Korn - The Serenity of Suffering

by James Weiskittel Rating:6 Release Date:2016-10-21

Korn has inexplicably outlasted countless bands, scenes and has even transcended a genre or two (namely Nu-Metal, though they’re probably given too much credit for its creation) along the way to becoming one of Hard Rock’s elder statesmen.  Their twelfth (yes, twelfth) release, The Serenity Of Suffering finds the by-way-of-Bakersfield band somewhat returning to their roots (depending of course on which era you identify as their roots).  Where the story with the band’s last album, the Paradigm Shift, was the return of guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch, his influence on the band’s sound is much more pronounced this second time around.

While the band has tried mixing just about everything from dubstep to blast-beats to faux black-metal growls with their guitar-heavy stomp over the years, Korn has always had a knack for placing a handful of infectiously melodic songs on each and every release, essentially (and cleverly) tethering themselves to modern-rock playlists for the better part of twenty years. The Serenity of Suffering is in many ways a throwback record - not in a pandering, calculated sort of way, but rather, in a “we really want to give the fans what they want” sort of way. Hell, there are even some well-placed turntable solos straight out of 1998 on a few of these tracks.

Songs like album opener “Insane” and the incredibly heavy “The Hating” find the band doing what they do best, marrying ridiculously de-tuned guitars (maybe they add a string for every record???) with Jonathan Davis’s ever growing bag of vocal tricks.  And speaking of Davis, he is the real star here, as over the course of the album he literally drops just about every heavy metal vocal technique there is, from tortured croons to guttural growls to that boom-chaka-chaka thing he does: it’s like having three vocalists in one.  The only thing left for him to add to his repertoire is a convincing high-pitched Rob Halford-esque wail and he will be like a walking ‘Metal through the decades’ exhibit.

As someone who has admittedly only been peripherally aware of the band throughout the course of their run, I find it somewhat irresponsible to simply dismiss The Serenity of Suffering despite feeling that there is little that I personally find redeeming with the release (and I did listen from start to finish which is more than most other reviewers I suspect).  Context is key here, and the band is obviously playing for a very dedicated audience at this point.  So with that being said, I give them points for longevity and for being able to still convincingly deliver their brand of tortured angst this far into their career.  I’m not sure if it’s a good record, but I have a feeling that fans will consider it a good Korn record, and that’s what really counts here.

All kidding aside, The Serenity of Suffering is probably the heaviest album Korn has released in years and should be a welcome addition to their ever-growing catalog for any fan that is still listening, although if you are still listening to Korn twelve albums in then you probably already know.

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