Album Review: Korn – The Serenity of Suffering

Korn have experienced something of a winning streak this decade. After the divisive but brilliant ‘Path of Totality’, a creative spark was reignited in the band which, combined with the reunion with Brian ‘Head’ Welch on guitar resulted in the anthemic ‘Paradigm Shift’. So, will twelfth album ‘The Serenity of Suffering’ be the home run we’re looking for?

After promising to sound “heavier than anyone’s heard them in a while,” the Bakersfield godfather’s don’t hesitate to show their chops off on opener ‘Insane’. Throwing up a stomping groove, the album immediately feels grittier and more distorted than their past two releases.

From here, the intensity is turned up for lead single ‘Rotting in Vain’, where James ‘Munky’ Shaffer’s claustrophobic guitar closes in on listeners before Jonathan Davis’ trademark scat centrepiece explodes with a pandemonium akin to being caught in the middle of a hurricane. This erratic energy continues on ‘Everything Falls Apart’ where the tempo is increased amid Davis’ repetition of ‘There is nothing in my head,’ resulting in a soundscape of true panic.

The darkness flowing across ‘The Serenity of Suffering’ recalls 2010’s flawed ‘Remember Who You Are’, where Korn tried to recreate the anxiety of their early records in an unauthentic fashion. But here, tracks like ‘A Different World’ and ‘When You’re Not There’ carry a nihilism which oozes through every single second. The power is bolstered by the purer production they’ve adopted from 2011 onwards, letting every speck of dirt splatter in your ears.

At a time when ‘90’s nostalgia seems to be creeping back into rock, Korn have created an album evoking the roughness of their first albums and translating it into today’s musical landscape, thanks to a thicker production which unleashes layers of dense riffage in cataclysmic form. ‘The Serenity of Suffering’ is just the home run we wanted from Korn, a band that refuse to be confined to the past.

4.5/5

‘The Serenity of Suffering’ by Korn is released on 21st October on Roadrunner Records.

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Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)

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