I'm sure the last thing you expected to see in 2016 was a nu metal revival. After the advent of Of Mice & Men's abysmal Cold World (read our review here), you'd figure that bands would've taken the memo that it wasn't going to work out. Korn may have proved that wrong, though.
Their twelfth record The Serenity Of Suffering is a return to their nu metal roots, the album cover even containing elements of their fourth record Issues. The Serenity Of Suffering takes everything the band once was and combines those elements with what they are now, creating a familiar yet intense body that's new yet reminiscent of another time.
The trademarks of nu metal were the anger and riffs, and that's very much present on this record. Right from the start, you're faced with 'Insane,' destructively deep riffs with various levels of distortion hitting you hard along with Korn's signature creepiness and terrified vocals from Jonathan Davis. Davis' voice is as strong as ever, his ethereal, ominous timbre elevating songs like 'Everything Falls Apart' to unheard of levels of paranoia that other bands couldn't even hope of reaching. The verses are calm, but the choruses are frantic and panicked, begging the means of an end. The bridge is even more haunting, his spoken word sounding like chants as if become increasingly angered and possessed.
The band channels some other forms of nu metal here, too. Corey Taylor features on 'A Different World,' bringing the times back to early Slipknot. The tradeoffs between him and Davis are powerful and both vocals show off their prowess. Taylor's voice falls in the line between anger and calmness - both equally terrifying - as his poetic sense of melody and rage become one. His shouts above Davis' melodic singing in the final chorus give the song a big punch.
The crown jewel of this album is 'Rotting In Vain.' The electronic intro builds creepily but won't prepare you for what's to come. We reviewed the song upon its release, but in the context of Suffering, it becomes a whole new beast. The electronics show the progression from The Path Of Totality's dubstep influences, replacing what could've been another spidery guitar line. The balance is perfect, heavy metal and electronica coming together in a fantastic way. Nothing can prepare you for how massive the riffs are. This song would be huge if it was released back in the early 2000s or late 1990s, because this is truly a nu metal epic.
Unfortunately, not is all good with the record. As is the problem with nu metal, the album becomes repetitive. There's only so much you can do with the formula of big riff into slowly intensifying verses and confident chorus. The riffs all sound the same in the second half, too. 'Next In Line' is a lesser version of the song that precedes it ('When You're Not There'). Nu metal needs innovation to become a different monster altogether - thus is the success of Linkin Park. The end of the record is exactly the reason nu metal died out - it became repetitive and there were not enough ways to combat it.
Despite it being repetitive, Korn has given the genre a solid footing for a revival. The new decade has offered a lot of potential for the genre. It's offspring post-hardcore may overshadow it in many ways, but nothing really dies forever. Take the power of The Serenity Of Suffering and put it into one or two songs, then find a way to build upon that for different songs and nu metal is back in action. Let's see if the flag can continue flying.
Favorite Tracks: Rotting In Vain, Everything Falls Apart
Least Favorite Tracks: Next In Line, Please Come For Me
Rating: 68 / 100