Korn – ‘The Nothing’

By Dave Stewart

If you’re a fan of metal, there’s a pretty high probability that you don’t need an introduction to Korn. With their infectious low tuned grooves, the occasional bagpipe solo and the painfully honest vocals of Jonathan Davies, they’ve been providing a voice for a generation as they pioneered their genre and brought it to the masses, tirelessly grinding away for almost three decades. Their brand new record ‘The Nothing’ proves that not only is there still gas in the tank, but it’s nowhere near running out.

The album opens with ‘The End Begins’, flooding your senses with ceremonious bagpipes and dirty distorted bass tones as Davies begins to writhe in pain in preparation for what’s about to happen during ‘Cold’. Immediately bursting into dissonant power, the song quickly evolves into a violent brawl of tone, anger and revulsion seeping out of every single pore. That pained aggression is a common theme throughout the record, swarming in songs like the Pantera-fuelled ‘Idiosyncrasy’ and the frantic and bludgeoning ‘H@rd3r’. There’s so much more than just aggression and frustration on show here, though.

‘The Darkness Is Revealing’ shows Korn at their anthemic best, blending an infectious chorus with unsettling riffing and bellowing vocals – feeling uncomfortable has never sounded so appealing. ‘Surrender To Failure’ displays a tender and delicate side of the band that they often shroud in a fog of volume and distortion. ‘The Ringmaster’ showcases Korn operating in very comfortable territory, thrusting enormous jagged guitars down your ears as Davies’ siren song lulls you deeper and deeper into their grasp. There are even radio friendly hits like ‘Can You Hear Me’ and ‘You’ll Never Find Me’, both of which demonstrate Korn’s ability to blend weighty rawness with insatiable hooks.

The best bits of the album are found in the parts where they dig out a few old tricks. ‘Finally Free’ has riffage reminiscent of Korn classic ‘Here To Stay’, pendulously destroying everything in its path in the most beautiful way. ‘This Loss’ spends most of it’s time tricking you into believing it’s going to be a lullaby, quickly dropping the curtain and revealing that it’s a nightmare in disguise. ‘Gravity Of Discomfort’ has hints of ‘Freak On A Leash’ stitched into its DNA, eerily tiptoeing towards a thunderous and devastating crescendo and they step in and out of so many different vibes during the course of ‘The Nothing’, truly showing how far they’ve come over the years.

This is one of the most consistently solid Korn records in recent years. Something has pissed them off, and they’ve used ‘The Nothing’ to vent their frustrations. There’s an air of familiarity that runs throughout it too – not only is it immediately recognisable as a Korn record, but it sounds like a version of the band that we all know very well. It sounds like old school Korn in so many places, almost as though they’ve purposely produced it to sound like the days of old. The songwriting shows their growth, especially the catchiness of the choruses, but it also displays a definitive nod to their past as it collides eras together to create a fresh yet nostalgic brand of sonic carnage. A refreshingly sharp record from the nu-metal legends.

DAVE STEWART

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