KoRn are undeniably the band that led the whole ‘nu-metal’ movement in the 90s, arguably the most mindlessly maligned genre in history. And now here they are, over two decades later, still making great records, putting on monstrous live shows and making a complete mockery of the whole ‘nu-metal is just a fad’ nonsense.
You have to admire bands that strive to experiment and do something different on every release, to never slip themselves into auto-pilot, keep making the same album over and over and just change the lyrics, and Korn are absolutely one of them. They may not knock the nail fairly and squarely on the head every single time, you may still cling desperately to the old ‘nu-metal is crap’ ideology, you may not like the band’s music at all, but you cannot not respect Korn.
The Serenity of Suffering is kinda their ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ moment, in that it very much harkens back to their true creative heyday of the mid-late ’90s. The enormous grooves are back in full force, as are the dark, discordant but still soaring choruses. It’s great to hear Jonathan Davis scatting furiously again too, and it seems he’s still pissed off with his life and the world, almost to the point of depression and suicide (you can tell just by looking at the songs titles, ‘The Hating’, ‘Rotting in Vain’, ‘Insane’, ‘Everything Falls Apart’, let alone reading the lyrics and experiencing the angst-driven passion of his delivery). There’s just that general vibe of massively de-tuned heaviness on this record, that was present most strongly on their first three releases.
Of course, this makes TSoS markedly different to their last few releases.
The songs are excellent, some of the best of their career. ‘Insane’ fairly explodes into the consciousness of the listener, and says, in no uncertain terms, that ‘heavy Korn’ is well and truly back. The aforementioned ‘The Hating’ is a bludgeoning, harrowing journey into the psyche of a twisted, demented individual. On the other side of the coin, ‘Take Me’ is bouncy and catchy as all hell, although still heavy. And the contribution of Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on ‘A Different World’ is tastefully brief, but highly impactful, as you’d expect.
The Serenity of Suffering is yet another superb addition to an illustrious body of work. This band puts out stuff with incredible regularity, but it’s virtually always strong. Quantity with quality is an excruciatingly difficult goal to achieve, but Korn have nailed it like a ten-ton hammer.
Reviewer : Rod Whitfield