Review Summary: Korn use their Head again.
Korn were on the verge of collapse with “The Path of Totality” in 2011. The bridge between those who thought it was a good experimental album and the opposing heretical reaction was so feeble that the band nearly fell beneath the pressure. But mercifully, Korn used their ‘Head’ 2 years later and released “The Paradigm Shift”, which shifted back to their cherished riff driven, creepier vibes. The one feature that surrounds Korn’s twelfth album, “The Serenity of Suffering”, is rebirth. On this album, Korn don’t just display a few features of their better days like they did with “The Paradigm Shift”, this album sounds like an actual revival of the band.
It’s safe to say that Brian “Head” Welch saved the band in this dramatic period as Korn’s hefty rebirth is mimicked only by the guitarist’s newfound faith in God, quoting that he “feels born again”. The amount of steamrolling riffs that he and James “Munky” Shaffer cram into this album in is genuinely reassuring. Right from the opener, ‘Insane’, Korn rolls up their tracksuit sleeves and knuckle down to business: there’s an eerie atmosphere, infectious chorus and THOSE bulgy riffs that announce Korn are consequently back to their roots. This familiar billowy tone continues throughout the album, peaking on tracks such as ‘Die Yet Another Night’ and ‘Rotting In Vain’. The latter even incorporating Jonathan Davis’s retarded monkey noises that are used on ‘Twist’ (Life is Peachy) that will certainly gain a welcoming response.
Other factors that signal the resurrection of Korn are recognizable characteristics like Jonathan Davis’s dark lyrics and uncanny vocal delivery. ‘The Hating’ confronts controlling urges of self harm where Ray Luzier’s drums do a total back flip at the breakdown, cutting into a short, razor sharp rhythm that are strengthened by the itching guitars which represent the total lack of control the lyrics depict. Davis also uses his perverting, lighter vocals on ‘Black Is The Soul’ and ‘Come for Me’ alongside his gruffer growls with equal proficiency. ‘Take Me’ relies more on an childlike purring towards the last half of the song that’s quite weird to listen to in the midst of his clearer, clan vocals. Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour) also adds his lungs in ‘A Different World’ that increases the anger level already set by Korn. Having used these angst topics of self-loathing, hurt, abuse and crudeness for pretty much their entire career, the style has become overly familiar for Camp Korn, but despite this, Jonathan Davis really is on top form on “The Serenity of Suffering”.
As for progression, there isn’t really any. The production that went into this album is clearer than ever, but still murky enough to deliver the pulverising bottom end, where Reg “Fieldy” Ardizu dwells. It actually sounds like all of the tracks that make up “The Serenity of Suffering” have been based around what they’ll sound like live. The riffs are big, the vocals are charismatic and Fieldy’s slapping bass provides a continuous rhythm to headbang to. The main ‘progression’ to “The Serenity of Suffering” is that is sounds most similar to 2002’s “Untouchables”. But more than anything, it affirms that after nearly 15 years of experimenting, Korn remains a band that are just as important and pioneering as they were when they formed 22 years ago.