Korn – Follow The Leader (1998)

Nu Metal was seen mostly as a niche genre of heavy metal music. Before the release of this album the genre and band were not taken very seriously by music listeners. This album, Follow The Leader, changed that. It made Korn into superstars.

Does the album live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

We begin with the weird sounding It’s On! which then has a groove based beat and some freaky sounding distorted guitars. We head into Nu Metal territory right here, and it sounds demonic. Jonathan Davis’s ripping vocals enter the scene. The groovy sounding chorus hits you. A good way to start the album. It is totally different to most music out there.

The next song is Freak On A Leash. It’s about being ripped apart by emotions. The drumming here is excellent with rolling snare beats, leaving the rest of the band filling in with the distorted guitars and quiet/loud dynamics. The chorus is strange uplifting for a singer sounding like he is having some personal issues at hand. It’s brilliant though. Catchy too. The drop tuned guitars are fantastic to hear.

Got The Life, another hit single, is very catchy. It sounds like satanic disco, and the interplay between the instruments and singing are top notch. Jonathan Davis sounds like a man full of fear and rage, not many singers can fit that description. It is still a great listen today. It refers to a God that hates oneself. If you are Christian, stay away from this album. It is certain heavy listening.

Dead Bodies Everywhere is a slow start with a toy sounding melody, before bursting into a Nu Metal style danceable tune. That’s right, these guys had a great sense of musical accomplishment at hand. It’s not as strong as the two before it, but it’s a deeply disturbing listen. There is some semi wah-wah guitar sounds in the breakdown too.

The rebellious Children Of The Korn is a rap/metal piece. It sounds better than you’d expect. It’s just different, in a good way. It seems more subtle than what came before. Ice Cube is featured here as the rapper, and does a great job. This sort of song would likely have got some good attention here for Korn.

The next piece, B.B.K. sounds creepy. It’s designed to sound that way. This is almost like Industrial Music in the respect that it sounds rather freaky. But in any case, it still sounds consistent to listen to. The semi rapped jibberish on this one is interesting as well. This album is very heavy indeed.

Pretty is not what you’d expect. It sounds monstrous in the chorus, whilst being quieter in the verses, a good Nirvana style trick. The lyrics are horrific, taking a likely influence from Death Metal or a similar source. Sort of a cross between Nirvana and Slayer. It’s effective though.

All In The Family is a rather disturbing tale of horrific sex. It’s not really worth mentioning in this review as it is rather disturbing lyrical adventure. It’s a good listen if you want to hear some freaky stuff though.

The next song, Reclaim My Place has some more unusual guitars and bass work once again, focuses on personal issues. Strangely enough, this seems to be the case throughout the album. It’s a lesser track on the album but still, it’s okay. It’s about fighting demons from within and without. The repeated screaming of the phrase: “WHAT THE FUCK?!” is epic and brilliant.

Up next is Justin. Surprisingly for a Nu Metal band, these guys can groove too. This is a case in point, this is a heavy, groove based piece. It has some good wah-wah guitar and multi-tracked sound effects and vocals. This makes for a compelling listen. Korn sounding heavier than most forms of music out there, and this is an example of that. This song is rather long though, it could have benefitted from some editing here. Otherwise, it’s okay.

Seed begins with some quiet sounds, before launching into more Nu Metal goodness. It is rather slow to begin with, but once Jonathan Davis begins singing, we are back in Nu Metal territory. It sounds like a plea for help from the singer here. It breaks down into a mid-section with bass guitar and excellent drumming, before beginning to rock hard. It’s a surprising listen all the way through.

Cameltosis begins with some goosebump inducing sounds, sounding like a distorted electric sitar. It then goes into a song asking a woman of fancy what she wants sexually. You could only imagine the restrictions by those who find this album scary towards others, namely parents and authorities. This is not light music at all, it is some of the heaviest music you will hear. The drum loop at the end is awesome.

The next song, My Gift To You starts with, get this, bagpipe style sounds with Nu Metal guitars. It’s certainly different, but better than the last two songs for sure. It’s another great listen from the world of Nu Metal here. It has some down-pitched distorted vocals here too. Great stuff. It certainly sounds warped. The repeated screams about hating someone and feeling the pain are brilliant.

The last piece Earache My Eye starts with a spoken word piece. It seems totally unnecessary to begin with. The last piece here is a nonsensical Nu Metal piece. It finishes off the album quite nicely, and we come to a close here.

