The Grand RElistening part 10: Korn – S/T

Korn - S/T

Korn - S/T

Back in my teens when I first got into rock and metal music, primarily through the gateway of Nu Metal I considered myself a reasonably large Korn fan, back when they had only released four albums and seemed to be important in the eyes of my peers and the media I consumed at the time.

I stayed with the band with reducing interest until around 2005, but after that my mind just turned off to them completely and forever and I never again had any urge to buy any of their records, see them live or basically pay them ay attention whatsoever, even the material I already owned.

A few times since, I’d put on an album and try and get some enjoyment out of the band, but with the exception of a select few tracks I just cannot seem to enjoy the band at all anymore. Even their latest, supposedly “return to form” album that tried very hard to win back the many ex-fans like me who stopped caring, did nothing to win me back.

Now, re-listening to this Korn debut feels almost a chore. Even back at the height of my Korn fandom, this was always my least favourite Korn album and the hardest to sit through a whole playthrough in one session. The album has qualities that I don’t care for; qualities shared with the worse aspects of Soulfly’s debut album, Sepultura’s Roots, the flaws in Machine Head’s otherwise good Burning Red album as well as just the overall sound of the 1990s in general.

Maybe it was all down to Ross Robinson, he is the producer on many of the albums that I have these problems after all. Then again, maybe it is a tempo issue. Even when this album gets fast, such as on the heavier bits of ‘Blind,’ it isn’t ever actually fast. Listening to a whole record that trundles along at a snails pace is difficult, so difficult in fact that proggier bands like Neurosis managed to make an art-form out of it, punishing listeners with what I like to call catastrophic slowness.

Another thing about Korn in general is the post grunge (not the actual genre called “post grunge”) idea of only really having one real riff in the songs (exaggeration?) usually reserved for the chorus and an end breakdown… and then just having bass, drums and high pitched non-music during the verse. Korn are one of the worst purveyors of this structure style and it is very difficult to enjoy a whole song when much of it feels like killing time until the “song bit” of the song starts.

In addition to not enjoying the overall band as a rule anymore, I don’t like some of the “distinctively Korn” elements at all anymore. I can’t enjoy Fieldy’s bass sound at all anymore, it just feels like its getting in the way. The song would sound as good or better with “normal,” bass. Also the stuff like talking between tracks especially before clown is dreadful, I can’t say anything good about it. The rap/hip-hop/lounge-jazz/whatever sections they stick in sometimes can sometimes be kind of cool, but overall are just pointless and tacked-on sounding.

As well as the bass sound, the guitar sounds just sound all wrong to me and none of the songs sound “proper,” which I put down to a failure rather than a deliberate attempt to be innovative. Sure, in some ways it is produced a lot better than say, Bonded By Blood or Show No Mercy and you can tell how technology and skill moved on, but at the same time there is something unidentifiably ‘wrong’ sounding about this album.

Most of the lyrics had me cringing and have either dated horribly or are only suitable for angry, unlikable teens like my former self. There is very little merit I can find about them now, and I actually want to be kind about them because one of my pet hates is the assertion that something is of literally no-worth or something has literally no value.

The first two songs are a bit rubbish, but have a certain nostalgia factor and can seem like. ‘Need To,’ is utterly terrible except for its ‘I Hate You,’ section.

One song, I actually fully enjoyed was ‘Divine,’ which has a certain mathematical brilliance, which I can’t say for much of the rest of the album. After that, there is less and less that I can enjoy at all. ‘Faget,’ is mostly still a good song despite the clumbsy lyrics, but everything else I could never even like when I loved the band.

From this point to the end, there are a few cool sections, the riff in ‘Predictable,’ for example or the odd vocal pattern here and there but everything in general about the whole album spoils it all for the most part, songs are either repetitive or lack enough ideas to make them really likeable as whole songs.

I’m not even going to bother talking about ‘Daddy,’ save for saying I think the crying is faked and if it ever did happen then it didn’t happen on the take used on the album. I don’t mean to sound harsh or cynical, but I just don’t think that the recording I’m hearing is an actual emotional event.

Overall, I’ve gone off this album and band, I totally refute the idea that it is without any merit and that they are talentless but even so, I don’t really want to listen to this again any time soon. I can understand why people like it, but all of the good qualities in the album are available with other records and bands who had more to offer besides.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice look back. I did like this album quite a bit in my teenage years when it first came out and quickly grew out of it. Spot on with the lyrics, that was a big factor why these guys didn’t stand the test of time with me. And I agree with the bass playing, since it’s so downtuned and loose it really muddles everything else out. I’m surprised these guys really haven’t changed much or evolved over the years and some how can still sell albums. Did you ever see the Beavis and Butthead version “Blind”? I think you might get a good laugh out of it.ù


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