Korn III: Remember Who You Are
02. Oildale (Leave Me Alone)
03. Pop A Pill
04. Fear Is A Place To Live
05. Move On
06. Lead The Parade
07. Let The Guilt Go
08. The Past
09. Never Around
10. Are You Ready To Live?
11. Holding All These Lies
I must have mentioned this a thousand times: I used to be a huge Korn fan, and I think I’ll always hold a place for them in my heart, as they are the ones that introduced me to heavier music. As such, the thought of Korn supposedly returning to their roots for their third self titled album was a little exciting, although I wasn’t really holding my breath. I mean come on, how many bands say they’re going to be “returning to their roots” for a new album and have it actually work out as hoped? The success rate is few and far between. You can’t really expect much though, as a lot of these bands have been around for a long time. Bands go through lineup changes and turmoil, managing to stay active long after their popularity has peaked, seemingly against all odds.
Let’s rewind a little. Seventeen years ago, Korn released their game changing debut album, Korn. The album sparked a movement called nu-metal, which gained major popularity and a wave of bands riding on their coat-tails. I regard 1993’s Korn as a classic, to what is sure to be much protest from the metal community. Admit it, we grew up on it and we loved the shit out of that and other Korn albums in the 90s. Along the way, we grew out of that style and into heavier stuff. A dedicated fanbase, myself included, decided to stick with Korn through the years and see what they could come up with. I was on board up until 2007’s Untitled (a.k.a. Korn II). I loved that album and its industrial quirks and experimentation. I think this is the point where I finally moved on though, as I didn’t listen to them all that much since and found it hard to care too much when they announced Korn III.
I had a little hope, however. While it was sort of a trip to know I was listening to some new Korn (I admit, I was sort of excited once the download started), I had my worries. I sat down and gave the album my undivided attention and listened to it several times. I picked the album apart and dissected it, and more importantly, I really tried to enjoy myself. How did it measure up?
It was pretty okay, I guess.
Immediately, I was aware that Korn made good on their word to try to capture the essence of their old sound on this album. You can hear it in the music that they tried really hard to make another old-school Korn record, but the results yield to be similar to 2003’s Take A Look In The Mirror, just not as good. Bear with me here. This is going to be the most honest review I’ve ever done.
The album starts out with the intro “Uber-time”, which samples what sounds like a man giving a science-lecture over an ominous soundtrack which builds into “Oildale (Leave Me Alone).” I thought this song was boring as shit when it was first debuted, but it’s certainly a grower once the juvenile lyrics are overlooked. In fact, the lyrics on this album tend to be pretty ridiculous and dumb, especially when you realize that Jonathan Davis is soon to hit 40. It isn’t my place to try and assume how well JD’s life is going as I really have no idea, but I’d like to think he ran out of shit to be angsty about at his age. At times it just seems like he’s just trying to put himself into the shoes of a younger and more angst-ridden audience and write some lyrics that they may associate with. Sometimes it works, but it often falls flat and seems overly contrived.
I can say that the album does a great job at bridging any gaps between songs, and the album flows pretty well as “Oildale” ends in a purposefully detuned guitar melody that manages to be kind of beautiful, leading into “Pop A Pill,” my personal favorite from the album. Initially, this song hops around with an energy that should be expected from an old-school Korn song. This song captures some of the best vocal work to come out of Jonathan on this album, which is otherwise spotty in its sincere and convincingly emotional deliver. That being said, the song sadly takes a slump during the bridge, where it drags along until reprising the chorus.
“Fear Is A Place To Live” is far too similar to “Pop A Pill” in terms of instrumentals. The verse guitar riffs are too identical for me to listen to these songs back to back and be comfortable about it. Otherwise, this song feels like a cross section of Issues and Untitled. Again, the lyrics here might need to be overlooked by some.
Ray Luzier’s drumming on this album is pretty good, enough for any Korn fan to forget that David Silveria even left. However, I’m not a fan of the drum tone on this album. They clearly tried to go raw with it, but I’m not feeling it. “Move On” is a decent song that has its moments, but there’s not much to tell about it. It sounds like Korn. “Lead The Parade” is another one of my favorite songs from this album, possible the best on the whole album. This song is pretty frantic, with a chorus that lends itself well to their material from Untouchables with it’s darker melodic tone.
“Let The Guilt Go” would be a pretty good song as well with a catchy chorus, had it not been for the song’s bridge. Again, the lyrics are a big issue here, sounding like 6th grade poetry. Here’s a taste:
“I’m such a stupid fuck, listening to my head and not my gut. Constantly thinking, and thinking, and thinking.”
The guitar work sounds bigger in this song, which is great, as this is an issue in other songs on the album, where the guitar tone sounds thin and is buried in the mix. Munky experiments with weird effects and layers as he always has, but I tend to miss those huge and catchy riffs. Fieldy’s bass sounds the same as it was back then, clicking and thumping along the track, which was missed in the band’s last two albums. Welcome back.
“The Past” starts out well, sounding like it could easily fit in with classic Korn songs in the intro and chorus, but slows down for the verse. The bridge has some clapping along over some spiraling instrumentation, which sounds cool enough. “Never Around” is an instrumentally superb song, once again going back to the dark tones displayed on Issues and Untouchables. But, as proven time and time again, Jonathan’s vocal parts are lacking, which is sad to hear as he used to be a hero of mine. He’s the weak part of this album, surely, as it’s evident in the laughing he does in the bridge, which I cannot take seriously.
“Are You Ready To Live” sounds much better on the album in its fully mixed form. This song is a grower too, and unlike the other songs, the strong part here is the bridge that builds up into a climax. Jonathan’s vocals sound very emotional as well. The final song “Holding All These Lies,” while a competent closing song, is probably the weakest closing track on any Korn album. Korn have always been very good at ending an album on a high note in something grand, but this album just falls a bit short of the mark in that regard.
In all, this album has its moments that Korn fans will enjoy. The album is honestly not all that bad, and I can honestly say I expected worse. However, speaking as a Korn fan, this is their weakest album to date. Korn have moved me over the years and I’ll always hold them in high regard, but I hate to say it, they’ve lost their touch on Korn III. Korn should probably, and please excuse the pun here, take a look in the mirror and remember who they are before they come up with anything else.