"some music was meant to stay underground..."


Sunday Old School: Korn

Photo of Korn

Band Photo: Korn (?)

It was going to happen eventually. Nu metal, or at least what most people refer to as "nu metal," is being covered in Sunday Old School. Somewhat surprisingly though, it's definitely been around long enough to be featured in the column and despite the criticism the genre still gets, there's no denying it was a big part of the late nineties and early 2000s, providing plenty of gateway bands that led young rockers to "true metal." Today, we'll be looking at one of the most successful bands of the era, who many people credit with inventing the style, Bakersfield, California's own, Korn.

Korn began life in 1993, forming from the ashes of the bands L.A.P.D., which featured guitarist James Schaffer, drummer David Silveria and bassist Reginand Arvizu, and who released two albums before breaking up. The three aforementioned members decided to continue working together and recruited a second guitarist, Brian Welch and eventually a singer named Jonathan Davis, who only joined the group after consulting a psychic. That same year, the band released a demo album, "Neidermayer's Mind," which wasn't received particularly well by many listeners or critics, but nonetheless, seemed to attract enough interest to earn them support slots for House of Pain and Biohazard.

Regardless of how, "Neidermayer's Mind" was received, the band were picked up by Immortal Records before long, the label itself being an Epic Records imprint. They got to work with producer, Ross Robinson, who had previously worked with Fear Factory and W.A.S.P. to record their self-titled debut, released in 1994. The album was something a slow starter commercially, but eventually reached Gold status whilst the band were on tour supporting Ozzy Osbourne with the Deftones. The record boasted one of their most popular songs, "Blind," which was also their only single out of the four from the album to chart, reaching number fifteen in Canada, though "Shoots and Ladders" was nominated for a Grammy award in 1997.

Success increased massively with the release of their second album, "Life is Peachy" in 1996, which debuted on the Billboard 200 at number three. Once again, it featured another Korn classic, this time in the form of, "A.D.I.D.A.S." and garnered another Grammy nomination for the album's first single, "No Place to Hide." It also featured some notable covers, including the War classic, "Low Rider" and the Ice Cube cover, "Wicked," where they were joined by Deftones singer, Chino Moreno. The popularity of the band had grown to such an extent that they co-headlined the Lolapalooza tour with Tool in 1997, they were forced to leave after Schaffer was diagnosed with viral meningitis.

Riding high on this wave of success, Korn returned to the studio to record their third, and possibly best album to date, "Follow the Leader." They promoted the record with a series of online videos dubbed, "KornTV," which featured guest appearances from porn legend Ron Jeremy and bands such as Limp Bizkit, the singer of which, Fred Durst, would eventually appear on the album on the track, "All in the Family," which was essentially a rap battle between Davis and Durst. Durst wasn't the only guest to appear on the album, Ice Cube collaborated with the band on the song, "Children of the Korn" and Tre Hardson of Pharcyde joined them for the song, "Cameltosis," while the record also featured a secret cover of the Cheech and Chong song, "Earache my Eye," which featured a guest appearance from Cheech Marin himself. Also on the album was perhaps Korn's best known song, "Freak on a Leash," which boasted a classic, Grammy award winning music video from Spawn creator, Todd McFarlane's studio, while the artist himself also co-designed the album's front cover. "Follow the Leader" also featured another Korn hit, "Got the Life," which was played so often on Total Request Live that the show decided to retire it.

Following the huge success of "Follow the Leader," Korn quickly returned to record their fourth album, "Issues," released only fourteen months after its predecessor. The record debuted at the top of the Billboard album charts and in the process, kept the highly anticipated Dr. Dre album, "2001," from reaching the top spot. To promote the album, the band appeared the famous Apollo Theater in New York, becoming the first white act since Buddy Holly to do so and even appeared prominently in the South Park episode, "Korn's Groovy Pirate Mystery," itself a parody of Scooby Doo cartoons. They also gave away the single, "Falling Away From Me," as a free mp3 and and launched the successful "Sick and Twisted" tour with Staind, P.O.D., Powerman 5000, Papa Roach and Mindless Self Indulgence, for which they asked fans to vote on which songs should be in the setlist.

After this, Korn recorded and released their fifth album, "Untouchables," which was held off the top spot in the U.S.A. by Eminem's third album, "The Eminem Show," and didn't sell quite as well as the previous two album, which the band put down to internet piracy. It was nevertheless still
a commercial and critical success and contained the opening track, "Here to Stay," which was a big success in the United Kingdom and has become a favourite of many Korn fans, as well as the singles, "Thoughtless" and "Alone I Break," the latter of which was part of a competition on MTV in which the winner would get to direct the video.

Internet piracy would play a key factor in the release of their sixth album, "Take a Look in the Mirror," as it had began leaking on to the internet before the scheduled release date, and so it was released four days before it was supposed to and eventually peaked at number nine on the Billboard album charts. It received something of a mixed response from critics, with some going so far as to call the album a self-parody, while singles such as "Did My Time," which was used to promote the second Tomb Raider movie, felt a little flat compared to previous hits. It was followed by the band's first compilation album, "Greatest Hits Volume 1," which featured covers of the Pink Floyd classic, "Another Brick in the Wall" and the Cameo hit, "Word Up," which featured a somewhat humourous music video which saw the group's faces super imposed on to dogs bodies.

