History Lesson: Korn is an American Nu-Metal band from California that formed in 1993. Their current line-up consists of founding members Jonathan Davis (vocals), Munky (guitar), Head (guitar) and Fieldy (bass), along with Ray Luzier (drums), who replaced original member David Silveria back in 2007. The Serenity of Suffering is Korn's12th studio album and for many, a return to form.
For me, and most people would likely agree, this is probably the heaviest Korn have ever been. Certainly heavier than their last album Paradigm Shift thanks to riffs like “A Different World” and “When You’re Not There,” and Jonathan Davis’ use of manic scatting and guttural growls. If you’ve ever heard a Korn album before then you’ll be on well-trodden ground, and I can see why some people do not rate this record very highly in the grand scheme of things because of that familiarity. The same way I can see why people DO rate this album. For example, “Rotting in Vain” is essentially a heavier reworking of 1999’s “Falling Away From Me” with some throat-burning screams and aforementioned guttural vocals. I heard some “Freak On A Leash” in “Baby”, “Next In Line” doesn’t stray too far away from “Make Me Bad” and lyrically, Davis doesn’t surprise anyone who has been listening for the past 20 years. Basically, if there was a Korn bingo game, you’d easily be ticking off the boxes as you go along.
Where this record really shines though is on inventive bridges that switch moods in an instant. “Black is the Soul” feels like a Helmet song for about 20-30 seconds, “The Hating” finishes with some Primus-esque syncopation, whilst Corey Taylor (he of Slipknot and Blabbermouth.net fame) chimes in with some impassioned crooning on “A Different World”.
The Serenity of Suffering is a heavy enough return to form that will satiate fans clamouring for a return to the ‘good ol’ days’ and I would say it stands proudly amongst their discography.
So, have Jonathan Davis and co released their best album in around 15 years? It depends who you ask, I suppose. I personally have enjoyed everything they’ve released since Untouchables. I even enjoyed their foray into Dub step on 2011s The Path of Totality, but there is something very familiar and “Korn like” about Serenity that makes everything feel right and because a lot of people did not like the musical direction that the Head-less Korn were taking, this will go a long way to satisfy them.
All in all, I would recommend this album. It rarely breaks new ground but it is still a worthwhile listen that I have enjoyed on repeated listens.