Album review

Korn : Untouchables

Korn : UntouchablesThey were the first y'know, or at least the first we heard. The waves created by Korn's 1994 debut are still being felt today. It was a new kind of metal, which made everything previous seem quaint and vaguely silly.
    If you want a single band to blame for nu-metal, then Korn are it. But despite quickly established a revered position similar to the previously untouchable Metallica, Korn then proceeded to release a series of albums which had less and less to do with what made them great in the first place . . . once again, just like Metallica.

After 1999's bleak and tuneless Issues, Korn have got a lot to prove. Well, the dense, claustrophobic sound is still here, but unlike Issues there are - wait for it - songs! Okay, Untouchables ain't no Hybrid Theory - Korn have always been a little too odd for that - but in amongst Jonathan Davis' stressed-out warblings, Fieldy's fuzzed-up bass and all those spookycore synths there are definitely songs to be had.
    Untouchables kicks off with the track you will have already heard; Here To Stay is probably the most instant Korn single since Got The Life, and sets the tone for the entire disc.
    Hollow Life is a expansive gothic extravagance that the band had previously hinted at, but never looked capable of fulfilling. Layered sub-choral vocals augment the core Korn sound to great effect, resulting in what is probably the album's high point.
    One More Time is the track with the big glossy chorus, and the fact it is so unexpected makes it all the more welcome. Embrace's primitive beats and barked vocals bring to mind Mudvayne's Dig, and Beat It Upright is a skewed look at Rick James funk that only Korn could manage.

Okay, Untouchables is far from perfect. The lyrical content still solely revolves around Davis' mostly unnamed fears and torments, and the Korn sound has evolved into an unwelcoming mire that doesn't exactly invite new converts to the Bakersfield cause.
    However, Untouchables is the first Korn album in a long time I'd let anywhere near my car stereo, and it's a vast improvement on their last couple of efforts. There are few real gems, but every track is listenable, and this time that's more than good enough for me.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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