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“DD Review: Korn – Requiem.”

Score: 8/10

Korn is still rocking albums out and you know what? You get down with your bad, funky self, Korn. You got a lot of us through some seriously sexually frustrated days in the late ’90s and for that we are eternally grateful. It’s pretty much always a spirited occasion hearing from you.

I was looking at sales of The Nothing (2019) and was pretty pleased to see that it had actually at one point been a “Top 10 Album,” peaking at #8 on the Billboard charts. In terms of sales, to date it’s moved close to 80,000 traditional copies in the U.S., which seems pretty Herculean, given the average person’s willingness to spend any money on music, not to mention the state of commercial rock these days.

But for how marginalized and monopolized mainstream rock music has become these days, any follower of this site should be hip to the dizzying groundswell of vital heavy metal being stamped out and issued to Bandcamp, for one. It certainly seems logical, then, that a large portion of this underground contingent would be feeding into what Korn is doing, which, par for the course, encompasses loud, emphatic nu metal songs that adhere rather strictly to the pop structure but still exhibit a pretty commendable worship of production, a la psychedelic guitar textures and a mix that seems to pledge allegiance to the live sound. It’s my estimation that this band’s live gig is still a pretty kickin’ time, to this date, particularly if you don’t mind losing your hearing for a couple of days.

But live tours are almost kind of an afterthought within this particular discussion, since apparently that’s not how bands make money, and even the innocuous and stylistically median The Nothing was able to, at least I think, carve out enough of a commercial bastion as to see the band coming out ahead in the game. Korn are rock stars of the studio in the 2020’s, like a more redolent, panoramically conscious reincarnation of Stabbing Westward. And I mean, they’re not trying to be some geeky uncle savior of your birthday party like Pearl Jam, so that’s good.

Pretty much every initial compulsion to claim “retread” here could very well be accompanied by the realization that, da**, these guys are just having fun going into the studio and bashing it out. They’re still a five-piece, composed of pretty much all the same members they had on their last album, and the presence of a real-life drummer infuses this project with an undeniable element of vitality. By “Disconnect,” it seems, we’ve heard pretty much every different type of guitar sound on the planet, with it coming to a glorious head on this track in the form of this kind of cornered, mousey sound that’s still bulbous and prominent, as if to mimic, hey, a “freak on a leash,” or something of such iconic whereabouts. “Hopeless and Beaten” stalks the ear drums deliberately and uncompromisingly, walking a solid, bludgeoning verse of palm muting and percussion pauses into a chorus that toggles nonsensical screaming and Johnathan Davis’ trademark whine, all to multi-pronged, hypnotic results.

If I know ’90s people, they’ll complain about the length of this album, or lack thereof, and probably not completely without reason. They apparently don’t have their own studio, to this date, and the stature of this LP will entertain that they’re using valuable studio time and facing with the rising cost of pretty much everything this days (or just shi**iness of the dollar, depending on how you want to look at it). Within these parameters, truly, the band cannot be epic. What they lose here, though, they do make up for in variety, thanks in large part to Davis’ knack for shifting vocal techniques and altering what sonic jungles he’s going to drag our astonished heads through, on these albums. If Requiem proves anything, I’d say, it’s that the new direction of rock doesn’t have to be stylistically measurable or “vanguard,” in the traditional sense of the term — it can always just entail a revitalized and fresh appreciation for the craft, and a canine will to plug in those Fenders and reshape our lives, time and again.

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