Korn – “The Serenity of Suffering”


Korn are back with their second album since the return of Brian “Head” Welch and show the band has fully settled into the groove and style they pioneered before “Head” left the band but have also turned things a bit darker and heavier.

As Korn approaches the 25 year mark as a band, it would be hard to imagine someone not being familiar with them.  The nu-metal band from Bakersfield, California has likely sold somewhere close to 40 million records worldwide and twelve of the band’s albums have reached the Billboard top ten, with eleven becoming some type of platinum.  On the award side, the band has received two Grammys and two MTV Video Music Awards.  Quite a bit of success for sure.  Success often brings with it problems and the band has seen its share over the years, most notably with the departure of Brian “Head” Welch in 2005 after battling drug addiction and becoming a Christian.  Following a performance where he joined the band on stage in 2012, Head played a few more shows with the band and then rejoined the band and would be part of the band’s eleventh studio album, The Paradigm Shift.  Supporting The Paradigm Shift meant a series of tours and festivals which helped further solidify the newly reformed lineup and the band partnered with Nick Raskulinescz for production of The Serenity of Suffering, which debuted in October 2016.

On first listen, Korn fans will notice a couple things about The Serenity of Suffering. First off, the band seems to have once again hit their stride following the return of Head.  At the time, I thought The Paradigm Shift was a return of the “old” or “classic” Korn sound, but really, that album seems a bit thin and perhaps safe in comparison to The Serenity of Suffering.  My guess is that there was still some uncertainty or hesitation at play during recording of The Paradigm Shift and after the success of that album and a couple years of tours and just in general being a band together again, everyone is at a comfort level that the music is coming more naturally.  The other thing that stands out is that this album gets much heavier and darker in tone and feel than some of the previous albums and at times there was almost a Slipknot vibe and not just because Corey Taylor provided vocals on a track.  One thing that hasn’t changed is the random crazy scat vocals of Jonathan Davis, the chunky and pummeling bass from Fieldy, and the interplay of heavy and eerie guitars from Head and Munky.  At the same time, there are several songs on the album that at least start out different from what one would expect from Korn.

The opening chords of “Insane” had me going for a short bit as that sound was a bit unexpected, but the song quickly explodes into something instantly recognizable as classic Korn.  The verses with the eerie guitars providing a backdrop for the emotionally charged if not slightly unhinged sounding vocals is something fans would expect.  Within the song though there is a more melodic chorus with some clean singing that is offset by death growls, screaming and some electronic effects being thrown in for good measure.  In contrast, I would say “Rotting in Vain” is instant classic Korn.   Again we have the bass line and drums providing the backdrop for the verse sections with the vocals this time being shouted over the top.  The clean singing on the chorus again appears here but we also have heavier sections with Jonathan Davis’s trademark scat vocals making an appearance.

“Black is the Soul” is one of the songs that makes a bit of departure from norm with its sung verses that also move Feildy’s bassline more to the forefront in support.  Oddly enough, instead of the eerie guitars on the verses, Davis’s vocals take their place to provide that atmosphere.  “The Hating” starts out with some clean guitar accompanying Davis’ shouting before the downtuned heaviness comes in but the verses don’t have that expected eerie guitar backdrop, opting instead for some heavy palm muting.  Similar, the intricate riff opening “Die Yet Another Night” is something that seems a different for the band and adds some variety to the sonic elements in the band’s arsenal.  What might be the biggest stretch for the band is “Please Come For Me” with verses that have almost a poppy feel to them and really the overall song, just doesn’t have the expected heaviness and as such feels a bit out of place among the other tracks.

If you’ve heard Korn in the past, you will instantly recognize the vast majority of songs on this album as being Korn.  That being said, there is a good bit of variety in song construction, guitar riffs, and vocal patterns and stylings that keep the songs fresh.  By comparison, The Paradigm Shift now sounds a bit forced and safe as on The Serenity of Suffering the band has kept their trademark sound but have added various flourishes in sonic elements and song arrangements to keep things interesting.

Rating: 8.5/10

Written by John Jackson

Track listing:

01. Insane
02. Rotting In Vain
03. Black Is The Soul
04. The Hating
05. A Different World (feat. Corey Taylor)
06. Take Me
07. Everything Falls Apart
08. Die Yet Another Night
09. When You’re Not There
10. Next In Line
11. Please Come For Me
12. Baby (deluxe edition)
13. Calling Me Too Soon (deluxe edition)

Band Members:
Jonathan Davis – Vocals
James “Munky” Shaffer – Guitar
Brian “Head” Welch – Guitar
Reginald “Fieldy”Arvizu – Bass
Ray Luzier – Drums

Record Label: Roadrunner Records, Oct. 2016

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘Rotting in Vain’

Video for ‘A Different World’ (feat. Corey Taylor)

Video for ‘Take Me’


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