Korn are the founding fathers of nu metal, and a band who single-handedly changed the direction of heavy music in the 1990s. They’ve had their share of ups and downs, but their best albums stand among metal’s greatest. Here are all 14 Korn albums to date, ranked from worst to best.
14. Korn III: Remember Who You Are (2010)
On paper the decision to bring back producer Ross Robinson for the first time in over a decade and to have him oversee a more stripped back, heavier album was exciting. Sadly, that isn’t really what we get with Korn III. Instead it’s a forced and ill-fitting rehash of their earlier material. It starts with the brilliant Oildale (Leave Me Alone), but it goes south pretty quickly with songs like Pop A Pill and Are You Ready To Live sounding uncomfortably disjointed, neither catchy enough to compete with their more recent material and certainly not as effective as the crushing material of the first album. It all leaves Korn III in a frustrating no man's land.
13. Take A Look In The Mirror (2003)
By 2003 the nu metal scene was on its arse, and the band themselves were following suit. The last record to feature drummer David Silveria and guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch (at least until he rejoined a over a decade later), Take A Look In The Mirror is a pretty flabby and unremarkable effort. But, ironically, with opener Right Now still remaining a fan favourite to this day and the ludicrous Y’all Want A Single representing a unique moment in Korn’s career, it’s unfair to call the album a total flop – it’s just that it is surrounded by far too many unremarkable moments to stand out in a catalogue of such quality.
12. Untitled album (2007)
Korn deserve great credit for at least trying something new on their officially untitled eighth album. They roped in production and writing team The Matrix, best known for their work with the likes of Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne, to craft the poppiest album of their career. It might have seemed like an odd fit on paper, but for the first half, at least, it works a charm. Bitch We Got A Problem, Starting Over, Hold On and particularly the single Evolution give Korn new life. Unfortunately, the album drops off a cliff during its second half, but it’s still interesting enough to be look backed favorably on.
11. See You On The Other Side (2005)
The mid-00s found Korn creaking under the pressure of their own legacy. Is See You On The Other Side a bad record? Absolutely not. In fact you suspect Mushroomhead, Godhead or any of the bands that sprang up in their wake would give up their wacky beard collection to write a song as good as Twisted Transistor or Coming Undone. But, ultimately the album is just an inferior version of what had already been served up before, stretched out over 60 minutes,. Still, if it was your first Korn album there is plenty here that would lead you to investigate more.
10. The Paradigm Shift (2013)
Much-loved at the time by Korn’s fanbase due to it being the first album in a decade to feature Head back on guitar, but, with the benefit of distance, it’s clear that they’ve have done better work before and since. Featuring a glut of great singles (Love And Meth, Hater, Never Never) it did feel like a rebirth of sorts. But taking the album in its entirety, it doesn’t quite pop consistently enough to gain a higher placing.
9. The Serenity Of Suffering (2016)
A step up from The Paradigm Shift, but The Serenity Of Suffering still is a little too patchy to be got toe-to-toe with the best of Korn’s catalogue. The returning scat vocal stylings of Jonathan Davis was the big talking point on the album's brilliant first single Rotting In Vain, and the furious groove of The Hating is impossible not to be seduced by. But the much-trumpeted appearance of Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on A Different World was a disappointment, making The Serenity Of Suffering a mixed bag of an album.
8. The Path Of Totality (2011)
Without any doubt at all, The Path Of Totality is the most unique record of Korn’s career. Recorded at the height of Jonathan Davis’ dub-step obssession, this is basically an entirely electronic record with Davis fronting it. It features collaborations with the dub-step big names of the time like Excision, Noisia and Downlink, but the most successful songs were when Korn were joined by scene king Skrillex on the likes of Get Up!, Chaos Lives In Everything and the absolutely massive Narcissistic Cannibal. A kot of fans hated it, a lot loved it - nearly a decade on it still sounds great in places and dated in others, so maybe they were both right. Either way, for its genre-mashing, forward thinking nature, it belongs in a decent position on our list.
