Korn Celebrates the 25th Anniversary Their Debut Album

The Rev Files

October 11, 2019
8/27/2017 - Jonathan Davis of Korn performing live on stage on day 3 of Leeds Festival a Bramham Park, UK. Picture date: Sunday 27 August, 2017. Photo credit: Katja Ogrin/ EMPICS Entertainment. (Photo by PA Images/Sipa USA) *** US Rights

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25 years ago one of the most influential albums in my life was released. October 11th, KoRn's self-titled debut was unleashed to the masses and with it an entire genre was created.

It had been 3 years since Nirvana's Nevermind had taken grunge up into the limelight and, with it, taken over all of mainstream music. The Seattle sound began, and continued, to spread its massive influence across the world and as much as I loved the bands that spawned from there (and STILL do) there was something missing to it for me. I didn't want the cleaner sounds of the 80s hair metal that was all but destroyed by grunge, nor was I still looking for the slower style of music that was continuing to come from grunge. I felt I needed something that would take from both and transmogrify into its own blend of sound that would call to me.

KoRn's debut was that.

I first heard it on Marco Collins radio program before the album had dropped. I remember the day very clearly, in fact. It was early evening and I was driving down in Tacoma just listening to the radio when he had started playing Blind. From the beginning cymbal taps and the random chugs of the guitar I was absolutely hooked. When Jonathan Davis' started in with the primal 'ARE YOU REAAAADY' scream I knew I was going for a ride that I would never forget but often take. I bought the album when as soon as it was available.

I didn't know what to expect when I first listened to the album. I was taken on a journey of discovery of one man's painful mental journey mixed in with some of the dirtiest, lowest and strangest sounds that I had experienced. The mixture between what Head and Monkey were doing as they would go back with the guitar riffs that I could barely comprehend coupled with the rhythm section of Fieldy and David (which at some times sounded like two separate drum kits playing) all working together in a blessed cacophony was something that sang to my heart. It was dirty, it was grungy, it was hard, it was heartfelt and it felt real to me. It wasn't that I identified with being bullied like Jonathan was in his songs, such as Clown. I didn't have the pain and torment that surrounded him in recording of the epic Daddy. It was that I could feel his emotions pouring through every note as he relived the moments in his life that shaped the lyrics that were put to the sound that was created around him. I didn't need to have lived in a world that was a mirror to his. I was able to live in his world for as long as those songs played on my small boombox in my bedroom.

Beyond that the music made me appreciate something I didn't think I ever would - bagpipes. While the lyrics of Shoots & Ladders mostly come from nursery rhymes the beginning is absolutely beautiful. Listening to the bagpipes wail as suddenly the rest of the band kicks in (and the bagpipes continue) is a magical experience you should go back and listen to right now.

Does the album hold up? Absolutely. The band has continued for these 25 years creating an influential sound that was often duplicated but never quite replicated. They started what many call the Nu-Metal movement and ushered in a harder, angrier, sound that dictated an undercurrent of the 90s that many of the grunge acts couldn't quite reach. For what spawned after are left to their own devices but KoRn's debut album has stood the test of time for me and will continue to be on my playlist for years to come. So grab your old CD boombox, sit down in the middle of your room, pop in the album and ask yourself:

Are You Ready?

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