Nu Metal rose in popularity after the release of this album. It’s not the best album ever, but it’s not bad still. The only real drawback? Many of the songs here are quite long, some editing of the length of album would have helped. Otherwise, it is a good entry to the world of Nu Metal here.

7/10

Stone Sour – Stone Sour (2002)

Nu Metal is fairly recent a musical movement, hence the name. It is basically a modern day heavy metal movement with mega drop-tuned guitars and mainly percussive sounds. Bands like Korn come to most people’s minds with this genre, but don’t forget Stone Sour though. The band released this album after a long period on/off as a band in 2002, and no doubt was immediately seen as the up and coming of the Nu Metal movement. The group had already been prevalent in the metal scene for years, but this is a great effort which gave them recognition in the music world regardless. Notably, the group had some former members of Slipknot in their ranks.

So from the start, we have Get Inside. This album is really heavy straight up. Like, mega. The sound is immediate and cranked to full. It’s a great way to start your day if you enjoy really heavy metal music. The music is inspired by metal greats, such as Metallica. But it sounds far more demonic.

The next piece Orchids is groovetastic. This is a band of variety, compared to some thrash metal and death metal bands out there. It’s good to hear such inspiration, even in the heaviest of music. It goes into a quiet midsection, before returning to full volume to surprise you.

Cold Reader has some brilliant guitar work. One thing that is underappreciated about metal guitarists, in general, is how excellent the guitar work is. Even at these tempos, the guitar work is very good. Something to keep an ear out for. There is a brilliant use of the “f” word here in the song, and if only people could say it like this every time that they used it, the world would be a better place.

Blotter has a really weird intro of someone who sounds possessed on an answering machine message at 7AM, before diving into a fairly average song. It feels a little weaker here, but it’s still Nu Metal to the max.

The next song Choose is much better than the previous song, starting off with a keyboard-based groove, before going into a riff-heavy piece. It is more songy and consistent than you’d think. A great Nu Metal song.

After that, we have Monolith, a slow piece with some awesome drum work here. The words refer to anti-religious sacrifice, so quite simply if you are a fan of Hillsong, do not listen to Nu Metal. It’s likely satanic for the most part. The guitar solo sounds halfway between Kirk Hammett and Yngwie Malmsteen.

Inhale comes next, and has more of a progressive chord melody than the other songs. It’s a good song with almost a singalong chorus for the most. It then goes into some manic screaming. It’s almost pop music upon listening. It’s no surprise it was released as a single.

Bother is a melodic and melancholic piece which is even more pop. It features, unusually for this music vocals, strings and acoustic guitar, nothing else. It was written and performed solo by singer Corey Taylor but was later attributed as an effort by Stone Sour. It’s really beautiful listening.

The follow-up Blue Study returns to Nu Metal territory on the album. It has some classy screaming on this particular song. The screaming on this album is very close to the emotional screaming that Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails did in the 1990s. But unlike Trent Reznor, Stone Sour are directly following a Nu Metal mission, no mistake about it.

After that, we have Take A Number which features more prominent bass lines in the song where Corey Taylor goes from modest singing to screaming maniac in a short time. It’s Nirvana-ish in that respect, and it loosely follows Grunge music in that respect.

Idle Hands is a great song. No doubt about it. In fact, it’s songs like these which combine many different elements of different genres of music and place them into Nu Metal. If you listen closely, there are rock, punk and many other influences in the tracks made. Even some disco like sensibilities exists here.

Tumult is a headbanging piece for Nu Metallers. It’s rather explicit but involves keyboards, sex sounds and loads of screaming vocals. It’s super intense, particularly at the end of the song. Not bad if you want to go crazy.

The last piece Omega is the funniest thing on the record, although there are humourous moments elsewhere too. It’s actually a spoken word piece which features Corey Taylor drunk doing some rambling. It’s a must listen for a laugh. More bands should do this sort of thing. It’s about the failure of government.

This is a cult classic amongst Nu-Metal fans, but there is more musical variety than you would think. It’s not a bad listen, despite the fact many people do not enjoy Nu Metal. But if you want to receive an audio assault (metaphorically of course) this is a great way to experience it. And unlike Metallica, it actually can scare kids away. Recently Stone Sour have re-released this album remastered, with some additional songs that are just as good. If you like this sort of music, ensure you keep an eye out for that one.

The musical equivalent of a horror film and no Slayer don’t come close to that.

6/10