Review Summary: An extremely angst filled masterpiece. An overall memorable album with a lot of truly unique aspects.
The debut album of Nu Metal Juggernaut Korn has established the band as a front runner in the metal scene since its release in 1994. The band, somewhat fresh, consists of 5 members, all showing a very unique style that in unison create the sound that Korn is notorious for creating.
The drums on this album are extremely underrated, doing everything that they need to and more. David's style, ranging from impactful entrances and jazz swing influenced patterns, is truly awe inspiring. When these elements are thrown in during groovy riffs and screechy guitar parts, they create a musical aesthetic that all other instruments don't particularly display well in this album.
The guitars work well, bouncing off of each other creating a thick, crisp tone, while leaving room for the pure noise they often make. This shows in tracks like Clown and Ball Tongue, where Munky and Head usetheir guitar to create atmosphere, rather than music. The guitar mixing is also really unique on this album. It picks up more of the mid and high range, leaving room for bass to do it's job, and usually outshine the guitars.
The bass is the instrument that really sticks out on this album. Feildy, being a player known for unique playing style rather than overall musicality, really shows his style in this album. He uses the bass as if acting as a percussive instrument, sounding like if someone slapped wet paper towel on the bass drum head. As unpleasant as it sounds, its actually pretty alluring.
Jonathan's vocals, on the surface, leave something to be desired. It's only when you listen closely that you hear his actual vocal talent deep within the mix. His angst filled voice is really the biggest thing crediting him as a focal point on this album. Lyrically, however, this album is pretty weak. The lyrics, while being well placed, simply don't make your jaw drop. It is the vocal delivery that really reflects Jonathan's capability as a front man.
The beginning of the album features it's three singles, Blind, Clown, and Faget, songs that alone are great, but when placed within a 2-3 song radius of each other, can become quite stale. All other songs on the first half of the album, while containing many similar traits, offer a significant amount of diversity. Ball Tongue, Clown and Faget really display the immature and pissed of side of Korn. This isn't necessarily a bad thing being as that the songs themselves are really well put together. Need To is a song that was clearly written after band had been together for some time. It's one of those songs that seemed to have really clicked. Every instrument works so well together, and the vocals are arguably the best Korn displays throughout the entire album. The cleans sound like those of a man defeated, fed up and contemplating even trying. The yells and screams convey the feeling of hopelessness and anger perfectly. Everything about this song is emotional. A truly great track
The latter half of the album really offers a lot more to the listener. Songs like Predictable, Lies, and Helmet in the Bush are phenomenal tracks that, in the least, entertain. Lies is a song that somewhat steps outside of the box of the album. This song features deathy growls, noisy guitars along with smooth, yet really heavy riffs. This song, along with Helmet in the Bush, really draw the listener back in for more. Helmet in the Bush opens with a humorous answering machine message that's clearly an inside joke with the band, reminiscent, only slightly, of TOOL's "Message to Harry Manback". This track feels a lot like Need To's older brother, offering smooth, yet pent up cleans mixed with distant screams and more experimental musical elements, offering a uniquely mixed with what sounds like a drum machine, demonic, yet edited vocals and noisy guitars molded together with efficiently used bass.
Daddy, the darkest track on the album sounds like a tormented mortal soul, telling a tale of sexual abuse and neglect. The bass and drums really tie in together, showcasing Feildy and David's unity. The guitars offer nightmarish noises, creating an atmosphere of darkness and when paired with the vocals, create a feeling of fear and abandonment.
At the end if the track Jonathan breaks down, crying and gritting his teeth in what sounds like a messy heap as the rest of the instruments slowly wrap up, leaving a broken Jonathan with the sound of a woman's voice singing to him in a soothing way, almost like a nursery rhyme. The drums come back in with a ride and occasional crash as the guitars come back in, basically just for white noise as the album comes to an end. You can eventually hear a door shut in what sounds like the studio where Jonathan was recording vocals and the album ends. This creates a satisfying end to the album. Overall, a classic album in Korn's discography.