When I first started getting into heavier music as a kid, Korn was probably the first band I started paying attention to. Well, actually it’s more of a tie between Korn and another spectacular nine-piece group from Des Moines, Iowa; but as the title of this post suggests, this is a Korn-centric post. Now, let me clarify. I first started getting into heavier music before this… I was raised with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motorhead,etc. thanks to my awesome parents. I still love and listen to those bands to this day as well.
What I am talking about here are the heavy bands that I discovered on my own. The ones that weren’t in my parents’ record collection. Of all the bands I started getting into on my own, the two I just mentioned are my all time favourites. Not just because they opened me up to a whole new world of music, but because their music spoke, and still speaks, to me on such profound levels.
It was eighth grade when I first got into Korn (holy crap, that was 17 years ago… not that that makes me feel old or anything). I remember one of my old friends, Dave, would always come to school in a different band shirt every day. One day, he was wearing a Korn shirt. A shirt that he had worn so much that the black had faded into gray. I asked him in the middle of Ms. Gordon’s English class one day who Korn were. He identified each of the caricatures on his shirt as Jonathan Davis (the singer), Munky (guitars), Head (guitars), Fieldy (bass), and David (drums). My interest was sparked. After class, Dave handed me his Walkman (remember those?!). I hit play and the music that hit my ears was life-changing. I was listening to Korn’s second album Life is Peachy. My friend told me the track numbers of the songs he liked best and told me which songs I should listen to to really get an idea of who Korn is. I had never heard anything like this before — Jonathan Davis’ signature vocals on “Twist,” the incredible guitar work of Munky and Head, Fieldy’s iconinc bass sound, and David’s grooving drum beats. When I got to the album’s closing track, “Kill You,” that did it for me. The emotion and the passion and the intensity and the pain Jonathan Davis put into that track made me a Korn fan for life.
Shortly after falling in love with this album and band, I got my hands on the self-titled debut as well as Follow The Leader, Korn’s third album. FTL was such a mind-blowing album. I mean, they all were (and still are), actually. But I just remember playing FTL through my headphones for the first time and thinking Ho-ly-shit. Tracks like “It’s On!”, “Got The Life”, and “Dead Bodies Everywhere” had me destroying my ear drums. I started wearing Korn shirts too around this time period. A lot of them. My closet was about 80% black shirts and 90% Korn shirts. I wouldn’t be seen around the school hallways without my trusty Korn “fReak” baseball cap firmly and proudly on my head. After waring out the Korn albums I had acquired so far, I came across Issues. Issues Instantly became my favourite album. Even to this day, after all the albums the band has released, Issues remains my favourite Korn album and one of my favourite albums, period.
There was something about the darkness and overall sound of Issues that was different for me than previous albums. The riffs and the drumming were so on point and Jonathan Davis was in top form as usual. As soon as I’d listened to this album front to back for the first time, I knew it was my favourite. This was the album that I would’ve recommended if somebody had asked me to introduce them to Korn. “Falling Away From Me” is such a banger, but it’s hard to single out just one stand out track from this album. My soundtrack to the commute to and from school on the bus became exclusively Follow The Leader and Issues.
After Issues, Korn started kind of experimenting a little more with their sound. This is evident on 2002’s Untouchables. Tracks like “Here To Stay” and “Blame” reminded me of why I love Korn so much, whereas tracks like “Alone I Break” and “No One’s There” really showed the band’s progression. When some bands change their sound and experiment, it doesn’t work very well. These tracks and others on the album, though, worked for Korn. They were still the almighty Korn and held the title of Tom’s Favourite Band. Every school project I did at this point was Korn related. Whether it was an art project, powerpoint presentation, you name it.
Next came Take A Look In The Mirror: Another great album albeit a little less experimental than Untouchables. TALITM turned out to be, at this point, Head’s final album with the band. He left Korn after this album to devote his life to his faith. I followed Head throughout this journey, got his book, listened to his music, and even met him at a book signing. He’s a hell of a guy and was deeply missed on the next few albums. You could definitely tell the influence he had on the band’s sound. His solo work was still very Korn-y, where Korn strayed a little further from their signature sound.
See You On The Other Side was Korn’s first album without Head and their last with David, the original drummer. While this album was still good and successful, it left me wanting more. Next came the Untitled album. If I’m being honest, this album is my least favourite. I feel like Korn sort of lost their way a bit on this release. That being said, they were still my favourite band. My utmost faith was restored in the band when they released their next album, Korn III: Remember Who You Are.
Drummer Ray Luzier became a permanent member on this release and the band returned a lot to their older sound with a more raw, heavy approach. This album sounds like pre-Untouchables Korn and it’s fantastic. This album quickly outranked the previous three releases for me and I became more excited again to listen to the band that changed my life.
Since returning more to their original sound, Korn have released three albums: The Path Of Totality, The Paradigm Shift, and The Serenity Of Suffering. TPOT is a wildly experimental album, featuring Skrillex and a handful of other EDM artists. The Paradigm Shift is iconic because it marks Head’s triumphant return to the band. Head back in Korn = all is right in the world.
Though the band did fall off my radar for a little while between 2007 and 2009, they quickly came back into the spotlight. Their music has done so much for me and means everything to me. Each of the members holds so much talent that cannot be replaced. Jonathan Davis is the best frontman of my generation, hands down. He is the most intense and passionate frontman I’ve ever heard or seen live. I’ve been a huge Korn fan for almost two decades and that won’t be changing any time soon. Korn still remain one of my all time favourite bands. Nu metal may be dead but Korn sure as hell are not. With that, I thank Jonathan Davis, Head, Munky, Fieldy, and Ray.
My favourite Korn albums in order:
- Follow The Leader
- Life Is Peachy
- The Serenity Of Suffering
- Take A Look In The Mirror
- Korn III
- The Paradigm Shift / Untouchables
- The Path Of Totality
- See You on The Other Side