Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Headstone For The Dear Departed

Korn – See You On The Other Side

Seeing as I was going to see Korn live I figured I may as well familiarise myself with their new album. I needn't have bothered. It's not very good and at the concert they only played two non-single songs from See You On The Other Side anyway. On past albums Korn have definitely had their moments but from the high water mark of Issues and Untouchables it's been a rapid decline through mediocrity (Take A Look In The Mirror) to rubbish (this album).

To be fair almost every song has at least one point that makes you sit up and pay attention, but mostly it's just more of the same old, delivered without much inspiration. Losing a guitarist doesn't seem to have made a whole lot of difference to their sound, it is a little sparser and more open sounding but that probably has more to do with the production than the reduced line up. The album was produced by the eternally rocking Atticus Ross (Trent Reznor's favourite pet producer, and the musician behind 12 Rounds and Error) and The Matrix, a production collective who in the past have bought to life the inspired vision of such honest, soulful artists as Hilary Duff and Avril Lavigne. Ross seems to have done a very good job providing some cool ambient intros and industrial background effects, but his presence is overwhelmed by the heavy hand of the pop producers. While taking a the music of a band like Korn, heavy but with mainstream appeal, and giving it a dash of pop seems like it could be an interesting idea on paper, the result is pretty bad. Basically The Matrix (credited as co-writers for the whole album) have run everything through the bland-o-tron, leaving any potentially interesting musical ideas adrift in a sea of crap. Take A Look In The Mirror was worth a few listens because even when it was bad it at least earned points for containing a reasonable dose of balls out metal, See You On The Other Side goes for quirky and weird instead but it's attempt is emasculated by the need to be radio friendly. Maybe if Ross had been the only producer it would have worked. Oh well Atticus, at least you tried.

As always Jonathan Davis' vocals are the best thing about Korn, and he does a good job both with the heavier parts and with his singing. As always his lyrics are the worst thing about Korn, if you've listened to any of their previous six albums you've heard it all before. The lyrics are probably at their best for 'Twisted Transistor' and 'Getting Off', which might have stupid subjects but are at least slightly clever. This leads me to conclude that Korn should abandon the angst, as it's not really working for them any more, and move towards what has always been their obvious strength since the days of Life Is Peachy and 'A.D.I.D.A.S.', writing stupid songs about sex.


andrew brown said...

in my opinion

I barely listened to the new album, despite being a massive korn fan for years, but every impression I got was pure ass. when issues bought in the industrial element, they turned to crap. some how they had a breath of fresh air with 'take a look in the mirror' but now they've gone under completely. i used to like jonathans singing, but he sounds so different these days, and in my eyes, so much worse. maybe if he stopped singing about how much he hates his life he might be able to see something good in it. their first 3 albums were good and solid, a lot of people only hold the first 2 in high regard, but follow the leader was pretty damn good even if they bowed down to the rap gods.

korn could have done such better things, they now have this formula and every song of theirs seems to follow it, and it's depressing because i love their sound, just their songs now suck.

i think post FTL, you could combine all the good songs onto one decent album, but no more.

and the best of sucked, because it had like 12/13 songs from their latest albums and only 3 from their first 2.. what the hell?

and how boring has david got on the drums, for a while he half revolutionised (lol not quite) drumming, but then lost it.

it's like every album after FTL they were trying to repeat what they had done in the past, but kept overshooting the mark, no balance left...

it's a shame really :( i wanna go listen to 'my gift to you' now, man that's an awesome song.

Jon said...

Well again I think I'm going to have to disagree with your musical opinion there...

My favourite Korn album is Untouchables, while I think FTL is easily their worst (first few songs are great, and then it turns to shite).

I forgot to mention the drums, I thought they were pretty good on this album, until I saw them live and he had to have a couple of helper monkeys to play the new stuff.

andrew brown said...

i can't believe you think untouchables is any good, to me it's their 2nd worst... you're trying to wind me up aren't you?

but then again, you like the industrial side of things don't you, like NIN for example, where as I prefer my music heavy and straight forward more, like metallica or pantera, and korn's first albums were more like normal metal and less industrial but changed that way later on

Jon said...

No I'm serious! I really liked the heavy/gentle contrasts on Untouchables, sure there were more than a few shit songs but that's par for the course with Korn. Yeah, I guess it's easily their least metal album though so if that's what you're after you'd definitly be disappointed.

Joel said...

I liked Untouchables too.

But then I hate Metallica.
("Ohh napster is stealing our profits, lets sue them even though we are rich fuckers!" + crap music = strong dislike on my part.)

Jon said...

It's true, people who like Untouchables are a rare breed.

I like old Metallica, and the Napster business didn't bother me too much as long as I looked at it as them sticking up for smaller bands who don't have their clout. On the other hand they were already on notice after Reload and I completely disowned them for St. Anger.