Korn – The Serenity of Suffering

Bands frequently claim their new album will be their heaviest, but how often is this actually true? The same claims were made for Korn’s twelfth full-length studio album, The Serenity of Suffering, by guitarist Brian “Head” Welch. Korn has long been among the pioneers of the much criticized genre of nu-metal, with their first handful of albums as classics to that era. However, the years that coincided with Welch’s absence brought forth some very up-and-down material, yet with his return, Korn has seen a return to form of sorts. The Serenity of Suffering cranks up the intensity and continues this trend of redemption, but with certain limitations.

The Serenity of Suffering, as was hinted in early interviews, is a significantly more guitar-based album, with the final product only confirming this. Insane and Rotting in Vain hark back to older Korn with their spooky atmospheres, thick, crunchy guitar riffs, and catchy choruses. Subtle electronic effects, reminiscent of Johnathon Davis’ forays into dubstep, are sprinkled throughout, buried beneath powerful distorted guitar tones, while the scat section in Rotting in Vain is sure to perk the interests Korn’s oldest fans. Black is the Soul, with its grandiose atmosphere, is among Korn’s heaviest tracks, with riffs unconventional for Korn and an album highlight. Everything Falls Apart and Die Yet Another Day have interesting guitar rhythms with bursts of heaviness and quite catchy choruses. A Different World continues the emphasis on thick guitars, bouncy rhythms, a spiraling chorus, and features some guest vocals from Slipknot’s Corey Taylor. Taylor’s impact is minimal as he mostly provides some backing yells and a few lines. If anything, he detracts from the song, yet it should be noted I have never cared for his vocals. From beginning to end, The Serenity of Suffering is drowning in thick downtuned guitars equally matched by intense vocals by Johnathon Davis, which should very much satisfy Korn fans who felt their recent albums did not pack much punch.

But is so much guitar intensity a good thing? The Serenity of Suffering is an intense wall of sound straight through, yet not as dynamic with regards to atmosphere. Many of the subtleties, nuances, and atmospheric effects that have made so much of Korn’s discography fascinating are buried within the mix and inundated within the mastering. Significant portions of tracks are so overwhelmed by guitar that much everything else is drowned out, such that “Fieldy” Arvizu’s signature slap-bass style goes unnoticed and sounds rather conventional throughout the album. There is a lack of significant atmospheric segments to diversify the album’s overall sound, resulting in tracks that blur together as dynamics are sacrificed. There is still plenty of Korn’s signature atmosphere, yet the dynamics within the album are not as stark to make its variety more noticeable.

The Serenity of Suffering is indeed among Korn’s heavier efforts, but feels like it rehashes what Korn has already done before. Many of the guitar riffs are uncharacteristic for Korn due to their style and intensity, while the lyrical content and vocal melodies remain characteristic. This is refreshing to an extent, yet the effect wears off over the course of the album as everything begins to sound similar. The return of Brian “Head” Welch has brought some stability and newfound guitar intensity to the band as demonstrated in The Serenity of Suffering, which is an album that should satisfy those wanting something heavier from the band. However, although The Serenity of Suffering is a worthy addition to their discography and a valiant effort, expect its novelty to wear off quickly.

Genre: Nu-Metal, Alternative Metal
Country: USA
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release: October 21, 2016

Tracklist:
1. Insane
2. Rotting In Vain
3. Black Is The Soul
4. The Hating
5. A Different World
6. Take Me
7. Everything Falls Apart
8. Die Yet Another Night
9. When You’re Not There
10. Next In Line
11. Please Come For Me

Review By:

Legacy-Of-Kain-Soul-Reaver_7563

Javier

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