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Korn is the debut Self-Titled Album by Korn, released on October 11, 1994. It was recorded over a month-long period in Malibu, California and produced by Ross Robinson.

The album's music was a groundbreaking take on Alternative Metal, eschewing genre mainstays like guitar solos in favor of heavily downtuned guitars and funk-influenced bass, with angsty lyrics about child abuse, drug abuse, and bullying. The result was a sound that couldn't be described but which caught on in popularity immediately and, for better or worse, laid out the blueprints for the controversial genre of Nu Metal, which would take the world by storm at the end of The '90s.

While only peaking at #72 nearly two years after release on the Billboard 200, the album ultimately sold four million copies in the United States alone, and over ten million copies worldwide. Though it spawned arguably the most polarizing metal genres since Hair Metal, it's also credited for helping to revive metal as a whole, which (Metallica, Alice in Chains and Pantera notwithstanding) was largely driven to underground purgatory after the fall of glam metal. In 2014, Rolling Stone called it "the most important metal record of the last 20 years".

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Tracklist

  1. "Blind"
  2. "Ball Tongue"
  3. "Need To"
  4. "Clown"
  5. "Divine"
  6. "Faget"
  7. "Shoots and Ladders"
  8. "Predictable"
  9. "Fake"
  10. "Lies"
  11. "Helmet in the Bush"
  12. "Daddy"
  13. "Michael & Geri" (hidden track)

Personnel

  • Jonathan Davis - Vocals, bagpipes
  • James "Munky" Shaffer - Guitar
  • Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu - Bass
  • Brian "Head" Welch - Guitar, vocals
  • David Silveria - Drums

Tropes:

  • Adult Fear: The Central Theme of the album, starting with the album cover of a child about to be abducted by a shadowy figure in broad daylight and continuing on through songs like "Daddy."
  • Alternative Metal: The album was intended to be this, but was such an abnormal example of this genre that it created a completely different genre entirely.
  • All the Other Reindeer: "Clown" is about being excluded from popular cliques.
  • Angrish: The ending of "Daddy," and for good reason: Davis was reliving the horrors of having been molested as a child and having a very real mental breakdown on the spot.
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  • Angst: The album is full of it.
  • Broken Record: Several songs like "Divine" and "Faget" feature Jonathan shouting the same thing over and over. This became flanderized by later bands who would abuse this effect.
  • Concept Album: Abnormal for nu metal, but the album features consistent themes dealing with drug abuse, child abuse, bullying, homophobia, and depression. While angst is something nu metal is infamous for, few have done it in a way such as this.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Featured throughout. "Divine" has this on repeat.
    You know what? Fuck you! I'm fed up with you. I'm not as good as you?
    Fuck no, I'm better than you.
    (repeated eight times)
  • Creepy Children Singing: Jonathan emulates this on "Shoots and Ladders," which is all about how children's nursery rhymes are actually about horrible, nightmarish things ("Ring Around The Rosies" being about the Black Plague, "London Bridge" being about a terrible fire).
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The songs pertain to Jonathan's childhood experiences in the past with being abused and bullied in school.
  • Doom Metal: One of the many styles the album borrows from, with low tuning, slow-to mid pace tempos, dissonance, angsty lyrics and Epic Rocking.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: "I hate you!" is repeated throughout "Need To" and "Daddy".
  • Epic Rocking: "Daddy" is fourteen minutes long counting the hidden track, and nine minutes not counting it. "Faget" and "Shoots and Ladders" are both over five minutes long.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: "Shoots and Ladders" opens with Jonathan playing the bagpipes.
  • Funk Metal: A strong influence, especially noticeable in songs like "Blind".
  • Genre-Busting: At the time, most people weren't sure what to call it. Of course, they later got their answer.
  • Harsh Vocals: Jonathan alternates between this and melodic, whisper like vocals. "Fake" and "Lies" feature borderline death growling.
  • Incoming Ham: The very first vocals on the album.
    "ARE YOU READY?!"
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Some songs, such as "Ball Tongue", border on Singing Simlish for being so hard to understand.
  • Large Ham: Jonathan Davis throughout. From "Blind"
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Around a 6 to an 8, sometimes at a 9. It's significantly shorter of hooks and more aggressive than their later albums would be.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: An Alternative Metal album with elements of Funk Metal, Grunge, Groove Metal, Hip-Hop, Hardcore, and Progressive Metal. It was so popular, in fact, that it eventually became commodified into a genre.
  • Nu Metal: Credited as the first recorded example of the genre, for better or worse.
  • One-Word Title: "Blind", "Clown", "Divine", "Faget", "Fake", "Daddy", and the album itself.
  • Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Jonathan does this constantly.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: "Faget" is about Jonathan Davis' experience being bullied in school and being called homophobic insults for being into arts and crafts, new wave music, and wearing eyeliner.
  • Progressive Metal: A strong influence, believe it or not. Given the use of the conceptual themes, experimentation with different sounds seemingly at random, and Epic Rocking.
  • Rape as Drama: "Daddy", which was about how Jonathan was molested by his (female) babysitter as a child, but nobody in his family believed him.
  • Rap Metal: Downplayed. While much of the rhythm in the songs in heavily influenced by hip-hop and funk rock, there are no rapped vocals, unlike future examples of music like this.
  • Singing Simlish: "Ball Tongue" at the end, though the whole song sounds like this. "Shoots and Ladders" has this as well. In fact, it's hard to tell when it's this or just Indecipherable Lyrics. The whole album introduced this, which some later bands made into an art form.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Jonathan does a one-man variation of this with vocals that are almost whispered, as if expressing his own thoughts, before going into full-on screams. This vocal style has been mimicked numerous times by later nu metal bands, though none could do it in the same way that Jonathan could.
  • Studio Chatter
    • "Clown" starts with about a minute of the band goofing around in the studio before starting the song. During the chatter, David Silveria says "I wish we could put 'Twist' on the fucking tape", referring to a song that wouldn't be released until their next album, Life Is Peachy.
    • "Daddy" ends with the sound of the recording booth's door opening and Jonathan, still crying from the trauma he was reliving while recording his vocals, excusing himself.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: "Ball Tongue" and “Lies” feature prominent backing vocals from Head.
  • Unbuilt Trope: Compare this album to later nu metal albums by other bands, which changed, refined, and overall modified the sound with varying influences. They would honestly sound like a subversion of the stereotypes established by the likes of Limp Bizkit.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The cover features the shadow of a man, holding what looks like horseshoes or blades, standing in front of a girl on a swing. His intentions couldn't be anything but malevolent. The back cover photo of empty swings swaying back and forth pretty much tells you all you need to know.
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