Korn - The Nothing

Korn The Nothing cover
Korn
The Nothing
Roadrunner Records
2019
4.5
The problem with Korn, a band that has been called the progenitors of the whole nu-metal band along with a couple of more, is basically growing old and not at all that well. With them their audience, also has grown in their mid-30s a time when families are had and priorities shift. That fact actually coupled with the fact that the band has not charted any singles at all, even in their native America, since “See You on the Other Side”, which came out some fourteen years ago, is a telltale sign that the band is in decline. Since the 2007 “untitled” album, they’ve also consistently sold less than gold, so we’re talking about really declining sales and relying pretty much solely in their past glories and live activities to continue.
 
While “The Nothing” is somewhat heavy, it can’t feign being “truly” pissed and it shows. Even longtime Korn fans are unlikely to “feel it”.
 
The album begins with a bagpipe intro, “The End Begins”, that has Davis murmuring and crying – both typical Korn-y traits… (ugh) it leads straight into “Cold”, a somewhat decent by the numbers rap-groove heavy Korn number, which however feels more like someone was copying lyrics from Tenacious D… also the groove in the chorus is pretty standard heavy metal… which is weird… I could actually think of a great epic metal band that has the actual same rhythm patterns (cough…“black” JP). Some also decent melodic lines are intertwined in an opening statement, that’s not too bad, but leaves things too much in the balance.
 
“You’ll Never Find Me” that follows feels as if it was pretty much carbon copied from the DNA of the opener, again relying on other bands existing melodies for the bridge… but with a lesser chorus seriously – this was also the “single”? Meh...
 
“The Darkness is Revealing” might open up with some pretty heavy rhythms, but suddenly it becomes way too happy and Linkin Park / nursery rhyme like… not to mention repetitive as hell, the whole gang shouting conclusion is also anticlimactic.
 
“Idiosyncrasy” has some beautiful rhythms courtesy of Ray Luzier and even somewhat of an interesting built, all around, but does drop the ball along a couple of times because of Davis’ emonic ways of delivering vocals.
 
“The Seduction of Indulgence” seems to be more a show off, of a neat rhythm pattern by Luzier that repeats through and through while Davis tries to exorcise his past mishaps, by recounting them, than a song. It’s repetitive but thankfully not too long.
 
“Finally Free” is a repetitive melodic, rap-heavy song that is schadenfreude (happy-sad) and even though repetitive, passes reasonably easy. Its predictability seems to be its Achilles heel, as what might have seemed cutting edge in the 90s now feels like a tired trick that’s been done far too many times.
 
“Can You Hear Me” is more electro-gothic – if you will – through Korn’s prism and actually ok.
 
“The Ringmaster” tries to pull the same Korn tricks, with mixed to poor results as it seems like a caricature of the bands own past with its goofy repetitions and breakdowns.
 
“Gravity of Discomfort” seems to be onto something, very electronic and effect ridden but also thoroughly melodic. It’s OK.
 
Stylizing “Harder” as H@Rd3r seems like 90s l33t talk, and it feels like the first time on the record the band manages to get its dramatic 90s style right, but it feels a like Korn-lite, in comparison, but at least it has a somewhat catchy melody…
 
“This Loss” tries to repeat harder but tag along some darker elements… it’s not as good and feels to samey tacked this close with a similar sounding song although the groove gets you ultimately.
 
“Surrender to Failure” is a smooth melodic outro that feels hopeless and wallowing in self-pity.
 
Definitely weaker than “The Serenity of Suffering” and “The Paradigm Shift” (their previous efforts), “The Nothing” features a handful of okay songs, but feels so by the numbers and on auto-pilot that it loses all impact very quickly.
 
Repetitive, lacking the super heavy and super clean productions of the band’s earlier productions and trying to shift into more of a poppy-lustre alt-rock sound far too often, it fails to have a clear direction, torn between trying to both be true to the band’s past sound, but also avoiding it, since it doesn’t seem to work anymore to the same effect. I think it has to do with growing up. It ain’t pretty, but it’s inevitable. Thanks for nothing, Korn!