Korn are no strangers to the cover version. From their take on Cheech And Chong’s ramshackle stoner anthem Earache My Eye on 1998’s Follow The Leader to their banging update of Cameo’s 80s funk classic Word Up!, the Bakersfield band have frequently brought up their own distinctive versions of other people’s tunes.
So it made sense when, sometime around 2005, rumblings were first heard about a full-fledged album of Korn-fed covers. Dubbed Korn Kovers, it was rumoured to feature covers of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like A Hole and, most unexpectedly, the brooding God Of Emptiness by death metal pioneers Morbid Angel.
Of the latter, guitarist Munky teased at the time, “Jonathan originally sang the verses and he just was bugging out because he wasn’t enunciating the way Trent Reznor, on that song, does the original. It was really just kind of difficult for him. So we thought, ‘Well, you know what? That may work out if Chester [Bennington] sang on the verse.’” And it did, the late Linkin Park frontman proclaiming it “awesome”.
Originally slated to arrive in 2005, between Take A Look In The Mirror and See You On The Other Side’s album cycles, Korn Kovers seemingly died a slow death. Bits and pieces emerged, such as their versions of Public Enemy’s Fight The Power and The Psychedelic Furs’ Love My Way – and Hammer eventually managed to snag their recording of Faith No More’s We Care A Lot, which took centre stage on our Decades Of Destruction tribute disc for the mag’s 30th anniversary in 2016.
But it turned out the project wasn’t entirely a lost cause. In 2019, speaking ahead of the launch of The Nothing, Jonathan and Munky revealed that the band were still stockpiling cover versions for the increasingly mythical album.
“There’s a handful of cover songs that nobody’s ever heard before,” said Munky. “We recorded a couple of more for this [The Nothing sessions] and put it aside, and no I’m not telling you what they are.”
More recently guitarist Head told Hammer that the band were still making progress on Korn Kovers, albeit slow progress.
“We have five or six done, and Jonathan was really hyped on the idea of doing unique covers, just something fun,” said Head. “So we need to get back into that frame of mind. With this time off, that maybe that could be a good idea – something to do while we’re home.”
In July 2020,. the band hinted at the release of a brand new song, which turned out to be their recently-released cover of the Charlie Daniels Band’s outlaw-country classic The Devil Went Down To Georgia, prompting speculation that the semi-mythical album would follow. Not so. Since then there’s been nothing, nada, zilch. Should we keep on holding our breath for the Chinese Democracy of nu-metal covers albums? Apparently so, according to Jonathan Davis.
“it’s been a work in progress for a long time,” the singer said in 2019. “But whenever we get a little free time, we go ahead and do a couple songs. One day it’ll see the light of day.”
One day. Maybe. But we stopped holding our breath a long time ago.