It’s a testament to Korn’s credibility among misunderstood metalheads that 2005’s platinum-plus See You on the Other Side, which the long-running California rap-rockers made with Avril Lavigne’s old pals the Matrix, didn’t cost them their spot at the head of the heavy-music pack. On the outfit’s new self-titled studio album—their first without drummer David Silveria, who went on hiatus from the group earlier this year, and second without guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who departed in 2005 to pursue spiritual matters—front man Jonathan Davis and his remaining bandmates push their fans’ tolerance to new extremes.
Perhaps reassuringly, Davis still spends most of his time here trying out novel ways of saying he’s mad as hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore. But much of the music on Korn bears little resemblance to the down-tuned chug-and-glug found on the band’s early records: In “Love and Luxury,” Davis croons like Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode as a clipped funk beat rocks down to Electric Avenue, while closer “I Will Protect You” alternates between a delicate trip-hop verse and a churning post-punk chorus.
Throughout the album, chewy keyboard atmospherics by Zac Baird (last gig: touring Europe with Daniel Powter, the “Bad Day” guy) lend warmth (and, more importantly, pathos) to Davis’s self-consciously creepy child-catcher vibe. In the aptly titled “Evolution,” Baird’s vaguely Middle Eastern squiggles deepen the singer’s very New Age announcement that “This ain’t the time, the place for us to understand this life.” He’s doing very little for the nookie.
Korn play the PNC Bank Arts Center August 8, artscenter.com