album took no inspiration except from the band members themselves, and about their tortured experiences as children. Back in the 90's, this was actually a cool thing to sing about. Nowadays, we'd probably just boo them off the stage for being "babies", but then, it was a pretty big industry.
The music however, is something of a completely different origin. If it hasn’t come to your attention about how Korn has played for nearly the first decade of their career, then you're missing out on one of the biggest influences to the band's top notch performance. As painful as it is for me to say this, a lot of this album was written, and even played under the influence. Why is that painful? I honestly don’t know. I’m just a little flummoxed at the idea that Korn did better on drugs, than they did sober. But setting that notion aside, this is the single best instrumentation of any nu-metal record I’ve ever laid ears on. There is some strange concept to the instrumentation on this album that'll do one of two things. 1: it'll lay the foundation for everything Korn does in the future, recycled basically, and will destroy ever record beyond after this one beyond repair, and 2: it will show the world the best of Korn’s skill to ever be displayed in any record from the group herein. But at the moment, there is definitely something to be said for each and every member’s contribution to this legendary artifact.
The guitars in this record are first and foremost. Since you have lead guitar, and rhythm guitar being put right behind it, you're constantly getting a battle of riffage all throughout the album. Between Munky shredding in the intros, and putting out in the outros, and Head creating the most eerie guitar lines for the verses and bridges, there is a constant "melody" being presented. On the side of these guitars is a rather convoluted bass, which is utmost significance. Fieldy's bass skills are rather strange in structure. The fact that his bass is a clicking percussion instrument little is left for him to do in most of the tracks except groove along ever so desperately in the background. But as for the production of this record, the instruments come out so clean and fresh. Most of what the band usually does is blacked out, and put to rest along with all the other experimental EP's long since laid to rest. This leaves the band to ride on through the best composed nu-metal record ever to be put out on the market.
So there, Korn have reinvented a terribly executed genre in the most profound of ways, and have slid along a fine line between recycling music, and expired lyrical emotion that has made its way in nice and snug in this wonderful album. While other more obscure bands are dying out from lack of ideas, Korn starts fresh, and rams in through the music industry stronger than any predecessor inside, or outside the nu-metal barrier that will stand for years to come.