100: KOЯN

For my 100th post, it was always going to be an important band for me and my musical history. Given my tastes obviously skew toward the heavier in general, a band that had me dipping my toe in the water in my formative years seemed the obvious choice.

That claim falls squarely on the shoulders of Korn.

For me, and I’m sure countless metalheads my age, Korn were a gateway band. My first love. They were the band that made me realise not just that my taste in music leant heavier, but that I had a taste in music at all. Korn came to my attention when I was still figuring myself out, as people often are at that age. Part of understanding yourself and who you are, for many, includes understanding what music moves you.

Korn showed me that guitars could be heavy, bass could be hypnotic, and vocals could be pained, angry, and even indecipherable. They showed a 12 year old kid with no fucking clue that songs didn’t have to be about girls, romance, and whatever other bullshit populated radio airplay at the time.

I still remember it. That moment. The first time I heard Korn. It was Good God, and Channel [V] were playing the music video. I was quite literally 12 years old at the time and it was the heaviest thing this 12 year old had ever heard.

I also still remember that Christmas. I got both Life is Peachy and the relatively recently released Follow The Leader on CD – as I’m sure many nascent metalheads did that year. It was the beginning of something truly life-defining for me.

I was 25 when I finally saw Korn live for the first time. I’d love the band for some 13 years by then. Here’s what they don’t tell you in the damn school books – Korn are fucking monstrously heavy live. It must be something about that incredibly low bottoms end that’s part of their signature sound, in the open live performance environment that just amplifies it. All I know is it gave me chills.

From my love of Korn onward and outward into the wider world of nu metal, then to alternative metal, hard rock, alt rock, industrial and a never ending outward spiral into more and more varied sounds and genres. Some not as heavy, and some so heavy they’d turn your hair white. But always it’s been some flavour of rock or metal, and all of it can be traced back through my synapses back to Korn. It’s a simple, undeniable fact of who I am – Korn are my Black Sabbath.

I’ll also readily admit I had a bit of a lump in my throat, rather unexpectedly (I’ve since come to terms with the subconscious importance I hold music to, and the emotional connection it can elicit). There I was seeing and hearing this band who I felt had soundtracked my formative years. Who had gotten me through tough times and had also been there for me when there was cause to celebrate. It was (and is) as though my feelings about Korn are like a microcosm of my relationship with music. I felt moved, overwhelmed, and joyous.

The last time I saw Korn, pre-pandemic, was headlining Download in 2018. That time I was a 33 year old and I was 21 years removed from being that kid on the couch hearing Good God for the first time. Except the moment they took the stage I was that kid again. That performance, my fourth time seeing Korn, was one of the best concerts of my life.

Nu metal fell out of favour with the world somewhere along the way. It went from being the biggest thing on the planet to … something uncool. Maybe it was a certain band I wrote about two days ago and the events of Woodstock 99 that killed it. Maybe it was just a matter of something having it’s time and that time coming to an end.

I know a lot of those kids I mentioned earlier grew out of it. God forbid they be seen still listening to Korn. But the funny thing is, Koran’s popularity has actually consistently grown over the last decade or so. There are still many of us. The loser kids who were finding themselves and then found Korn. Those kids grew up. Got married. Bought houses. Had kids. But Korn is still their jam and they still turn out en mass when Korn tours.

A lot of that old guard of the nu metal scene are still carrying on. They tour. They play their hits. And I still love seeing them. But Korn somehow keep getting bigger. Not only that, they are still relevant, and their latest album is among their best.

I’ll often say I was a nu metal kid. It’s where I lived as a teenager. It’s who I as. But the reality is it was far more specific – I was a Korn kid, and I might be in my late thirties now, but I like to think I still am.

Thank you Korn for what, at this point for me, could be considered a lifetime of music.