Album Review: Korn – The Serenity of Suffering (Roadrunner Records)

Korn are back with their 12th album & their first since 2013’s The Paradigm Shift. Considered one of the pioneers of the nu-metal genre, the band have spent years shedding that skin in a number ways losing fans but gaining just as many along the way.

Love them or loathe them, Korn are one of the most important bands within the metal genre & their approach to each new album is often an intriguing affair. This latest offering sees the band return to a darker & heavier sound then they’ve had for the last couple of albums but with plenty of modern Korn mixed in too.

This album has songs that touch upon many of the important eras of Korn’s back catalogue. Albums like Follow the Leader, Issues, Untouchables & The Path of Totality. It’s an album that seems to be trying to please as many different types of Korn fans as possible resulting in what can only be described as good, not great.

The opening song Insane gets the excitement going, it’s heavy as hell with a rhythm that most would kill to be able to pull off. The chorus is huge & it will bring a smile to anyone’s face even if the occasional deck-scratching noise in the background threatens to distract.

Jonathan Davis’s voice is on fire throughout. The man may be singing, roaring & rum-bap, ba-daing the best of his entire career. It is the sound of a band re-energised & interested in playing heavy music again (remember how uninterested they seemed on Korn III?).

Rotting in Vain, The Hating & Take Me are all huge & chorus led songs with some really dirty sounding riffs. The Hating in particular has this fantastic screaming finish that will give you goose bumps with its intensity. The first half of the album is massively pleasing to the ear but as things progress the feeling that things have hit their peak start to creep in.

A Different World sees Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour jump in for some vocal work alongside Davis but it doesn’t improve the song much. He doesn’t bring anything fresh to a beat that only takes off when the chorus kicks in.

“Feel me, kill me, my back’s up against the wall”

What becomes more & more noticeable are the electronic effects that Korn insist in jamming in randomly at the detriment of a song. Everything Falls Apart has a groove that flows perfectly alongside a more sorrowful set of Davis vocals but at the last minute it drops into a repetitive line that has jarring background vocals. Sure it builds it into a crushingly good heavy breakdown but the damage is done!

By Die Yet Another Night things start to get a bit boring, the excitement felt at the start of the album has waned & the most memorable moments are the electronic effects but not for the right reason. It’s not that the latter songs aren’t solid, they are but they’re not going on a ‘best of’ anytime soon. This attempt to add as many elements from the bands career results in some seriously head-scratching moments.

Next in Line has way too much emphasis on effects & is the worst song on the album because of it. There is no defending the humming effect that builds up several times throughout, it’s irritating & ruins what could have been a decent song.

By time the opening riff of the final song, Please Come for Me kicks in (such a Korn riff too!) the itch has reached maddening stages. The itch that is a constant reminder that this isn’t as good as it could have been. Thankfully it ends on a high with plenty of that Korn wackiness, disjointed but heavy as fuck riffs, drum beats & great Davis vocals. It’s a strong finish for an album that is only a let-down if you’ve not been paying attention to the band over the last few albums.

It’s a marked improvement over The Paradigm Shift & The Path of Totality. The opening half is almost all killer & some of these songs (Insane, The Hating, Rotting in Vain) will be incredible live. The latter half throws in far too many tacked on effects that don’t improve the song especially when they dominate everything else.

Full Tracklisting:

1. Insane
2. Rotting in Vain
3. Black is the Soul
4. The Hating
5. A Different World (featuring Corey Taylor)
6. Take Me
7. Everything Falls Apart
8. Die Yet Another Night
9. When You’re Not There
10. Next in Line
11. Please Come for Me

Korn - The Serenity of Suffering (Roadrunner Records)
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