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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Call It A Comeback

It's been 17 years and change since KoRn hit the music scene, and with 8 albums under their belt, 32 million copies sold, 2 Grammy Awards and a new lineup KoRn has just released their 9th album, titled "KoRn III: Remember Who You Are". The title refers to their first two albums recorded with Ross Robinson who returned for the new album, as though they're picking up where they left off with him. Many will call this album a "return to form" or "rebirth" or even a comeback, but KoRn never left; they just lost touch with what got them started. Guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer said "You can lose focus of why you wanted to start playing music in the beginning because you can get caught up in the money and the fame and the traveling. It’s kind of like, ‘OK, let’s hit the reset button.’"

After the release of their first hits compilation, "Greatest Hits, Vol.1", founding member and guitarist Brian "Head" Welch left the band to pursue religious interests. The band went on to record "See You On The Other Side", their first album as a four-piece band, before drummer David Silveria left on an "indefinite hiatus", eventually replaced by Ray Luzier who is on the new album. Bassist Fieldy has expressed excitement over the new direction of KoRn, "Ray is like the missing KoRn member we never had", going on to say "We know what we're doing on stage with each other, and everybody's on the same page. I've waited my whole career for KoRn to sound like we do now."

The verdict is in, and I couldn't agree more with Fieldy's comments. This album has KoRn sounding fierce, tight and focused and they've rediscovered that raw aggression found in their earlier albums. The first single and album opener (after "Uber Time" intro), "Oildale (Leave Me Alone)", is like an explosion from the first note, opening the floodgates for the raw energy that has been missed for many years. The video for the song and the photographs in the album artwork were shot in the fields of an oil refinery just outside of Bakersfield, CA where the group was founded, and ironically where Munky's father's was transferred to for work which led them to move to the area. The second track "Pop A Pill" sounds straight off the first or second album, a complete and perfect nod to their early days, followed by "Fear Is A Place To Live" which could have easily been on "Issues" or "Untouchables". The album never lets up, every track paying homage to the past with renewed energy.

I wish they would have found Ray 2 albums ago, and made this on the heels of "Take A Look In The Mirror" which is a great album, but the last to feature the original lineup. Making this album then would have saved us from "See You On The Other Side" and the "Untitled" album which played out merely as contract obligations, with only about 5 decent tracks total between the two. If the new album is any indication of what the future may hold for KoRn, these guys are just getting started. I highly recommend this album, next to Follow The Leader and Issues, it's among my favorites already.

Notes about Special Edition: The DVD features in-studio music videos for each track on the album which contains footage of the making of the album, but all edited in, so there are no interviews or insights by the band. There are 3 bonus tracks, one of which is a live performance of "Blind". Honestly, I don't think these bonus features give any added value to this release. The music speaks for itself so just buy the album.

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