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Metal - Released November 9, 1999 | Epic - Immortal

Released in the fall of 1999, when Korn were in danger of being overshadowed by such protégés as Limp Bizkit, Issues reaffirms the group's status as alt-metal leaders, illustrating that the true difference between Korn and their imitators is their mastery of sound. Korn are about nothing if not sound. Sure, Jonathan Davis doesn't merely toss off lyrics, but in the end, it doesn't matter since his voice and the various words that float to the surface simply enhance the mood. Similarly, the band doesn't really have any distinguished riffs or hooks -- everything each member contributes adds to the overall sound -- so, casual listeners can be forgiven if they think the songs sound the same, since not only do the tracks bleed into one other, the individual songs have no discernible high points. Each cut rises from the same dark sonic murk, occasionally surging forward with volume, power, and aggression. It's mood music -- songs don't matter, but the foreboding feeling and gloomy sounds do. To a certain extent, this has always been true of Korn albums, but it's particularly striking on Issues because they pull off a nifty trick of stripping their sound back to its bare essentials and expanding and rebuilding from that. They've decided to leave rap-metal to the likes of Limp Bizkit, since there is very little rapping or appropriation of hip-hop culture anywhere on Issues. By doing this, they have re-emphasized their skill as a band, and how they can find endless, often intriguing, variations on their core sound. Issues may not be the cathartic blast of anger their debut was, nor is it as adventurous as Follow the Leader, but it better showcases the sheer raw power of the band than either. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Metal - Released October 4, 2004 | Epic - Immortal


Metal - Released November 21, 2003 | Epic - Immortal

Just short of a decade into their incredibly successful and influential career, Korn went into Take a Look in the Mirror publicly stating their hopes to record a fresh-sounding album, a seemingly simple task that they somewhat ended up accomplishing. They needed a fresh album -- one that differed from their past couple, the similar-sounding Issues (1999) and Untouchables (2001), yet at the same time wouldn't alienate their notoriously fickle nu-metal fan base. Issues and Untouchables had been fine albums, but Korn definitely needed a change -- if they wanted to remain relevant, that is. There's a lot of turnover in the metal world because there's always the next big thing (whether it's thrash, grindcore, alt-metal, rap-metal, or whatever), and the rare bands that do last (like, say, Tool) do so because they keep changing and therefore retain the curiousity of their perpetually aging (and thus perpetually dwindling) fan base while at the same time drawing in new generations of listeners. It's a tricky business, really -- you need to keep changing yet still maintain your essence. And Korn does that very well on Take a Look in the Mirror, where they deftly consolidate their past strengths and self-produce a succinct album that sounds like trademark Korn -- yet purposefully doesn't sound like any Korn album to date. It's a little paradoxical, but that's precisely what makes Take a Look in the Mirror so interesting, especially for longtime fans. Particular songs draw from past Korn albums -- whether it's the ultramelodic Issues/Untouchables style of "Alive," the overt rap-metal Follow the Leader style of "Play Me," the covert rap-metal Life Is Peachy style of "Y'all Want a Single," or the seeing-red berserk Korn style of "Break Some Off" -- while a few highlights ("Right Now," "Counting on Me," "Did My Time") break into exciting new territory. And perhaps most importantly, Korn keeps Take a Look in the Mirror brief: a baker's dozen in 45 minutes if you don't count the hidden bonus track (their ADD-paced live version of "One" from MTV's Metallica comeback special). Because of the emphasis on brevity and variety (and especially quality), the album's over before you know it and you're left feeling hungry for more Korn. ~ Jason Birchmeier

Metal - Released April 28, 2006 | Epic - Immortal

Usually a live and rare compilation can have a few underlying possibilities for motive: a quick and amicable contractual fulfillment before label and band part ways, a stopgap to release something new for fans in between albums, or a simple compilation to appease a die-hard fan base with cult-like tendencies. Hedging bets, this Korn compilation serves two of those three purposes right off the bat. It's been a while since the group offered something new, and to appease the loyalists who would very well purchase a disc of Jonathan Davis bagpiping English football anthems, Korn had the good sense to compile a disc that's one-half a live recording of their greatest hits and one-half an assortment of rare stuff and cover songs. Recorded in 2003 at CBGB's, Live and Rare is exactly what you'd expect from the band, and for fanatics that's a wonderful thing. But this could also easily serve as a catch-up guide for those who never really were into Korn, but need a place to hear some of their most well-known anthems. Covers of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall, Pts, 1, 2, 3," Metallica's "One," and a hysterical take on "Earache My Eye" round things up and find the band having fun performing covers, much like Metallica's now legendary Garage sessions. Collectors might already have all of this stuff scattered over several discs, but having them remastered and all in one place makes this an attractive disc to add to the collection. It should properly pacify rabid fans until the next full-length comes around, or until that disc of bagpipe anthems finally hits the stores. ~ Rob Theakston


Korn in the magazine
  • Korn: chapter 13
    Korn: chapter 13 With "The Nothing", the kings of nu-metal are back with an album which remains true to the band's beginnings.