You would have to try really hard to find a better record of the time than KoRn’s debute album, KoRn! Released on October 11, 1994, through Immortal/Epic Records, the record (and the band) rewrote how Metal was played and how it was supposed to sound. In fact, it was the beginning of a whole new genre – Nu Metal.
The iconic album cover depicts a small girl bringing her swing to a stop as she squints to see an ominous figure standing before her holding knives. A shadow of the figure and the knives is all that can be seen in the art. Speaking of shadows, the little girl’s shadow appears to depict her hanging from the KoRn brand. Intense!
Korn recorded almost the entire album with all members playing (and singing) simultaneously, rather than the normal routine of tracking one instrument at a time. They felt that playing as a band captured the distinctive sound and quality of the music, rather than the production. Jonathan Davis (vocals) recorded the bagpipes on “Shoots and Ladders” by walking around the parking lot, playing, while a microphone was set up at the back door.
“Blind” is THE song on this record! The awesome dueling riffs of James “Monkey” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch are matched only by the trademark line of Davis, “Are you ready?!?!?!?” “Ball Tongue” is an example of the incredible bass playing of Reginald “Fieldy” Arvvizu, with his patented clicking of his pick-ups. “Shoots and Ladders” calls into question nursery rhymes and their dark meanings of racism, plague, rape, and killing. The lyrics in quite a few of the songs concern experiences suffered by Davis – “Clown” is about a skinhead getting an attitude with Davis, and the road manager knocking the clown out. “Helmet in the Bush” is about Davis’ drug abuse. “F***” is about when Davis was in high school where he was continuously bullied and called names. And “Daddy” is a very dark and disturbing track about Davis being abused by a close family friend. It is extremely graphic! “Need To,” “Divine,” “Predictable,” “Fake,” and “Lies” are the rest of the songs on the record, all dealing with Davis’ experiences. David Siveria plays drums and his quick, snapping hits really add a tribal feel to the album.
This record (and a major motivator for the band) is to be a voice for the voiceless; for those broken, beaten, and scarred. It helps to heal by realizing that you aren’t the only one going through this horrible thing. KoRn knows and understands.
As of 2013, KoRn has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
Favorite songs: Blind and every other song on this record, but especially Blind!!
Rating: 10/10!!! One of my all-time favorites!