KoRn – Requiem
Released: 4th February, 2022
Jonathan Davis // lead vocals
James “Munky” Shaffer // guitars
Brian “Head” Welch // guitars
Ray Luzier // drums, percussion
KoRn albums are a cause for celebration despite there being little celebration in the music itself. One doesn’t listen to KoRn for songs about butterflies, fans want to hear about the anger of ripping the wings off and then a sincere expression of the guilt for destroying said wings. Since 1994, the Californian quintet have regularly released albums that encompass their core sound of downtuned guitars, thick bass and Jonathan Davis’ multifaceted vocal approach. 2019’s The Nothing was heavy and dark, “offering a more emotive, lyrically in-depth experience for the listener.” Sometimes though, to the band’s credit, they experiment with accompaniment to this core, often with the help of outside songwriters. Requiem then continues down this path. Whilst undeniably heavy, there are melodic moments with strong hooks that will engage long time fans.
First single ‘Start the Healing’ is a fair representation of what to expect. Instantly recognisable as KoRn, but undeniably more pop-like in the chorus, it’s a decent ear worm with a good riff. Despite the trademark muddiness that comes from their 7-string guitars, it’s a cleaner sounding song than their classic era. It fits nicely amongst the ‘radio metal’ singles by bands like Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch. I can’t say I was hugely enthusiastic about it when I first heard it, but I’ll admit it does become infectious on repeat listens.
Where they do draw on elements of The Nothing is the more atmospheric moments that punctuate songs. Tracks like ‘Disconnect’ use keys to increase the drama on the chorus, working with the guitars, before getting down hard on the bridge. On the other hand, ‘Let the Dark do the Rest’ is suitably gothic on the verses but really thunders on the chorus. Both songs are catchy and worth repeat listens. ‘Lost in the Grandeur’ stands out too as the guitarists go all Tom Morello and scratch the strings like records. Davis’ vocal performance is strong with a big melodic hook and the slap bass has a better presence in the mix. The breakdown is an atmospheric lament that gives way to a heavier section of sheer frustration.
There’s still heavy moments too, though rarely is a song nu-brutal all the way through with the band now well versed in utilising the soft-hard dynamic. ‘Forgotten’ is a great opener with a fat guitar sound and Davis switching between clean singing and yelling. Munky and Head get their thrash on at one point, heading into the bridge. The whole thing is built to open a setlist with huge mosh pit potential. ‘Hopeless and Beaten’ has a huge stoner/Black Sabbath thing happening on the intro riff and death metal chorus that is badass, but is also quite goth-emo in other parts. Songs like ‘Penance to Sorrow’ and ‘My Confession’ have a touch of the old school groove and hip hop rhythms the band are known for. Neither offer something new to the KoRn kannon but are decent enough album tracks.
‘Worst is on its Way’ sums things up nicely. There’s an effect accompanying the riffs with Davis, as pessimistic as ever, moving effortlessly from croon to scat to roar. It’s a great little throwback number, capturing some of the vibe of ‘Freak on a Leash’ without flat out repeating it. And that is what much of Requiem is about: it’s faithful without just copying the past, but it hardly breaks nu ground. Fans can take solace in the fact that, after all the band have been through, they are still cranking out records on a regular basis. Requiem isn’t going to end up listed among the great KoRn albums, but it’s short, punchy and hooky. After more than 25 years I reckon that’s OK for a band who are comfortable with what they do.
KoRn – Requiem tracklisting
- Let The Dark Do The Rest
- Start The Healing
- Lost In The Grandeur
- Hopeless And Beaten
- Penance To Sorrow
- My Confession
- Worst Is On Its Way
Don’t forget to check out our Virtual Hangs interview with Munky below
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