Korn
The Serenity of Suffering


3.8
excellent

Review

by Willie STAFF
October 18th, 2016 | 829 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Korn regain their focus and release their best album in 15 years.

Untouchables was supposed to take Korn’s career to the next level. It was supposed to be their Black Album, and they followed its blueprint to the letter. They brought their production to new heights; turning in a huge polished sound that was in direct contrast to their previous releases. They also significantly diversified their style, especially the riffs, and brought hooks and melody to the forefront. For whatever reason, though, Untouchables didn’t drastically increase the band’s fan base, and they have been looking for a direction ever since. Korn have had a couple of ‘back-to-roots’ releases, a couple of ‘flavor-of-the-week’ electronic albums, and a few by-the-numbers albums – and none of them were very good. It also didn’t help matters when the band’s most prolific songwriter jumped ship after Take a Look in the Mirror. This left the remaining members without the ability to do much more than meander through their own tired sound while trying to stay relevant. That relevance didn’t come until their guitar player returned for the release of The Paradigm Shift.

Have you ever got back together with an ex after an extended breakup, and noticed that those first few interactions were cordial to the point of being uncomfortable" That’s how I imagine the recording sessions for The Paradigm Shift. Nobody was willing to rock the boat or push anyone outside of their comfort zone, and the end result was a safe, sterile release – one that was still better than the four previous releases lacking Brian Welch. So, the band regained their relevance and their guitar player, but the music still didn’t justify the renewed interest. With the release of The Serenity of Suffering, Korn finally have the music to validate the renewed hype. There’s groove, crushing bottom end, diverse riffs, melody and hooks, and a top-notch performance from Jonathan Davis. If I had to make a comparison, The Serenity of Suffering honestly sounds like the spiritual successor to Korn’s most complete release, Untouchables, combined with the visceral edge of Take a Look in the Mirror.

Much like Untouchables, The Serenity of Suffering features a huge polished production, solid hooks and melodies, and a powerfully heavy bottom end. It also features a diverse range of sounds, styles and experimentation. The first two tracks display Korn’s archetypical sound at its finest. There’s plenty of lumbering bass, fat rhythmic riffs, and a ton of angst from Jonathan Davis. While being quintessential Korn songs, both ‘Insane’ and ‘Rotting in Vain’ step beyond the bland back-to-roots crap the band have been peddling by approaching that core sound from different angles and doing so with a sense of potency. The Serenity of Suffering isn’t just another attempt at reliving the glory days, though. Beginning with the third track, ‘Black is the Soul’, the band begin to diversify beyond their core sound. ‘Black is the Soul’ is a slower rhythmic track that features Jonathan Davis singing over a keyboard/guitar melody that is carried by an undulating, cyclic bass line. Of course, there’s a quick visceral part in the middle of the song, but what is Korn without a little random anger.

As the album carries on, I hear a lot of Untouchables influence in the diversity of the songs, as well as the strong sense of melody and hooks, but I also hear an aggressive edge that hasn’t really been this pronounced since Take a Look in the Mirror. This is especially apparent in Jonathan Davis’ vocals which include singing, screams and quite a bit of guttural growls (often times layered one over the other). The riffs, too, are more powerful than they have been in a long time; from the atonal squeal scattered throughout ‘Everything Falls Apart’ to the twitchy back-and-forth on ‘Next in Line’. On the flipside, just about every song also features a chorus that can hook on first listen as well as a prominent sense of melody – especially on album closer ‘Out of You’. There are other songs such as ‘Die Yet Another Night’ that feature new facets of Korn’s sound – from the twitchy guitar lead that opens the song to the borderline thrash of the main riff – that show they’re still not done being creative within their chosen framework.

If your stance on Korn is one born of cynicism, then there’s probably nothing the band could do to win you over. Jonathan still wears his angsty feelings on his sleeve, and the core Korn sound is still very much present, but it is being done better than it has in nearly fifteen years. It seems the band have taken stock of their 20+ year career and selected the parts that would best work for them today and combined them with some newer ideas and fresh sounds. The result, to me, sounds like a natural evolution from their best release, Untouchables, with stronger songwriting and a significant increase in aggression. The Serenity of Suffering is easily Korn’s most diverse release; featuring melody, aggression, new sounds and old staples in just about equal measures wrapped into some of the band’s strongest songs in years.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2016


17312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Untouchables is easily my favorite Korn album, and this shares a lot with it. The differences are that this one has stronger songs overall and more diverse riffs, and it is definitely heavier.

FullOfSounds
October 18th 2016


15615 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review man, rating has me excited. I'm not too impressed with the last two singles released tho. Anyway, there's an error in your italicization "Much like [i]Untouchables[/i"

Digging: Hannah Diamond - Pink and Blue

Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2016


17312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I like A Different World, but I think Take Me is the weakest song on the album.

FullOfSounds
October 18th 2016


15615 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good to hear. Insane was incredibly good

Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2016


17312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

I loved Insane and Rotting in Vain. Those are probably the two most conventional Korn songs on the album and they're done really well.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2016


30828 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yes!

Hellscythe
October 18th 2016


2133 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Untouchables is tied with Issues for my favorite so this review has me more excited than I ever thought I would be about a Korn album in 2016.

Digging: Hail of Bullets - III: The Rommel Chronicles

PortalofPerfection
October 18th 2016


1991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't like Untouchables :/



Issues is my shit when it comes to Korn. Still excited to hear this. 3.8 is probably pretty generous though haha. Good review.

Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2016


17312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Issues and Untouchables are definitely my top 2 Korn albums. This is third for sure, though.

TVC15
October 18th 2016


8985 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wtf this is out now? I'm only a huge fan of their s/t but some of the stuff that followed are decent

Digging: Alkaline Trio - Alkaline Trio

Futures
October 18th 2016


9987 Comments


hell yes

Digging: Mogwai - Come On Die Young

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 18th 2016


25159 Comments


awesome

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

Willie
Moderator
October 18th 2016


17312 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

--Wtf this is out now? --

Friday.

Davil667
October 18th 2016


2840 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Very good read Willie.



Untouchables is the only Korn record I really care for somehow so I'm quite curious tbh.

ATARI
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2016


22825 Comments


never really been a fan but either way I thought the review was great

Digging: Amy Shark - Night Thinker

teamster
October 18th 2016


2169 Comments


I am not a fan of the band at all - although I do like Untouchables - if that makes any sense. Will prolly check this because of that comparison you made. Excellent review and thanks.

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JigglyPDiddy
October 18th 2016


3237 Comments


I'M NOT I'M NOT A WHORE

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Gyromania
October 18th 2016


23757 Comments


Haven't read the review but the summary sounds a little elitist

Futures
October 18th 2016


9987 Comments


yes a review that gave korn a 3.8 is elitist. brilliant

kris.
October 18th 2016


14676 Comments


korn are still making music

what a time to be alive



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