After “Issues” Korn definitely veered towards metal

After “Issues” Korn definitely veered towards metal

On June 11, 2002 i Korn released their fifth album, “Untouchables”. At the time, the sequel to “Issues” (read the review herepublished in 1999, was defined by Fieldy, the band's bassist, “the most guitar-heavy album we've made so far.” We are celebrating the anniversary of its release by publishing the review of the album that he wrote for us over twenty years ago Giancarlo Cantu.

Korn are back, three years after their last album “Issues”, with a work that definitely veers towards metal. The news is basically this, and more than one early fan will turn up their nose when listening to “Untouchables”. Retracing the history of the Californian group we realize that, in reality, there have always been some changes between one album and another. The first “Korn” of '94 lays the foundations of a real musical phenomenon such as nu-metal. “Life is peachy” stays on the same lengths, darkening its sounds more. With the third album “Follow the leader” the band begins to expand its following of fans, with songs that wink at hip-hop and bring to mind Faith No More. “Issues” represents the most successful combination, up to that point, between the typical Korn sound and the introduction of some short electronic parts.

The first impression you get of “Untouchables” is that it is a CD that moves away from nu-metal to approach more melodic sounds. Bass and drums, which have always been a trademark of the group's sound, are put in the background in favor of the guitars which sound much more metal. Another novelty is represented by the sung parts: Jonathan Davis abandons his typical syncopated and neurotic way of singing in favor of more “ordinary” verses. He then continues the mix with electronics to a greater extent.

The idea of ​​remaining stuck in the nu-metal genre that it itself contributed, in a decisive way, to creating probably weighs on the band. Perhaps because today the field is populated by too many more or less successful followers (Linkin' Park, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach…). The album opens with “Here to stay”, destined to become another classic in Korn's discography, like “Got the life”, “Falling away from me” and “Make me bad”. Songs like “Thoughtless” and especially “Hollow life” are a perfect example of the “new course” undertaken by the group, as is the final “No one's there”. The verses of “Hollow life” vaguely recall the Depeche Mode songs sung by Martin Gore, with Davis' voice in falsetto. “Thoughless” alternates aggressive parts with a rock “hit” chorus, and is one of the most immediate songs on the album together with “Hating”.

Precisely in songs like “Hating” and “Alone I break” Korn show further innovations compared to previous works. Having definitively set aside hip-hop, which built a fundamental matrix of their music, it is Davis's turn to celebrate his love for English new wave (remember that he was a fan of Duran Duran). There is no shortage of “heavier” songs such as “Embrace”, “Beat it upright” and “Wake up hate”, which demonstrate how the five Californians can still be absolute masters of the genre.

It is an album with several new features, which alternates a few “old-fashioned”, heavy and “screaming” songs with many more melodic and sung ones. Despite everything, it can be said that Korn manage to maintain a good part of their original sound, without betraying their spirit, pace the nu-metal purists, and with “Untouchables” they may have released the album capable of giving them the success with an even wider audience. A curious side note concerns the title of the album: one might think that the title of “untouchables” refers to the group. In reality, the idea for the title came from some reflections on Indian society divided into castes.