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Korn: Issues



Album: Issues
Label: Epic/Immortal

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Korn and Limp Bizkit are leaders in the commercially dominant new school of metal, with the latter functioning mostly in the former's shadow until this year, when Limp Bizkit's Significant Other sold millions and earned puzzlingly knee-jerk, the-kids-love-it-so-we-should-too rave reviews. But the two bands, whose members are friends and occasional tourmates, don't have all that much in common stylistically: While angst, rage, and confusion are basic elements of both, Limp Bizkit is in many ways a party band, whereas Korn spends most of its time desperately and impotently seething. Few albums released in the last few years sound as joyless and downtrodden as Issues, an unusual side effect of a genre some have seen as a flamboyant reaction to the don't-look-at-me anti-theatrics of grunge. Issues is all about suppressed, and only occasionally released, anger, dominated (especially early on) by tracks that simmer and groan without really releasing pressure. The blistering, Sabbath-style assault of "Somebody Someone" and the heard-it-before industrial rage of "Let's Get This Party Started" may be monotonous, but at least they're visceral. Limp Bizkit, for all its fat-headed frat-boy posturing, can get by on chant-along anthems, but Korn continues to sink ever further into ponderous, dispiriting, tuneless nihilism. It's a minor surprise that Issues steers clear of tracks in which Davis unleashes his oft-imitated feral growl, and—here's a news flash—it's the first Korn record without a track that could easily be construed as gay-bashing. That's got to constitute some sort of creative growth, right?