7. Issues (1999)
When Issues was released in 1999, Korn were bona fide superstars – it hit No.1 on the Billboard 200 the week it was released, keeping Dr Dre and Celine Dion off the top spot and selling well over half a million copies in six days. The album itself saw Korn return to the darker themes that they eschewed in the main on previous album Follow The Leader, while keeping in the shiny, massive production sound that made that record such a hit. The result is, for the most part, great: Beg For Me, Make Me Bad and Somebody Someone are all as good as anything Korn have ever done, and Falling Away From Me is one of their very best anthems. The only reason it sits so low on this list is that the bar is so high.
6. Life Is Peachy (1996)
The much-anticipated follow up to one of metal’s greatest debuts, Life Is Peachy delivers for the most part. A far more experimental and occasionally wacky record than its predecessor, it does feature moments of genuine brilliance: No Place To Hide, the cover of Ice Cube’s Wicked featuring Chino Moreno of Deftones, the unsettling Mr. Rogers and the manic Chi. But they’re all topped by the savage Good God, which can lay a claim to being the best song Korn have ever written. It’s just the silly bits in the album – a cover of War’s Low Rider, the pointless drifting of Porno Creep and the expletive riddled Kunt! – that lets it down overall.
5. The Nothing (2019)
A deeply harrowing and personal album, The Nothing was recorded in the wake of the tragic death of Jonathan Davis’ estranged wife Deven. Somehow, Davis found the strength to create the best Korn album in nearly 20 years. Cold, Can You Hear Me and The Darkness Is Revealing are as huge as as anything the band have come up in the 21st century, but also were filled with an unfiltered rage, pain and hurt. There are also sonic experiments with pace, rhythm and electronic elements in songs like Idiosyncrasy, show Korn are far from a spent force creatively. A triumph from tragedy.
In these unprecedented times, what currency does the simplicity of nostalgia hold? If Korn’s Requiem is anything to go by, a great deal. Requiem eschews the experimentation that allowed Korn to navigate their way past the decline of nu metal, its succinct 32-minute run-time cutting all the fat to instead offer a masterclass in Korn's basest and most essential ingredients. There is something pure and anthemic in the likes of Forgotten, Lost In The Grandeur and Disconnect, while Start The Healing seems like an implicit acknowledgement of the tribulations the band tackled on The Nothing. The fact Korn were able to score top 20 albums in the UK and US (as well as a No. 1 spot in Australia) certainly lends credence to the notion of a nu metal revival.
3. Follow The Leader (1998)
Follow The Leader turned Korn into superstars. Freak On A Leash is almost certainly the song they are best known for, Got The Life is as bouncy as Korn have ever sounded, and, the likes of It’s On, Dead Bodies Everywhere and B.B.K. are the first time we heard Korn meld the huge, precision production of stadium metal with their boom-and-burst dynamics to such crushing effect. What lets it down is the filler: Fred Durst’s turn on All In The Family has not aged well musically or lyrically, ditto the likes of Cameltosis and the cover of Cheech & Chong’s Earache My Eye. A classic, no doubt, and an incredibly important record, but it’s sounding slightly weathered in places these days.
2. Untouchables (2002)
The most expensive album ever recorded at the time of its release, the band have estimated Untouchables cost over $3 million to make. It sounds like money well spent, with the crunch of Brian Welch and James ‘Munky’ Shaffer’s guitars as savage as they have ever sounded, and Fieldy’s bass low enough to shake the floor of the ocean. But that would be nothing without the songs themselves. Hollow Life was the first time the gothic noir that Korn now employ so well was heard, Alone I Break was unthinkably close to ballad territory for Korn, and yet it worked, and, of course, the mountainous groove of Here To Stay is one of the most loved moments in the bands career. Expensive it may have been, but Untouchables is almost untouchable.
1. Korn (1994)
It really couldn’t have been anything else. More than a quarter century after it was released, Korn’s debut album instigated a seismic shift in metal. From the moment Jonathan Davis asked us if we were ready on Blind he changed ouir scene forever. They drew on the influence of Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine and hip-hop, but turned it into something brand new. Ball Tongue, Divine, Faget and Shoots And Ladders seethed with pain, rage and self-loathing in a way that metal bands had never expressed before.
A parade of copycats and bandwagon-hoppers who took the album’s sound and remodelled it without an ounce of innovation that Korn possessed, but the original’s legacy remains intact: This is a record that remains as integral to modern metal as the first Black Sabbath album or Metallica’s Master Of Puppets.