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This article was originally published in issue #53
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With career album sales now more than 40 million, two Grammy Awards, nearly 20 million followers on social media, and over two decades of non-stop world tours, Korn is already one of the most influential bands in the annals of hard rock and metal.
During their recent show in London, Guitar Interactive Magazine caught up with Korn's guitarists and founding members; James "Munky" Shaffer and Brian "Head" Welch to have a chat about their latest album, "The Serenity of Suffering" and get a close up look at their current live touring rig.
There aren't many bands in history that could be considered responsible for popularising a whole new genre of music. Although the group would never claim this themselves, Korn is very much one of those few acts, and 23 years on from a self-titled debut which unquestionably reinvigorated heavy music, the band is still selling out arenas all over the world.
Following 'The Path of Totality,' (2011) which saw the band (with the help of electronic producers Skrillex and Noisia) take some risky new directions, and 'Paradigm Shift,'(2013) that mixed up metal with helpings of dance and funk. 'The Serenity of Suffering" is undoubtedly a throwback to their earlier, darker and arguably heavier records.
“Well, people seem to like it, thank God,” laughs Munky. “You spend months working on this stuff, and you never know what people will think.”
The album dropped last October and reached #4 (their tenth album to reach the Top 10) on the Billboard 200 as well as topping Billboard’s “Top Rock Albums” and “Hard Rock Albums” chart and it's easy to hear why. The songs on 'The Serenity of Suffering' hit harder and are much more profound than recent releases. This can easily be heard straight from the opening seven-string churns and chugs of “Insane,” to the heavily distorted riffs and bloodcurdling growls of "Please Come For Me."
It’s clear that the subject matter is delving into some of the band’s darkest material no better is that realised than in the Grammy-nominated, single from the album, ‘Rotting in Vain.’
This album marks the second release since re-inclusion of Head to the band's line-up. The guitarist parted ways with Korn in 2005, however, after re-joining the fold in 2013, the newly energised dual-guitar dynamic has seen Korn once again embracing their dense roots, and they’re all the better for it. Reflecting on the new release Head stated;
"It's got real intensity, and so that is what Korn is, I think. It's always been like that. There have been albums where Korn has experimented with other sounds, and that's good too, I love experimenting, but the best songs live always come from the intense songs, and they're the most fun to play".
In support of the new record, Korn has just completed a comprehensive world tour. Never ones to shy away from the road, the band has always understood the importance of connecting with there rabid and dedicated fanbase in a live setting. However, as the group approaches 25 years together, the mix of all ages in the audience at recent shows not only inspires each member but also brings their historical significance into perspective. “I think the fans lend a lot to this band,” Munky says. “Now they’re bringing their kids to the shows. We’re lucky to have that. The music we make brings people together, and it’s a way for people to come to our shows and listen to our records and lick their wounds. It’s a give-and-take between our audience and ourselves. We always want to thank them.”
With career album sales now more than 40 million, two Grammy Awards, nearly 20 million followers on social media, and over two decades of non-stop world tours, Korn is already one of the most influential bands in the annals of hard rock and metal. Through their hard times, an unbreakable artistic bond has developed, and this latest release accurately represents the trajectory of the band in its entirety. With any luck, their iconic sound whether it be on a record or a live setting will be here to stay for decades to come.
'The Serenity of Suffering' is available now on Roadrunner Records.