Before they could get to work on their next release, Brian "Head" Welch announced that he was leaving the band after becoming a born again Christian, the catalyst was apparently seeing his young daughter singing the Korn hit, "A.D.I.D.A.S." and the fear that touring would present too great a temptation to begin using methamphetamines, which he (and other members of the band) had become addicted to. After this event, Korn recorded and released their first album as a quartet, "See You on the Other Side," which peaked at number three on the Billboard album charts and featured a popular and lengthy music video for the song, "Twisted Transistor," in which the band were portrayed by rap stars such as Snoop Dogg and Xzibit. While touring for the album, the group brought back their "Family Values" tour, this time featuring Stone Sour and Deftones amongst other support acts, as well as a performance at the 2006 edition of Britain's Download festival, which Davis suffered a blood platelet disorder prior to the event, and so the vocalist position was filled by a number of guests such as Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Benji Webbe of Skindred and Trivium vocalist, Matt Heafy.

Following the tour, David Silveria announced that he was taking an indefinite hiatus from the band, leaving Korn to officially continue as a trio, with other contributors credited as studio or live musicians. From this, the band recorded an Unplugged album before their eighth studio record, which was officially untitled, though some people refer to it as "Korn II." It was promoted with the singles, "Evolution" and "Hold On," and received a mixed response, with die hard fans defending the record while others felt it was uninspired and frankly boring. After recording a song for the video game Haze, the band reunited with Ross Robinson for their next album, "Korn III: Remember Who You Are," which again received mixed reviews, though this time leaning more towards a positive response, with critics feeling that the band were starting to get back on track.

A year after the release of "Korn III," the band released their tenth studio album, "The Path of Totality," a surprising and somewhat controversial album which saw them heavily infuse dubstep with their music and collaborate with an artist from this genre on every song, including the likes of Skrillex and Noisia. While some praised the sense of adventure and risk taking from the band, feeling that they had crafted a solid album in the process, others felt that Korn were merely "selling out" to a popular genre and ridiculed the record.

Fans' interest was returned somewhat however in 2013, when the band announced that "Head" was returning to the band, which resulted in the album, "The Paradigm Shift," released in October of that year and earning some of the best reviews the group had received for some considerable time. Korn are now working on their thirteenth album and the results are sure to be interesting in one way or another. However it turns out, their place in rock and metal is cemented as a band who changed the face of heavy music, though debate rages on as to whether it was for the better and the name and famous logo of Korn is one which will live on for a long time to come.

Korn - "Blind"

Korn - "A.D.I.D.A.S."

Korn - "Got the Life"

Korn - "Falling Away From Me"

Korn - "Here to Stay"

Korn - "Right Now"

Korn - "Twisted Transistor"

Korn - "Hold On"

Korn - "Let the Guilt Go"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

What's Next?

Please share this article if you found it interesting.

4 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Korn"

Post your comments and discuss the article below! (no login required)

Anonymous Reader
1. Ginnie Moon writes:

Thanks as always for a Sunday Old School piece well-written. I never really "got" the Korn "hype" until I saw them live. I still don't listen to Korn with anything approaching regularity, but I'd see them live again at the drop of a hat.

# Sep 6, 2015 @ 6:43 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. Korn review writes:

I liked the review. One thing I've never understood about 90s and early 00s metal or nu metal is why people hate on it so much. I mean yes there was a lot of crap that came out but there was a lot of good too. It's like all the posers they jumped on the nu metal bandwagon and than jumped off. I mean every genre of music has its ups and downs and good and bad. I listen to all type of rock. Hatebreed. All that remains. Deftones. Breaking Benjamin. Sepultura. I've just never understood why it's so important to put all these bands into certain categories. If it's good music and u like it who cares if it's nu metal or 80s metal or hard rock. If it rocks. Than its good.

# Sep 7, 2015 @ 2:25 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

3. Diamond Oz writes:

Thank you once again for your kind words Ginnie! Always a pleasure to read :)

# Sep 8, 2015 @ 11:37 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrunoHockalugie's avatar


4. BrunoHockalugie writes:

great article oz!

Lots of sh** gets talked on Korn but when they came on the OC/LA scene in the early 90's (they had relocated to OC in 1991) they definitely had their own thing going and like all great bands they tore it up live. I didn't really care for them initially because I was not into the whole Adidas sweatpants/dreadlock thing (I was more into the punk/thrash skate/surf scene) but when Follow the Leader came out in I finally had to start paying attention to them.

I still listen to the first two albums alot and saw the Family Values Concert in April and they the played self-titled album in its entirety and it was f***in awesome

Another great article Oz, cheers!

# Sep 8, 2015 @ 1:41 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

To minimize comment spam/abuse, you cannot post comments on articles over a month old. Please check the sidebar to the right or the related band pages for recent related news articles.